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3 1822 02605 9733 

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3 1822 02605 9733 



An Outline of the Ancient 
History of the Western Soudan 
with an Account of the Modern 
Settlement of Northern Nigeria 






Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co. 
At the Ballantyne Press 





I. Introductory 

II. Conquest of North Ap^rica and Spain by the 

III. Arab Civilisation in Spain 

IV. The Empire of "The Two Shores". 
V. African Rule in Spain .... 

VI. Decline of Mohammedan Power in Spain 
VII. Spanish Arabs in Africa .... 
VIII. The Soudanese States .... 
IX. Negroland and the Western Arabs 

X. Berber and Black 

XL The Trade of Ghana .... 

XII. Morabite Conquest of the Soudan . 

XIII. Ghana and Timbuctoo .... 

XIV. The Mellestine 

XV. Mansa Musa 

XVI. Ibn Batuta in Melle .... 

XVII. Administration of the Mellestine . 
XVIII. Meeting of Eastern and Western Influence upon 
the Niger ...... 

XIX. Rise of the Songhay Empire ... 
XX. Military Conquests of Sonni Ali . 
XXI. AsKiA Mohammed Abou Bekr ... 
XXII. Songhay under Askia the Great 

XXIII. Songhay under Askia the Great {conti7iued) 

XXIV. The Later Askias 

XXV. Ancient Connection of Haussaland with 

Valley of the Nile .... 
XXVI. The Pharaohs in Haussaland . 
XXVII. The Haussa States ..... 
XXVIII. The Domination of Kano 













21 1 






XXIX. Haussaland to the End of the Eighteenth Cen- 
tury ....... 


XXXI. Condition of the Soudan at the End of the 

Sixteenth Century .... 
XXXII. The Moorish Conquest .... 

XXXIII. The Soudan under the Moors 

XXXIV. The Soudan Closed to the Western World 
XXXV. Europe in West Africa .... 

XXXVI. The European Slave Trade . 
XXXVII. England and France on the Lower Niger 
XXXVIII. The Royal Niger Company . 
XXXIX. Transfer of Niger Company's Territories to th 
Crown ...... 

XL. Origin of the Fulani .... 

XLI. Rise of the Fulani in the Soudan 
XLII. Sultan Bello ...... 

XLIII. Northern Nigeria under Fulani Rule 

XLIV. Sla\'E-raiding 

XLV. The Establishment of British Administration 
XLVI. Military Occupation of the Southern Emirates 

and Bornu ..... 

XLVII. Conquest of Sokoto and Kano 
XLVIII. British Policy in Northern Nigeria . 
XLIX. Nigeria under British Rule : Slavery . 
L. Nigeria under British Rule : Taxation 
LI. Nigeria under British Rule: Justice and Gene 
RAL Reorganisation .... 
LII. Economic Resources of Northern Nigeria 
LI II. The Development of Trade . 


















It has become the habit of the British mind to think of 
the British Empire as a white empire. But, as a matter of 
fact, we all know that ours is not a white empire. Out 
of an estimated population of 413,000,000, only 52,000,000, 
or one In eight, are white. Out of a territory of 16,000,000 
square miles, which extends ^^eK,^ quarter of the globe, 
about 4,000,000 square mile^^<?br a^yarter of the whole, 
lies within the tropics. r o » / 

The administration <^ jtMs^goarter of the Empire 
cannot be conducted on the ^uirciple of self-government 
as that phrase is underwood J^ white men. It must be 
more or less in the natureVn" an autocracy which leaves 
with the rulers full responsibility for the prosperity of the 
ruled. The administration of India, where this aspect of 
the question has been long appreciated, is among the 
successes of which the British people is most justly proud. 
The work done by England in Egypt is another proof 
of our capacity for autocratic rule. We are justified 
therefore In thinking of ourselves as a people who may 
face with reasonable hopes of success still vaster questions 
of tropical administration. 

We stand now at an interesting moment in our history. 
The most pressing questions which are connected with 
the self-governing colonies would seem to have been 
settled ; attention and interest are set free to turn them- 
selves towards other channels ; and simultaneously with 



this liberation of public sympathy the direction of a new 
development is indicated by circumstances of almost 
irresistible significance. 

Within the last five-and-twenty years we have acquired 
in tropical Africa alone territories of which the area 
exceeds by one-half the whole extent of British India. 
These, and othtr colonies and dependencies which lie 
within the tropics, now call for some of the same 
care and attention which have helped to make India 
what it is. 

In nearly all the tropical colonies there is much fertile 
land which already produces some of the most necessary 
and valuable raw materials of trade. Cotton, silk, rice, 
rubber, sugar, coffee, tea, oils, drugs, dyes and spices, gold 
and gems, and other important elements of civilised 
industry, are home, products of our tropics. But in very 
few of the colonies have these products been developed to 
anything approaching the natural capacity of their sources 
of origin. In many parts of the colonies the resources of 
nature have not been cultivated at all. Valuable com- 
modities produce themselves and grow wild — unsown, 
unreaped. The increase which might result to British 
trade by a mere opening of the markets that lie as yet 
unapproached within the Empire, is past calculation. 
Such opening would necessarily be reciprocal in its action, 
and every market of supply over which our administration 
extended would automatically become a market of con- 
sumption for manufactured goods. At home the very 
prosperity of our trade creates a demand for expansion. 
And these potential markets are our own. We may do 
as we will within them. 

The cultivation of our tropical lands involves, we are 
sometimes told, questions of transport and labour which 
are too difficult to touch. Of these the question of 
transport within the limits of our own colonies and 
protectorates is very largely a question of money, and 
its difficulties may easily be made to disappear whenever 
a real demand for transport shall arise. The question of 


labour is more serious. Tropical labour is coloured labour, 
and we have not yet faced the question of organising free 
coloured labour. But that this question has not yet been 
faced is not a reason why the difficulties attending it 
should be regarded as insurmountable. They must be 
reckoned among the most interesting problems of tropical 

The industrial development of ancient civilisations was 
largely based on slavery, and, from the earliest periods 
of which history has any record, countries lying within 
the tropics — always prolific of population — were raided to 
supply the slave-markets of the world. It was thought 
worth while in the great days of Egypt, Persia, Greece, 
Rome, and mediaeval Spain, to be at the expense of 
sending caravans into the Soudan for slaves, who had 
to be hunted and caught in the tropical regions further 
south. Notwithstanding the cost of the overland journey, 
the expense and waste of slave-hunting, and the large 
percentage of deaths which occurred in transit, the labour 
of Africa was considered valuable enough to be worth 
transporting to any market in which it was required. The 
trade was continued through the Middle Ages, and under 
modern conditions of steam shipping and travelling it was 
still found worth while less than fifty years ago to carry 
African labour to America. 

We have abolished slavery, and, as a consequence, it 
has been assumed that the labour which once supplied 
the great industries of the world has ceased to have any 

This is a curious anomaly, for which, however, many 
explanatory reasons might be produced. Coloured labour, 
without the control which the master exercises over the 
slave, has its peculiar difficulties. In the face of them 
the civilised communities of the Western world have 
abandoned the use of coloured labour, and the intro- 
duction of industrial and agricultural machinery, which 
began almost coincidently with the abolition of slavery, 
has minimised the consequences of the loss. The fact 


is not altered that African labour had through many- 
ages of the world's history a very high marketable value. 
That this labour still exists, that it is native to an im- 
mense area of the tropical colonies, and that it will 
rapidly increase in volume under the conditions of peace 
and security introduced by British administration, are 
factors of great importance in considering the possible 
development of the resources of these colonies. To 
construct a bridge between the old system of civilisation 
and the new, by finding means to organise as free labour 
the labour which preceding generations could only use 
enslaved, would be to lead the way in a very sensible 
advance beyond the first and necessary step of the aboli- 
tion of slavery. 

In speaking of ancient civilisations, I have not men- 
tioned the ancient civilisations of the Far East, where in- 
dustry is believed to have been first carried to the highest 
pitch. The industries of the Far East were supplied 
with other than African labour. From the earliest times 
the Chinese have been famed for manual dexterity, and 
Eastern industries have been based upon yellow labour. 
Yellow labour was carried to a far higher degree of 
perfection than black labour ever seems to have attained, 
and yellow labour has never been thrown out of employ- 
ment. The products of its industries were always largely 
imported by the nations which owned black slaves. It 
retains to-day the dexterity for which it was famous 
in the period of the Pharaohs, But the kingdoms of 
the East having risen earlier to a condition of cohesion 
in which they were able to protect their subjects, and 
having also from a very early period maintained the 
policy of exclusion practised by Egypt in its greatest 
days, yellow labour has never been used to supply the 
slave-markets of the West. Western communities have 
felt the same repugnance to the employment of free 
Chinese labour that they felt to the employment of free 
African labour, and we have had to wait for the present 
conjunction of events in order to see yellow labour. 


under the direction of intelligence as acute as any 
intelligence of the West, prepare to enter into com- 
petition with white labour in the industrial markets of 
the world. 

That Japan, which has now established its military 
and naval ascendancy on the shores of the Pacific, will 
proceed to the fuller development of its industrial re- 
sources, is scarcely doubtful. The labour of China is 
under its hand. We have therefore an additional reason 
to take stock of our imperial and of our industrial position. 
We have within our Empire a body of coloured labour 
greater than any which Japan can at present command. 
There is nothing to prevent us from attracting by immi- 
gration as much more as we please. But in order to use 
our own, or to attract more with profit to the Empire, 
we must face the whole question of tropical administra- 
tion. We must study with an open mind the thorny 
questions of native labour. We must prepare and make 
known those parts of hitherto undeveloped colonies to 
which it may be considered desirable to attract labour. 
We must introduce systems of transport by means of 
which not only the fruits of labour but labour itself may 
be able to circulate within the Empire. We must, no 
doubt, in many instances recast our local labour laws. 
We must frankly recognise the fact that labour is the 
foundation upon which development rests. 

We may at the same time have the .satisfaction, even 
in our earliest beginnings, of knowing that the develop- 
ment of the tropical colonies, if we undertake it seriously, 
will not end with industrial development. There are 
many sides to the history of nations, and in the attempt 
to introduce order and industry into the at present un- 
civilised areas of many of our tropical possessions, we 
shall no doubt meet with innate powers unsuspected 
now, that in more favourable conditions may blossom 
into life. 

Our fathers, by a self-denying ordinance, did what they 
could to set the subject populations free. It was nobly 


conceived, and civilisation has profited by the step in 
human progress that was made. But the actual enjoy- 
ment of freedom is still far from the African native. 
If we could realise the dream of abolition by carrying 
freedom to every village, and so direct our administra- 
tion that under it the use of liberty would be learned, 
we should be filling a place that any nation might be 
proud to hold in the annals of civilisation. It is not 
a mere unworthy dream of gain which turns our eyes 
towards the tropics. It is a great opportunity which 
seems to be presenting itself in national life, one which 
affords scope for the best qualities and highest talents 
that we can command. 

It is not, therefore, surprising that interest in tropical 
questions should of late have become more general, and 
it is only when we begin to think about them that we 
realise how very little we know of some of our newer 
possessions in the tropics. A recognition of this ignor- 
ance on my own part in relation to the interior of West 
Africa has led me to study such authorities as I could 
find, and, with a very profound sense of my own incom- 
petence in dealing with a subject which demands the 
care and attention of an accomplished Oriental scholar, I 
have put together a little account of the general move- 
ment of civilisation in the Western Soudan which may 
perhaps serve rather as a basis for future criticism than 
for any of the permanent purposes of history. Fresh 
information comes almost daily to light in the territories 
occupied by civilised powers, which will doubtless elucidate 
many points now left obscure, and rectify mistaken con- 
clusions. In the meantime, what I have been able to 
gather, in part from original manuscripts, but chiefly from 
translations of Arab historians, may interest some of 
those who, like myself, desire to have a connected idea 
of the civilisations which have preceded our own in our 
lately acquired territories in the interior of West Africa. 
I am, of course, chiefly concerned with the territories of 
the protectorate lying on the watershed of the Niger and 


the Benue, of which the administration was only assumed 
by the British Government on the ist of January 1900, 
By this occupation an entirely new chapter has been 
opened in the relations of Great Britain with West 

Nigeria — as we call our latest dependency — is not 
properly a name. It cannot be found upon a map that is 
ten years old. It is only an English expression which has 
been made to comprehend a number of native states cover- 
ing about 500,000 square miles of territory in that part of 
the world which we call the Western Soudan. Ancient 
geographers called the same section of Africa sometimes 
Soudan, sometimes Ethiopia, sometimes Nigritia, some- 
times Tekrour, sometimes and more often Genewah or 
Genowah — which, by the European custom of throwing 
the accent to the fore part of the word, has become 
Guinea ; sometimes they called it simply Negroland. 
Always, and in every form, their name for it meant the 
Land of the Blacks. Genowah, pronounced with a hard 
G, is a native word signifying "black." It is so generally 
used to designate blacks that at the present day, among 
the Arabs of Egypt and the Moors of Morocco — that is, 
at both exits from the desert — I have myself heard it 
applied to the negroes of the Soudan. From the earliest 
periods of which we have any knowledge, Blackland has 
stretched, as it stretches now, from the west coast of 
Africa to the east, along that line of successive waterways 
which begins with the mouth of the Senegal, and ends 
only at the southern mouth of the Red Sea. 

If the north of Africa be considered as a whole it 
divides itself into three great main sections, all of which 
run, like the Land of the Blacks, east and west. There 
is first, outside the tropics and within the zone of winter 
rains, the historic coast strip stretching along the Medi- 
terranean shore from the mouths of the Nile to Cape 
Spartel. A range of mountains at its back receding 
towards the western end separates it from the deserts 
and gives to its fertile lands the shelter and the water 


which they need. These mountains have been as the 
stronghold of civilisation to the coast. Behind them on 
the southern slopes there is a belt of land on which the 
date palm flourishes, salt mines abound, and flocks and 
herds can find subsistence. In this belt there are even 
spots of great fertility, and there are parts in which it 
widens, spreading with fertile promontories into the desert. 
But in its nature this southern face of the hills, known to 
the ancients as the Land of Dates, is but an offshoot of 
the coast strip. 

It merires soon into the deserts of the rainless zone 
which form the second great section of North Africa. 
From the Atlantic coast to the Nile these deserts, under 
different names, succeed each other across the continent 
in a broad belt of desolation. Upon the map they cover 
an area of between ten and fifteen degrees of latitude. 
At their narrowest parts the caravans which traverse 
them count upon a march of fifty days. They are in 
part composed of drifting sand, through v/hich only long 
practised local guides can find their way ; they are prac- 
tically waterless, and it is of course only in places where 
springs are known to exist that the passage of them is 
possible. Marmol, a Spanish writer of the sixteenth 
century, gives an interesting description of how these 
wells were preserved in his day. " They are," he says, 
"walled inside with camels' bones for want of stones, and 
they are also covered with camels' skins lest the shifting 
sands should blow over them and fill them up. The 
natural consequence is that even when there the wells 
are often hidden, and the traveller may die of thirst within 
a few feet of water." 

With the hot sands of the deserts the continent passes 
into the tropics, and here again a natural barrier marks 
the third great division of North Africa. A straight line 
drawn upon the seventeenth parallel of latitude will mark 
the edge of the zone of summer rains. Slightly to the 
south of it may be traced the great water-belt formed by 
the courses of the Senegal, the Niger, the Benue, the 


rivers of Haussaland, Lake Chad, the Shari, the lakes and 
rivers of Wadai and Darfour, the Bahr el Gazal, and the 
sources of the Nile, which, with their network of tribu- 
taries, fertilise the land from the Atlantic Ocean to the 
mountains of Abyssinia. Other great lakes and rivers 
traverse the continent farther south. The waterways that 
I have named suffice, with the Nile, to arrest the advance 
of the northern deserts and to place round them a border 
of luxuriant vegetation. 

Thus in silent prehistoric ages the rough outlines of 
the destiny of North Africa were traced. There was a 
fertile strip in the temperate zone, and near an easily 
navigable sea ; there was a great barren strip in the 
waterless desert near to nothing which could encourage 
human occupation ; there was another fertile strip in the 
tropic zone well watered, but sealess — save at its western 
and eastern extremities, where on the western coast a 
lack of good harbourage discouraged navigation — miasmic, 
of a climate very different from that of the strip upon the 
northern coast ; and, running north and south, connecting 
these three which lay parallel to one another, there was 
the wonderfully fertilised Valley of the Nile. 

It was almost a foregone conclusion that one race 
should inhabit the coast and a wholly different race the 
tropics ; and that civilisation of a no less different sort 
should spring up in both zones. Separated as they 
were by the deserts, it was natural that connection 
between them should be maintained by that Valley of 
the Nile which has made itself immortal in the name 
of Egypt. 

It is accordingly to Egypt that we look for all our 
earliest information concerning the Land of Blacks, and 
it is to Egypt, and through Egypt to Asia Minor and 
Arabia, that the blacks themselves trace their oldest 

As it is impossible to appreciate the position of Western 
Negroland in the history of the world without reference 
to the movements of other civilisations by which it was 


influenced, it may be useful, at the risk of repeating very- 
familiar facts, briefly to recall some of the commonly 
accepted dates relating to the rise and fall of the early 
civilisations of the Mediterranean. 

The great period of Egyptian civilisation, including 
that of the southern end of the Nile Valley, under its 
Ethiopian, Coptic, and Libyan Pharaohs, extends from 
an antiquity which recent excavations tend to show ever 
more remote, to the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses, 
King of Persia, B.C. 527. Egypt then became a province 
of the Persian Empire. It was in the early period, before 
the time of Herodotus and Cambyses, that Egypt would 
seem to have given the first inspiration of civilised life 
to Western Negroland. It remained a dependency of 
the Persian Empire for two hundred years, but during 
the whole period was constantly at war with its conquerors. 
In 332 B.C. Egypt was invaded by Alexander of Macedon 
as a part of his campaign against Persia. It submitted 
willingly, and on his death in 321 the dynasty of the 
Ptolemies was founded and continued, until, on the death 
of Cleopatra, who was the last sovereign of that dynasty, 
Egypt became a Roman province, B.C. 30. On the 
division of the Roman Empire it was included in the 
•Prefecture of the East, and it remained a province of 
the Byzantine Empire until it was conquered by the 
Arabs in 638 a.d. 

The civilisation of the Phoenicians, contemporary at 
least in part with the history of Egypt, dates also from the 
earliest periods of which civil history has any record. 
The Phoenicians are believed to have migrated from 
Erythrea on the coast of the Red Sea, about the year 
2000 B.C., to the Mediterranean, where they were first 
established on a strip of Syria between the chain of 
Lebanon and the sea, and afterwards took possession of a 
portion of Greece, of some of the islands of the Medi- 
terranean, and of the principal promontories along the 
coast of Africa to the Straits of Gibraltar, and as far down 
the western coast as the mouths of the Senegal. They 


also colonised Spain and spread up the coast of Western 
Europe, navigating as far as the Baltic and the English 
Channel. They were never permitted to have a colony 
on the Egyptian coast, because it was a fundamental 
maxim of the early Egyptians to suffer no vessel to enter 
the mouths of the Nile ; but the Phoenicians had a large 
settlement in the very heart of Egypt itself — an entire 
quarter of Memphis being devoted to them. Tyre and 
Sidon on the Syrian coast were among the most famous 
of their early cities. The overthrow of Sidon by Joshua, 
it will be remembered, took place about 1400 years before 
Christ. Carthage, of later growth, is believed to have 
been founded about 853 B.C. Other Phoenician cities on 
the coast of Africa were of far greater antiquity than 
Carthaofe, and Phoenician trade in the Gulf of Sallee on 
the west coast of Morocco was famous for many centuries 
before the Romans gave to that part of the coast the name 
of Sinus Emporicus, or Merchants' Bay. 

An even more interesting maritime trade than that 
of the Phoenicians with the West seems to be clearly 
established as having existed from a very early period 
between the coasts of the Persian and Arabian Gulfs, the 
east coast of Africa as far south as Delagoa Bay, and 
possibly to the southern coast of the African continent, 
the western coast of India as far south as Ceylon — the 
Taprobane of the ancients — and beyond Ceylon to China. 
By means of this commerce intercourse between India 
and Africa was regularly carried on during the earliest 
Egyptian era. The Ethiopian ports for the Indian trade 
were Azab and Adule within the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb 
on the Red Sea ; and the Phoenicians, after their land 
trade had penetrated to India, had colonies upon the 
Persian and Arabian Gulfs. They also fitted out ships at 
Suez for the navigation of the Southern seas. The three 
well-known names of Thule, Tarshish, and Ophir, would 
appear to have been used generically to indicate these 
three fields of maritime activity — Thule covering the 
Atlantic ports, Tarshish the Mediterranean, and Ophir 


those of the Southern seas. It may be interesting in 
this connection to note that the words which are trans- 
lated in the EngHsh version of the Bible as "ivory, 
apes, and peacocks," are not Hebrew but Tamyl words — 
a circumstance which serves to confirm historic evidence 
that the commerce of Solomon extended at least as far 
as Ceylon. The participation of the Phoenicians in the 
trade of Ophir seems to have dated from the period of 
their friendship with the Jews under Solomon, or about 
looo years before Christ, but the trade itself was much 

Through a considerable portion of their history the 
Phoenicians appear to have acted as commercial agents 
for Egypt. It was by the orders of Necho, King of 
Egypt, that about the year 612 B.C. Phoenician sailors, 
playing for this famous king a part analogous to that 
which Columbus played 2000 years later for Ferdinand 
and Isabella of Spain, started from the Red Sea to 
explore the Southern Ocean, and, according to the tradi- 
tion related by Herodotus, proved the fact that Africa was 
surrounded by water on all sides but the strip of land 
which bound her to Asia, arriving in the third year from 
their departure once more in Egypt by way of the Straits 
of Gibraltar. As they sailed, it is related that they landed 
on the coasts, sowing the land and waiting for harvests. 
Thus a tradition of them lingers on the west coast as 
well as on the east ; and to them it is in some quarters 
believed that the legend of the first white men in Western 
Negroland may be traced. It is the fashion to doubt this 
statement of Herodotus with regard to the circumnaviga- 
tion of Africa ; but, in the light of many remarkable facts 
concerning African history which have of late become 
known, it may be worth while to remember that the 
achievement spoken of, if it really occurred, would have 
been almost within the memory of an old man at the time 
at which Herodotus wrote. Carthage had intercourse 
across the desert with Negroland, and drew thence its 
supply of elephants, as well as gold and carbuncles. 


Later accounts of the immense quantities of gold which 
abounded in Negroland render it not improbable that 
some of the gold so lavishly used by Phoenician artificers 
in the decoration of Solomon's Temple may have been 
brought from the Valley of the Niger. 

Greek influence in Africa was much later than that of 
Egypt and Phoenicia, and the colony of Cyrene, which 
afterwards became the province of Cyrenaica, between the 
borders of what is now Tripoli and Egypt, was not founded 
till 620 B.C., about 100 years before the conquest of Egypt 
by Cambyses. It became subject to Egypt in 323, and 
afterwards shared in her fortunes. 

Libyan, or, as we should call them, Berber tribes, held 
the extreme west, or divided it with the Carthaginian 
colonies until the conquest of the northern region by the 
Romans, during the two hundred years which immediately 
preceded the birth of Christ. It may be remembered that 
Scipio received the surname of Africanus in recognition 
of his triumph over Hannibal in the year 202 B.C. Africa 
proper, the territory owned by Carthage which corresponds 
to the modern Tunis, was created a Roman province in 
146 B.C. But Egypt and Cyrenaica did not become Roman 
provinces until 30 B.C. Mauritania, in the north-western 
corner, also became a Roman province in t,^ b.c. When 
the Romans completed the nominal conquest of Africa, 
they divided it into six provinces, of which Ethiopia or 
Negroland was one. But though the northern strip was 
well known to them, and flourished under their rule, and 
they made some military expeditions to the south, they 
had little if any recorded intercourse with Negroland. 

Thus from the earliest dawn of Western history the 
northern coast strip of Africa was the scene of civilised 
occupation. The introduction of the previously existing 
Berber or Libyan inhabitants into Africa belongs, says 
Ibn Khaldun, their great historian, to "a period so remote 
that God only knows tlie epoch of it." And as one race 
of conquerors displaced another, there was a perpetual 
pressure driving the Libyan inhabitants with the dis- 


possessed peoples across the borders. The natural bor- 
ders were the hills, and the hunted populations taking 
refuge in them were forced down the southern slopes 
upon the deserts. Gradually through the ages the deserts 
became the home of nomad peoples, who learned, wander- 
ing upon the inhospitable face of their drifting sands, to 
pluck subsistence from widely scattered patches of fertility. 
These wandering tribes, known under many names, from 
the Toucouleurs, Tuaregs, Kabyls, Amozighs of the West, 
to the Tibboos, Berdoas, and others of the eastern borders 
of the desert, are generally classed as Berbers. It is 
under the name of Berbers that they are most frequently 
alluded to by Arab historians, from whom, at a much 
later period, we derive our principal knowledge of them. 
Between the coast strip and Negroland the desert itself 
became in this manner sparsely inhabited by a race which, 
though it is held to have had one Libyan origin, suffered 
in the course of history so many invasions and infusions 
of new blood, that it has broken into almost countlessly 
diverse tribes, cherishing many and widely differing 

Speaking in roughly general terms, the Berbers are a 
white people who, having a tradition that they once were 
Christian, now profess Mohammedanism. North Africa, 
in the centuries which elapsed between the birth of Christ 
and the appearance of Mohammed, was the favoured home 
of Christianity. The names of its saints and martyrs stand 
high upon Christian rolls. St. Cyprian suffered at Car- 
thage. St. Augustine was born at Hippo. Tertullian 
and Lactantius, if they were not African, bore eloquent 
testimony to the fervour of the African Church. In the 
many contests of early Christian councils it was the African 
divines who finally triumphed and gave to Christianity its 
Western form. The African, like the Syrian desert, was 
at one time honeycombed with the cells of hermits and 
self-torturing monks. There was no heresy that had not 
its counterblast in Africa. Proselytism was perhaps no- 
where more active. There is, therefore, nothing to sur- 


prise us in the Christian tradition of the Berber tribes. 
They have presumably been, in turn, of the reHgion of 
every great invader. Their language has been classed 
among the Hamitic languages, but they have traditions 
of Arabian descent. One among many stories of their 
original introduction into Africa is that five colonies were 
introduced from Arabia Felix by a certain leader Ifrikiah, 
or Afrikiah, who gave his name to the continent ; and that 
from these are descended no less than six hundred clans of 
Berbers. Amongst their many tribes is not, however, to 
be counted a race wholly distinct from the Berbers, but 
also nomad in the eastern desert, who are said by those 
learned in these matters to be the true gypsy of the East. 
The tradition of the Zingari, as they are found in Northern 
Africa, is that they came originally from India. This 
tradition is to be met with again, though faintly and un- 
certainly recalled, amongst some of the races of Western 

While the northern strip pressed thus upon the desert, 
the desert, there can be little doubt, pressed equally 
upon the fertile belt to the south. Quite indirectly 
the influence of Tyre and Sidon, Rome and Carthage, 
must have been brought to bear from the very earliest 
periods upon Negroland. But besides this indirect in- 
fluence of pressure by the superior race along the whole 
course of their borders — an influence which, as will pre- 
sently be seen, was very potent in modifying the char- 
acter of the leading black races of Negroland — there were 
also channels of direct influence which, though Europe 
has ceased to use them, remain unchanged to this day. 
These are the caravan routes across the desert. Nature 
laid them down, and has marked them by certain spots 
where water can be obtained. The springs have not 
changed their position within any period of which history 
has preserved a record, and it is an interesting illustration 
of the continuity of custom which strikes the imagination 
in these remote regions of the earth, that the roads trodden 
by the caravans which this year visit Kano and Tim- 


buctoo, are the same which offered themselves to the 
first civilised footprints that crossed the desert. 

There are two principal roads across the desert, one 
through Tripoli and the Fezzan running due south to- 
wards what is now Nigeria, taking the shape of a forked 
stick, to rest upon Lake Chad and the Niger; the other 
throueh Morocco, runninof acjain due south towards Tim- 
buctoo and the western end of Negroland. These two 
roads, as a glance at the map will show, mark the two 
narrowest parts at which the desert can be crossed, for 
in both instances the fertile land of the coast strip runs 
down in important promontories into the arid sands. 
Both these roads were counted as a fifty days' journey 
from edge to edge of fertile land. They are, I believe, 
so counted still. It hardly needs to be added that one 
was the channel of Eastern and the other of Western 
influence upon Negroland. 

It is difficult now, when we are accustomed to regard 
the west coast ports as the natural channels of entrance 
into the Western Soudan, to remember that throughout 
the early history of Europe, and up to the period of the 
discovery of the passage of the Cape of Good Hope at 
the end of the fifteenth century, the approach to Negroland 
was by land. In the early periods of African history 
the navigation of the Atlantic was for all practical pur- 
poses unknown. Equatorial Africa faced civilisation on 
the north. It looked northwards for all its finest inspira- 
tion. The south represented to it only barbarism and 
obscurity. This fact, although difficult now for the ima- 
gination to grasp, is of first importance in endeavouring 
to construct any true conception of Soudanese history. 
The Soudan was regarded as occupying the edge of the 
then known world. Homer, first of Europeans to men- 
tion it, speaks of the Ethiopians as "the farthest removed 
of men, and separated into two divisions." Later Greek 
writers, borrowing their information from Egypt, carry 
the description somewhat further, and characterise the two 
divisions as Western and Eastern — the Eastern occupy- 


ing the countries eastward of the Nile, and the Western 
stretching from the western shores of that river to the 
Atlantic coast. One of these divisions, we have to 
acknowledge, was perhaps itself the original source of 
the civilisation which has through Egypt permeated the 
Western world. Both divisions alike faced north, and 
had their frontage to the great civilisations of their day, 
along what may be described as the shore of the desert, 
fringing the 17th parallel of north latitude. Across this 
desert the native camel was the ship which bore their 
merchandise and maintained their intercourse with outer 
life. The caravan roads were the trade routes marked 
for them as clearly as the trade winds marked the route 
to be taken on the ocean by later sailing ships. The 
tonnage of the big caravans was greater than the tonnage 
of the vessels by which at a subsequent period Drake 
and Magellan circumnavigated the globe, and England, 
Portugal, and Holland maintained a prosperous trade 
with the East Indies. It was sufficient for the purposes 
of a considerable commerce, and there can be no doubt 
that from a very early period the communities of the 
coast were in close and constant communication with 

When the history of Negroland comes to be written 
in detail, it may be found that the kingdoms lying towards 
the eastern end of the Soudan were the home of races 
who inspired, rather than of races who received, the 
traditions of civilisation associated for us with the name 
of ancient Egypt. For they cover on either side of the 
Upper Nile, between the latitudes of 10° and 17°, terri- 
tories in which are found monuments more ancient than 
the oldest Egyptian monuments. If this should prove to 
be the case, and the civilised world be forced to recog- 
nise in a black people the fount of its original enlighten- 
ment, it may happen that we shall have to revise entirely 
our view of the black races, and regard those who now 
exist as the decadent representatives of an almost for- 
gotten era, rather than as the embryonic possibility of an 



era yet to come. Be this as it may, the traditions of the 
Eastern Soudan of the present day would seem to be 
derived from the same sources as those of Egypt and 
Arabia, while the nations lying towards the western end 
of the fertile belt have been more strongly imbued with 
the influence of the Western Arabs, who in comparatively 
modern times carried civilisation into Spain. This theory, 
amply illustrated by the history of the Western Soudan, 
receives further support from the philological studies of 
M. Fresnel, who asserts that the alphabet of the Eastern 
Soudan is the regular alphabet of Arabia, while the 
alphabet of the Western Soudan is the alphabet of 

In addition to the influence of the Western Arabs, there 
was, at a period shortly after the Hegira, an immigration 
from Arabia under a leader called Abou Zett, which appears 
to have crossed the Red Sea at the Straits of Bab-el- 
Mandeb, and to have spread westward along the fertile 
belt. The tradition of this immigration is vivid in Kor- 
dofan, Darfour, and Wadai. It is said to have extended 
through the entire belt of Negroland, and, as a later 
chapter will show, some members of it are believed to 
have reached the bend of the Middle Niger, but the 
tradition grows fainter in the territories west of Chad. 

The influence of Egypt, also perceptible in the Western 
Soudan, is naturally strongest in the territories which lie 
nearest to the eastern caravan route across the desert. 
The meeting ground in which it would appear to have 
overlapped with the more modern influence of the Western 
Arabs may perhaps be placed geographically upon the 
Bend of the Niger. Es-Sadi, a native writer born in 
Timbuctoo in the sixteenth century, states in his " History 
of the Soudan" that "the town of Kuka was in exist- 
ence under the Pharaohs." The only town of Kuka now 
known to us is in Bornu, but as late as the sixteenth 
century a.d. there were two Kukas, one of them on the 
middle Niger — and it is to this latter Kuka that Es- 
Sadi refers. 



In any case this neighbourhood has a special interest, 
for the first spot in Negroland of which European history 
preserves any record would seem to have been the site of 
this very Kuka, or Kaougha, which stood near the present 
Gao. Herodotus, writing something more than five hundred 
years before Christ, gives an account in his second book 
of an attempt which was made by certain Nasamonians, 
occupying the territory on the Mediterranean coast behind 
Tripoli, to penetrate into the desert by the eastern road, 
afterwards so well known and used by the caravan trade of 
Negroland and the coast. According to his account there 
were among these people " certain daring youths, sons of 
powerful men, who, having reached man's estate, formed 
many extravagant plans, and chose five of their number by 
lot to explore the deserts of Libya to see if they could 
make any further discovery than those who had penetrated 
the furthest." The Nasamonians related that when the 
young men deputed by their companions set out, well 
furnished with water and provisions, they passed first 
through the inhabited country, and having traversed this 
they came to the region infested by wild beasts, and after 
this they crossed the desert, making their way towards the 
west ; and when they had traversed much sandy ground 
during a journey of many days they at length saw some 
trees growing in a plain, and that they approached and 
began to gather the fruit that grew on the trees ; and 
while they were gathering it, some " diminutive men, 
less than men of middle stature, came up," and, having 
seized them, carried them away. The diminutive men con- 
ducted them through vast morasses, and when they had 
passed these they came to " a city in which all the inhabi- 
tants were of the same size as their conductors, and black 
in colour ; and by the city flowed a great river running 
from the west to the east, and crocodiles were seen in it." 

Herodotus does not mention the date of this discovery 
of the Niger by the Nasamonians. It may have taken 
place before or after the reported circumnavigation of 
the continent by the Phoenicians. It may have happened 


within the memory of those who related the facts, or it 
may have been a tradition of much earher events. In 
the incidents of the discovery there is an indication 
which the further history of Negroland supports, that 
the races which now inhabit equatorial regions further 
south, at one time extended towards the northern edge 
of the fertile belt. The "diminutive men," whose city 
existed on the middle Niger some hundreds of years 
before Christ, are presumably the dwarfs who in our 
own day were found by Stanley in the Congo forests. 
Their displacement illustrates the movement under the 
influence of which the aboriginal inhabitants of the fertile 
belt were pushed backwards towards equatorial Africa by 
that pressure of superior races from the desert of which 
I have spoken. Greek historians of a later date than 
Herodotus establish the fact that between the purely 
black people known as the Western Ethiopians, and 
the Mauritanian inhabitants of the north-western corner 
of Africa, there were tribes, known as the Pharusii and 
the Nigretes, who used bows and arrows, and had chariots 
armed with scythes. The description of the Nigretes, who 
evidently knew at least the use of iron, would appear to 
imply a somewhat superior race occupying a position 
between the black dwarfs and the Northern Libyans. 
Thus it would seem that in quite ancient times the exist- 
ence of different races within the belt of Negroland was 
established. There were evidently superior and inferior 
tribes ; and without attempting to follow the question in 
detail, it is interesting, though not surprising, to observe 
that along the whole line of the fertile belt the superior 
races, modified by intercourse with the white pressure from 
the north, gradually established themselves in possession 
of the uplands bordering more nearly upon the desert 
and civilisation, while the inferior races were driven back 
towards the then impenetrable regions of barbarism and 
equatorial Africa. This movement of all that was inferior 
towards the south is a fact of supreme importance to the 
subsequent history of the Negro belt. 


In the later history given to us by Arab records of 
every one of the superior black kingdoms which established 
themselves upon the borders of the desert from Kordofan 
to the Atlantic, there is to be found at some point in the 
description the information that to the south of this country 
lies the country of the " Lem-Lems," or it may be of the 
"Yem-yems," or the " Dem-dems," or the " Rem-rems," 
or the " Gnem-gnems," and after the double name comes 
invariably the same explanation, "who eat men." In fol- 
lowing the history of kingdom after kingdom it becomes 
clear that a belt of cannibalism, of which the Nyam-nyams 
of the Congo may be counted among the present survivors, 
extended along the south of the Negro belt across the 
whole breadth of Africa. M. de Lauture, a French writer 
of much knowledge and acquaintance with his subject, 
takes the latitude of 10° north as forming in his day, 
1853, the northern limits of habitation of the debased 
pagan negro. Between 10° and 17° he places the finer 
races, which he qualifies generally as Mussulman negroes. 
To-day I believe it will be found that there has been a 
still further recession southwards of the inferior races, and 
9° north would perhaps be nearer to the limit of their 
northern extension. It is interesting to observe that 
Northern Nigeria stretches from 7° to 14°, thus including 
within its limits both classes of natives. 

The modern history of Negroland may be said to date 
from the period at which it accepted the Moslem religion, 
but the finer black races had established their domination 
over the inferior, and ruled by force of superior intelligence 
and cultivation long before that time. Es-Sadi, the same 
writer who speaks of Kuka as a town which existed in the 
days of the Pharaohs, speaks also in turning to the west 
of a kingdom extending to the Atlantic Ocean of which 
Ghana was the capital, and adds : " They say that twenty- 
two white kings had reigned over this country before 
the year of the Hegira. Their origin is unknown." It 
is also in this neighbourhood, about the sources of the 
Senegal, that the original home in Africa of the Fulani, 


who count as a partly white race, is placed. The move- 
ment of this remarkable people in Africa within historic 
time has unquestionably been from west to east, but this 
does not preclude the theory of some more remote eastern 
origin which may have preceded their African immigration. 
Whether Phoenician, Egyptian, Indian, or simply Arab, 
they are evidently a race distinct from the negroid and 
other black types by which they have been surrounded, 
and notwithstanding the marked effect produced on some 
portions of their people by intermarriage with negro 
women, they have kept the distinctive qualifications of 
their race through a known period of two thousand years. 
The Fulah of to-day is as distinct from the pure Negro 
as was the first Fulah of whom we have record. How 
long they may have existed in Africa before any record 
of them was made it is with our present knowledge im- 
possible to say. The Haussa and the Songhay are other 
races which, though black, are absolutely distinct from 
the pure negro type. 

In accepting as an historic fact the gradual migration 
southwards of all that was least valuable in the elements 
composing the mixed and widely varying populations of 
the Negro belt, it is to be also recognised that this 
migration, though doubtless accentuated by the outside 
pressure of civilisation from the north, was a natural 
movement initiated by the native populations and carried 
on by them throughout the known period of their history. 
Not only were the uplands bordering upon the desert 
the most desirable portions of the Negro belt, and as such 
likely to pass into the hands of the strongest who could 
hold them, but, as they were also the healthiest, the 
races which inhabited them were maintained by climatic 
conditions on a higher platform of mental and moral 
activity than the more supine inhabitants of the denser 
tropical regions to the south. Hence every cause, natural 
and artificial alike, has combined to the one end, of 
establishing the superior races in the northern and the 
inferior races in the southern portions of the fertile belt. 


The result as we see it to-day is strikingly illustrated 
in British territory by a journey from the Niger mouth 
to Sokoto. The river in its windings makes a sectional 
cut of which the general direction is from north to south, 
and leaving the nude savage of the coast to prowl in 
dusky nakedness through the mangrove swamps of 
Southern Nigeria at its mouths, the traveller who enters 
the river sees the natives on the banks ever increasing 
in decency and dignity as the latitude recedes from the 
equator. At Lokoja no native is unclothed. A little 
farther north, at Bida, where the town is approached by 
avenues of trees, and native brass and glass manufactures 
add to the usual industries, Moorish dress is already 
common. In the markets of Sokoto and Kano the scene 
is as varied and as dignified as in any market of the 
Mediterranean coast. 



The Roman occupation brings the history of North Africa 
to the Christian era. The subsequent decline of the 
Roman Empire was marked by a corresponding decline 
of the Roman colonies in Africa. The Vandals, who 
occupied Spain and gave it its name of Vandalusia or 
Andalusia, followed the Romans and effected establish- 
ments upon the coast. But they left the interior untouched, 
and the conquest which was of supreme interest to 
Negroland was that which was carried out in the seventh 
century of the Christian era by the Arabs. 

The Arabs conquered Egypt in 638, and their victorious 
forces spread rapidly, as was to be expected, across the 
provinces of North Africa. And, as might also be expected, 
they did not occupy the prosperous northern provinces 
without endeavouring to find out something of what lay 
behind them in the desert. Tripoli was taken by them 
in 643, and expeditions were immediately sent across the 
hills to the slopes upon the south and as far as Wadan 
in the western desert. A very little later, 666, Okbar 
ibn Nafe made a military progress of a still more complete 
description, and inquiring always of the inhabitants of 
each conquered tribe — "What lies beyond you?" he 
marched as far as Kawar, the country of the Tibboos 
to the north of Lake Chad, which to this day does not 
appear to be substantially altered from the condition in 
which he found it. The people of Kawar, either not 
knowing or not choosing to tell that there was anything 
beyond them, replied in answer to his questions that 



the country beyond was unknown. He turned back to 
Tripoli, and thus just missed entering the fertile belt. 
Fifteen years later, 681, the same Okbar attacked the 
south-western part of Morocco, a very fruitful district then 
occupied by Europeans and Christian Berbers, and made 
himself master of the whole. The principal town, Medina 
Niffis, is spoken of by Arab historians as a town of great 
antiquity. It lies, however, on the other side of the 
mountains which separate Morocco from the desert, and 
he still did not enter the fertile belt of Negroland. But 
Okbar was only a forerunner of the more celebrated 
Musa Nosseyr, who was appointed Governor of Africa 
under the Caliphs in 698, and made his administration 
for ever famous by that Arab conquest of Spain which 
so profoundly affected the civilisation of the West. 

It is interesting, and important to the history of North 
Africa, that Musa did not immediately undertake the inva- 
sion of Spain. Upwards of ten years elapsed, during 
which he had time to make his presence felt in the 
province which was at that time known by the name 
of Afrikyah, or, as it was more generally spelt, Ifrikyah. 
This province of the Arab domination corresponded not 
to Africa as we know it, but to the Carthaginian and 
Roman Province of Africa Propria, which stretched from 
Barca to the borders of Morocco and extended south- 
ward to the edge of the desert. It held the head of 
the eastern road into the desert through the Fezzan, 
while the head of the western road through Morocco 
appears, notwithstanding Okbar's partial conquests, to 
have remained in the hands of the Europeans and 
Christian Berbers who held the country which corre- 
sponds to the modern Morocco. 

Musa's first act on arriving at Cairouan to take up 
the governorship, was to make a speech to his soldiers 
which, interpreted by the light of succeeding events, had 
almost a prophetic note: "I know well," he said, "what 
sort of commander you want," and after describing to 
them an ideal soldier "doubly cautious after victories, 


doubly brave after defeat, trusting ever in the righteous- 
ness of his cause," he lifted his hands to the mountains 
in the shadow of which they stood, and cried : " You may 
safely rely upon me as your commander, for I shall seize 
every opportunity of leading you on to victory ; and, by 
Allah ! I will not cease making incursions into yonder 
high mountains and attacking the strong passes leading 
into them, until God has depressed their summits, reduced 
their strength, and granted the Moslems the victory. I 
shall lead you on until God Almighty makes us the 
masters of all or part of the territories lying beyond 
them, and until we have subdued the countries which 
His immutable decrees have already allotted to us." 

His own province was far from being at that time 
in a state of complete subjection. His first campaign 
was against the Berbers of Arwah, who made forays 
towards Cairouan. He overthrew them and took looo 
prisoners. These were the first Berber captives taken 
to Cairouan. Then he sent one of his sons against the 
tribes. His son was successful, and returned with 100,000 
captives. He sent another son in another direction, who 
was successful, and returned with 100,000 captives. He 
himself went in a third direction, and was successful, and 
returned with another 100,000 captives. In all, upwards 
of 300,000 captives resulted from this campaign. The 
Caliph, we are told, would hardly believe it when he 
was informed that his fifth of the captives amounted to 
60,000. Musa, encouraged by his success, despatched 
his troops farther and farther into the desert. The 
Western Berber tribes of the Hawara, the Zenatah 
Kotamah, and even as far south as the Senhajah, were 
in turn taken by surprise. He fought with them — in the 
words of his historian — "battles of extermination, he 
killed myriads of them, and made a surprising number 
of prisoners, with great booty of cattle, grain, and articles 
of dress." These conquests took place in the years 699 
and 700 A.D. The fame of Musa spread so far and 
wide that all soldiers desired to serve under him in 


Africa, and the numbers of his army increased so much 
that they were doubled. Conflict was constantly renewed 
with the more warlike of the desert tribes, but "God was 
pleased to permit that the Moslems should have every- 
where the victory." By the year 702, Musa was joined 
by the van of the Egyptian army, and a great battle was 
then fought in the west, in which the Berbers were com- 
manded by their famous king Koseylah. The Moslems 
were entirely victorious, and with the spoils there were 
taken from the Berbers "innumerable maidens inestim- 
able by their beauty and accomplishments." The maidens 
were distributed amongst the soldiers as wives. This 
battle was ;the prelude of many further 'African con- 
quests, including the conquest of the territory of Morre- 
kosh. (The town of Morrekosh or Morocco was not 
founded till near the end of the eleventh century.) 

The territory of Northern Africa being conquered, and 
Arab armies driving all before them to the southern 
edges of the desert, where, as will presently be seen, the 
harried tribes found refuge in the fruitful plains of Negro- 
land, Musa turned his ambition to the sea. He ordered 
the building of a dockyard at Tunis, and himself sailed 
thither. From the moment of the completion of the dock- 
yard the port of Tunis became "a place of safety for 
ships when the winds blew at sea and the waves were 
high." Musa ordered the construction of a hundred 
vessels, and in these preparations passed the remainder 
of the year 703. 

In the year 704 all the best of his army embarked in 
an expedition which was called "The Expedition of the 
Nobles." They spoiled Sicily and returned safe. 

In 705 another [expedition against the Berbers was 
followed by their total submission. In the same year 
Syracuse was attacked by sea and spoiled. Three years 
afterwards Sardinia was attacked and immense spoil taken. 
A great expedition inland to the territory to the south of 
Morocco, lying on the slopes of the mountains between 
it and the desert, and commanding the western road to 


Negroland, resulted in the submission of that country. 
There was also a sea expedition to Majorca, which was 

By this time (708) Musa was fairly master by sea 
and land of the whole of North Africa from the Mediter- 
ranean to the borders of Negroland. His influence upon 
the Berber tribes whom he displaced or overthrew was 
twofold. One effect of his conquests was to drive them 
from their old habitations in the fruitful northern edge of 
the desert to find new habitations in the no less fruitful 
but already occupied southern edge, where to make room 
for them disturbance was necessarily produced among the 
existing black populations. The other effect was in an 
exactly opposite direction. It was to draw them into the 
circle of Arab influence and even to incorporate them 
with the nation of their conquerors. It is related of Musa 
that on his return to Egypt at a later period he was on 
one occasion asked by the Sultan to describe the various 
peoples whom he had conquered. It came to the turn of 
the Berbers, and of them he said : " The Berbers, O 
Commander of the Faithful, are of all foreign nations the 
people who resemble most the Arabs in impetuosity, 
corporal strength, endurance, military science, generosity, 
only that they are, O Commander of the Faithful, the 
most treacherous people upon earth." The Berbers them- 
selves had various traditions purporting to show that they 
were sprung from the same stock as the Arabs. It has 
already been seen that the innumerable maidens who 
were taken with the spoils of Musa's many conquests were 
regarded as ''inestimable by their beauty and accomplish- 
ments," and were distributed among his soldiers for wives. 
Musa's own sons had sons by Berber wives who rose to 
high repute. But it was not only by intermarriage, nor 
by the revival of traditions of a common stock, that the 
two races were mixed. It was also Musa's habit to spend 
the immense sums with which the Sultan rewarded his 
victories largely in the purchase of captured Berbers. 
This he did, his biographer relates, in the interests of 


religion. " Whenever after a victory there were a number 
of slaves put up for sale, he used to buy all those who, 
he thought, would willingly embrace Islam, who were of 
noble origin, and who looked, besides, as if they were 
active young men. To these he first proposed the em- 
bracing of Islam, and if, after cleansing their under- 
standing and making them fit to receive the sublime 
truths, they were converted to the best of religions, and 
their conversion was a sincere one, he would then, by way 
of putting their abilities to trial, employ them. If they 
evinced good dispositions and talents he would instantly 
grant them their liberty, appoint them to high commands 
in his army, and promote them according to their merits." 
If they showed no good dispositions, he returned them 
to the common stock of captives belonging to the army. 

The effect of such a system in bringing about an 
amalgamation of the two races and in inducing the accept- 
ance of Mohammedanism by the Berbers does not need to 
be insisted upon. The races became by degrees so mixed 
that in many cases the Berber could hardly be distinguished 
from the Arab nor the Arab from the Berber. In all 
that was subsequently done by the Arabs leading Berbers 
had their share. 

The amalgamation of the Arab and the Berber peoples, 
which could not have taken place but for the similarity in 
their dispositions noted by Musa, was very shortly to be 
illustrated in that conquest of Spain which has left Musa's 
name enshrined in the sacred places of Arab history. 

Having assured himself of the necessary command of 
the sea, Musa sent "the Berber Tarik, one of his freed- 
men," to possess himself of Tangiers and the strong places 
of the neighbouring districts with a view to crossing over 
into Spain. Tarik accordingly marched thither and took 
the strong places and cities of those Berbers. This being 
done, Tarik wrote to his master, "Musa, I have found 
here six vessels." Musa told him to take them and to sail 
for Spain. Tarik did so in the year 710, and was joined 
by Musa himself in the year 711. As is well known, the 


mountain by which the expedition entered Europe bears 
to this day the name of the military commander — the 
Mountain of Tarik, Jebr el Tarik or Gibraltar — while the 
spot, a little further along the coast, on which a lesser 
detachment landed, is known as Tarifa from the name of 
its leader Tarif, another of Musa's Berber freedmen. 
What is not perhaps so generally recognised is that the 
men who led this civilising expedition into Spain were of 
the same race as those who, driven by the same compellin,g 
cause to another fate, carried the banner of civilisation into 
Negroland. The capacity for taking high command which 
Musa recognised in the Berbers was a capacity of race 
which was sure to find its satisfaction under circumstances 
of the most diverse kind. North or south, it mattered 
little in which direction they were forced by the resistless 
pressure of a higher fate. Alike in Spain and Negroland, 
where they went in misfortune they were to remain in 
triumph, until that mysterious decadence which attends the 
fate of peoples marked them for decay. 



The fascinating story of the conquest of Spain by the 
Arabs and of the development of a civiHsation far in 
advance of anything known at the time to Western 
Europe, Hes outside the scope of this book. Yet the his- 
tory of Negroland and of Spain were in their early days 
so closely interwoven through the links of the Arab and 
Berber connection that the records of Arab civilisation 
are not altogether foreign to the history of West Africa. 

The conquest took place at the beginning of the eighth 
century, and was for all ordinary purposes complete. It 
was carried out almost entirely by Berber troops whom 
Musa continued to convert, to organise, and to draft into 
Spain. Tangiers, which had always been a Berber 
stronghold, became for this purpose his military head- 
quarters, and he was enabled perpetually to recruit his 
conquering armies with fresh troops. Tarik took 12,000 
of these converts with him on his first landing. There 
was a tradition lingering from the Greek occupation of the 
country that Spain would be conquered only "by two 
nations composed of peoples unaccustomed to the luxuries 
of life, hardened by privation and fatigue." The Arabs 
and the Andalusians alike translated the prophecy to apply 
to the Arabs and the Berbers. " For a long period," says 
one of their historians, " the Berbers and Andalusians 
had hated each other across the Straits, but Berbers 
being more in want of Andalusians than these were of 
them, owing to certain necessaries not to be procured in 
Africa, which were imported from Andalus, communi- 
cation necessarily existed between the people of both 


countries." The Berbers had long wanted Spain : Spain 
had long feared the Berbers. The conquest of Spain was 
therefore to some extent regarded as a fulfilment of the 
destiny of both nations. 

But while the Berbers claimed to be of the same stock 
as the Arabs, and were admitted, as has been seen, to 
some degree of comradeship, they were at a very inferior 
stage of civilisation. The sense of difference of the culti- 
vated Arabs was expressed by a comic poet, who suffered 
under a subsequent Berber dynasty for his readiness of 
speech. " I saw Adam in my dream," he makes one of 
his characters declare, "and I said to him, 'Oh, Father 
of Mankind ! Men generally agree that the Berbers 
are descended from thee.' ' Yes,' replied Adam, * it is 
true, but none dispute that Eve was at that time 
divorced from me.' " Brothers, but brothers of divorce, 
very fairly represents the relation which for a long time 
existed between Berber and Arab. 

Shortly after the whole of Spain was reduced there 
was a general Arab migration to it, and it was with this 
Arab migration that the high civilisation came. For 
about fifty years the Berbers in fitful revolution struggled 
against the Arabs for the sole possession of a country 
which they claimed that they and they alone had won. 
The conflict between the dynasties of the Ommeyades and 
the Abbassides in the East gave opportunities for the dis- 
affected in Spain. But about the middle of the eighth 
century, when the Abbassides succeeded in overthrowing 
the dynasty of the Ommeyades in the East and possessing 
themselves of the Caliphate, one son of the Ommeyades 
escaped into North Africa, and, after many adventures, 
established himself under the name of Abdurrahman I. 
upon the throne of his fathers in Spain. He ascended the 
throne in 757, thus separating the Caliphate of the East 
from the Caliphate of the West, and brilliantly opened the 
chapter of cultivated Arab rule in the West. 

The dynasty of the Ommeyades lasted in Spain for up- 
wards of two hundred and fifty years, and may be thought 


of as coming to an end, in power at least, about the year 
1000 A.D. ; when, after an interval of misrule, it was suc- 
ceeded in the latter part of the eleventh century, that is, 
shortly after the Norman conquest of England, by the 
purely Berber dynasty of the Almoravides. During the 
first two centuries of the rule of the Ommeyades the Arab 
dominion in Spain reached its highest point. The court 
of Abdurrahman and his successors became the centre of 
all the art, the learning, the refinement, and the elegance 
of the known world. Commerce brought to the shores of 
Spain the best productions of every land. Science was 
honoured. Arab travellers penetrated to the furthest limits 
of the Eastern hemisphere. All that India and China had 
to teach was known to them. 

They had a common saying that " Science came down 
from heaven and lodged itself in three different parts of 
man's body : in the brain among the Greeks ; in the hands 
among the Chinese ; and in the tongue among the Arabs." 
Unfortunate in the fate that subsequently befell them, the 
Arabs were fortunate in this, that during the period of 
their prosperity they had historians and poets capable 
of preserving for posterity records of the high level of 
civilisation that was reached. Religious fanaticism, which 
made a duty at a later period of sweeping the infidel out 
of Spain, made it no less a matter of conscience to destroy 
the admirable literature which centuries of enlightenment 
had amassed in the libraries of his forefathers. Fortu- 
nately, however, the writings were so copious that many 
escaped destruction, and the industry of modern research 
has brought again to light learning which was indignantly 
rejected by the religious Europe of the Middle Ages. 

To appreciate in any degree the debt which Europe 
owes to the Arab civilisation of Spain, we have to re- 
member the condition of barbarous ignorance, sloth, and 
superstition in which the Continent was plunged after the 
break-up of the Roman Empire. What the Berber was to 
North Africa, such was the Scythian, in the many divisions 
of Goths, Gauls, Huns, &c., to Europe. What the culti- 



vated northern strip lying between the mountains and the 
sea was to North Africa, such on the Continent of Europe 
was the strip lying also between the mountains and the 
sea which is known to us under the names of Italy, Spain, 
and Greece. To both these famous districts the Mediter- 
ranean had given life and the mountains defence. Beyond 
the mountains, equally on the north and on the south, 
countless hordes of nomads unacquainted with the gentler 
arts of civilisation, but vigorous and active in their bar- 
barism, awaited nothing but the opportunity of conquest. 
The Scythians and the Berbers were, in their original con- 
dition, pastoral tribes of migratory habits, feeding exclu- 
sively on meat and milk, and clothing themselves in the 
skins of animals. Of many of them it is said that they 
had never even seen bread ; this, as well on the plains 
of Europe and Asia as in the African desert. They had 
no dwelling-houses and no domestic arts. Leather tents 
or straw huts served all their temporary purpose. But 
they were hardy, abstemious, expert riders, brave, brutal, 
and proficient in all the ruder military virtues. Nothing 
strikes the student of Berber history more than the re- 
semblance to be noted between the characteristics of 
the Berber tribes and the descriptive traits recorded by 
Tacitus, and quoted by Gibbon from earlier authors, of 
the primitive inhabitants of Northern Europe. The can- 
nibalism which distinguished the extreme barbarism of 
Africa was not wanting, as we know, among the abori- 
ginals of Northern Germany. 

In Europe the decadence of Rome and the downfall 
of the Byzantine Empire gave opportunity for the northern 
tribes to possess themselves of all the outlying terri- 
tories of the Empire, and from the forced wedlock of deca- 
dence and barbarism the states of modern Europe took 
their rise. 

In Africa the strong intellectual impulse of the Jews 
and Saracens dominated the brute forces of barbarism by 
which it was surrounded, and the southern tribes, instead 
of conquering, became the instruments of conquest directed 


by a higher mind. While Europe fell to the level of her 
conquerors, Arabian civilisation rose, and, spreading 
through Africa to Spain, it maintained for the Western 
world the moral ideals and the intellectual enliofhtenment 
which, without the refuge afforded them in Spain, had 
perhaps been wholly lost. 

Medieval Arabian achievements in the higher paths of 
learning are well known. There is no branch of scientific 
development among the Western nations upon which the 
Arabs have not set their mark, either by original research, 
or by the service which they rendered in transmitting to 
their European posterity the learning accumulated by 
other generations in other lands. They initiated the 
Renaissance in Europe by preserving and translating at 
a much earlier period the great works of the Greeks. 
They gave a vivifying impulse to all the intellectual life 
of the West by introducing to it the hoarded knowledge 
of the East. In mathematics they imported much from 
India, amongst other things the numerals known to us as 
"Arabic" numerals, and with them the advantages of the 
decimal system. The word cypher, with all its deriva- 
tions, is an Arabic word. They translated from the Greek 
Euclid and the earlier geometers ; but it was to the 
original studies of an Arab geometer — Ben Musa — of the 
ninth century, that Europe owed its use of the improved 
science to which the Arabs gave its modern name of 
algebra. Ben Musa was the inventor of the common 
method of solving quadratic equations, as well as of the 
substitution of sines for chords in trigonometry. His 
system was the system commonly adopted by the Arab 
schools. The Arabs were ardent students of mathematics, 
and a long list of astronomers and physicists, from Al 
Maimon, who determined the obliquity of the ecliptic in 
830 ; through Ebn Junis, who constructed the Hakemite 
tables of the stars in 1008 ; Avicenna, the well-known 
physician and philosopher, who wrote, amongst other 
things, in the early part of the eleventh century, an 
encyclopaedia of human knowledge in twenty volumes ; 


Al Gazzali, who in 1058 was the forerunner of Descartes ; 
Al-Hazen, the optician, who estabhshed the modern theory 
of vision, basing it on clear anatomical and geometrical 
evidence, and who was the first to trace, about the year 
1 100, the curvilinear path of rays of light through the 
air, deducing from his theory of refraction a determina- 
tion of the height of the atmosphere ; to El Idrisi, the 
geographer of Roger of Sicily ; the famous Averrhoes, the 
commentator of Aristotle, who lived at the end of the 
twelfth century ; and the brilliant schools of medicine and 
surgery which adorned the thirteenth century : all serve 
to demonstrate that in the application of the abstract 
principles of science to natural phenomena, the Arabs 
luminously opened the path of modern progress. Their 
studies in chemistry were profound. Geber, or Djajar, 
who lived in the ninth century, and of whom Roger 
Bacon speaks at a much later period as the niagister 
magistrorunt of chemical science, was the first to describe 
nitric acid and aqua regia. Before him chemistry had 
no stronger acid than concentrated vinegar. The pro- 
perties and preparation of sulphuric acid and phosphorus 
soon followed. For the composition of gunpowder we 
get towards the end of the eighth century the following 
prescription: "Pulverise on a marble mortar one pound 
of sulphur, two of charcoal, and six of saltpetre." Any 
one who may have visited the royal gunpowder works 
at Waltham Abbey will know how little the prescription 
has altered, except in varying proportions, to the present 
day. In geology, also, Arabian investigations were on the 
sound path of reason. Avicenna says of mountains that 
they may be due to two different causes. " Either they 
are the effect of upheavals of the crust of the earth . . . 
or they are the effect of water which, cutting for itself a 
new route, has denuded the valleys, the strata being of 
different kinds — some soft, some hard." The Arabs were 
early acquainted with the properties of the magnet and 
the theory of gravitation. True conceptions of geology 
and astronomy led naturally to truer conceptions of the 


age of the earth and the lapse of historic time than 
have ever prevailed before the scientific era of the 
present day. 

History and geography were no less brilliantly repre- 
sented than the natural sciences. Ibn Said, who wrote in 
the middle of the thirteenth century, has preserved for us 
a vivid description of the attainments of the Arabs of 
Spain. There is no department of science or literature 
in which he does not claim pre-eminence for them, and 
supports his claim by lists of names, strange now to the 
European ear, but, if we may judge by the manner in 
which they are introduced, familiar enough to the learned 
of his time. Ibn Said himself is described by his suc- 
cessors as " the truthful historian." He was the descendant 
of a line of distinguished men, and tells us that the history 
of Andalusia, which he carried down to the year 1247, had 
taken no less than 125 years to write and six authors to 
complete it. It was conceived and carried to a certain 
stage by his great-grandfather ; it was taken further by his 
grandfather ; his two great-uncles worked upon it ; then 
•' came my father Musa, who certainly was the most 
learned and experienced of all my ancestors in these 
matters"; finally, Ibn Said himself completed the work. 
It is said that a better history of Andalusia was never 
written. Contemporary with the earlier part of this com- 
position was the geography of El Idrisi, who wrote about 
the year 11 53. Nearly the whole of this work is still 
extant. For the purpose of contrasting the state of 
knowledge of Arabic Spain with the ignorance of the 
Christian countries of the North, who had yet to wait 
nearly four hundred years for a true knowledge of the 
conformation of the earth, the following passage from it 
may be quoted : — 

"What results from the opinion of philosophers, 
learned men, and those skilled in observation of the 
heavenly bodies, is that the world is round as a sphere, 
of which the waters are adherent and maintained upon 
its surface by natural equilibrium. It is surrounded by 


air, and all created bodies are stable on its surface, the 
earth drawing to itself all that is heavy in the same way 
as a magnet attracts iron. The terrestrial globe is divided 
into two equal parts by the equinoctial line. The circum- 
ference of the earth is divided into 360 degrees each of 
25 parasangs. This is the Indian calculation. . . . From 
the equinoctial line to each pole there are 90 degrees, but 
there is no habitable land farther north than the 64th 
degree." The earth, he says elsewhere, is essentially 
round, but not of a perfect rotundity, being somewhat 
depressed at the poles. His description of the countries 
upon the earth, including England to the west and China 
to the east, is extraordinarily full, and in many essential 
particulars remains accurate to the present day. America 
alone appears to have been unknown to the Arabs, and 
when we remember that modern Europe had to wait for the 
journey of Magellan round the world in the opening years 
of the sixteenth century to be quite sure of the shape 
of the globe, we must admit that in the learning of the 
Arabs of Spain, Negroland had sources of information 
far purer than any of which England at that time could 

In every branch of science the theoretic conquests of 
the Arabs gave practical results. Spectacles and telescopes 
resulted from their study of optics. Ebn Junis, the astro- 
nomer, was the first to apply the pendulum about the year 
1000 to the measure of time, and from his abstruse studies 
in astronomy clocks became a domestic possession. The 
use of the astrolabe and the compass, revived again at a 
later period in Europe, were common to Arab navigation. 
Gunpowder has already been mentioned as a result of 
chemistry, and military science was revolutionised by the 
introduction of artillery and firearms. Improvement in 
agriculture and the introduction and acclimatisation of new 
plants were an even more important result of the same 
study, combined with that of botany, to which the Arabs 
were passionately addicted. Studies in the effects of drugs 
and the nature of plants were the basis of their medicine, 


while physiology and anatomy gave to their surgical schools 
the wide renown which they enjoyed. 

For seven centuries the medical schools of Europe 
owed everything they knew to Arabian research. The 
Arabic impression is still to be traced in the derivation of 
such words as syrup, julep, &c. Vivisection as well as 
dissection of dead bodies was practised in their anatomical 
schools, and women as well as men were trained to per- 
form some of the most delicate surgical operations. Their 
studies of the functions of the human body and the cure 
of its diseases enabled them to establish hygienic systems 
which were perhaps among the greatest of the many boons 
which they conferred upon medieval Europe. Every court 
and household of importance had at one time its Jewish or 
Saracen physician. Amongst other very eminent names 
may be quoted for surgery Albucasis of Cordova, and for 
medicine Ibn Zohr. 

Ibn Zohr, more generally known as Avenzoar, was 
regarded as the great authority in Moorish pharmacy. 
He lived in the first half of the twelfth century, and 
was contemporary of another and almost equally eminent 
physician, Al Far. A story is told of these two which 
is not without application to the dietetic controversies of 
the present day. Ibn Zohr was very fond of green figs, 
and ate them freely. Al Far never ate them, and he used 
to say to Ibn Zohr: "If you eat figs to that extent you 
will have a very bad abscess." Ibn Zohr replied : " If you 
don't eat them you will be subject to fever and die of 
constipation." Ibn Zohr was right. Al Far had fever 
and died of constipation. But Al Far was also right. 
Shortly after Al Ear's death, Ibn Zohr was attacked by a 
bad abscess and died of it in Seville in 1 161. The daughter 
and granddaughter of this Ibn Zohr were both accom- 
plished female doctors. Avempace was another physician 
of the twelfth century whose reputation was European. 
Averrhoes, also deeply versed in medicine, was a personal 
friend of Ibn Zohr. 

In the higher departments of jurisprudence and poli- 


tical economy, as well as in the literary fields of grammar, 
logic, poetry, and biography, the Arabian schools excelled. 
Their schools, colleges, and universities were the resort 
of the learned of all nations ; but it was perhaps specially 
in the material development of their civilisation that their 
prosperity had its most direct effect in stimulating com- 
mercial intercourse with Negroland. 

An Arab historian, writing in the sixteenth century, 
says of Cordova, where Abdurrahman I. established his 
court : " One thing is certain, namely, that trade and 
agriculture flourished in this place during the reigns of 
the sons of Ommeyah, in a degree which has scarcely 
been witnessed in any city of the world. Its market 
was always over-stocked with the fruits of the land, the 
productions of every district, and the best of every country. 
No robe, however costly, no drug, however scarce, no 
jewel, however precious, no rarity of distant and unknown 
lands, but was to be procured in the bazaar of Cordova, 
and found hundreds of purchasers." There were 471 
mosques and 300 public baths, of which the numbers 
afterwards increased. One "trustworthy writer" counted 
the number of houses under the Caliph Al Mansur, and 
found 63,000 of the "great and noble, and 200,077 ^^ 
the common people " ; there were at the same time up- 
wards of 80,000 shops. Water from the mountains was 
conveyed to the royal palace of Cordova, and "thence 
distributed through every corner and quarter of the 
city by means of leaden pipes into basins of different 
shapes, made of the purest gold, the finest silver, or 
plated brass, as well as into vast lakes, curious tanks, 
amazing reservoirs, and fountains of Grecian marble 
beautifully carved." 

The town in the time of the Ommeyades measured 
twenty-four miles by six, the greater part of which area was 
covered by mosques, palaces, and the houses of the great 
standing in beautiful gardens. These houses were palaces 
of luxury, magnificently decorated, cooled in summer by 
ingeniously arranged draughts of fresh air drawn from 



the garden over beds of jdowers chosen for their perfume, 
warmed in winter by hot air conveyed through pipes 
bedded in the walls. There were bath-rooms supplied 
with hot and cold water. There were boudoirs, drawing- 
rooms, libraries, halls, corridors, and galleries lighted by 
windows of clear and coloured glass. Clusters of columns 
of marble, either plain or incrusted with more precious 
substances, supported roofs of mosaic and gold. The 
walls were decorated with mosaics, or covered with arab- 
esque and floral paintings. The furniture was of the most 
precious and varied description. It was made of sandal 
and citron and other woods brought from the tropics, and 
curiously inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ivory, silver, and gold. 
There were tables of gold, set with emeralds, rubies, 
and pearls. In winter the walls were hung with tapestry, 
the floors were covered with thick Persian carpets, of which 
the most magnificent were embroidered with gold and 
pearls. There were luxurious couches piled with pillows. 
Vases of porcelain and crystal were filled with flowers. 
Rare and curious objects from all parts of the world were 
brought together to satisfy the eye and taste. In the 
evening the rooms were lit by wax candles, which were 
distributed by groups of hundreds in chandeliers that 
hung from the ceilings. Great skill and taste were de- 
voted to the design and workmanship of these chandeliers. 
They were often made from the metal found in the 
bells of Christian churches, and when this was the case, 
there seems to have been a special pleasure in designing 
them for use in the mosques. One famous chandelier is 
mentioned which held no less than 1804 candles. The 
gardens in which the great houses stood are described 
by every writer in terms of rapture. Bowers of roses ; 
orange and pomegranate groves ; shaded walks, over 
which lemon-trees were trained, so that the fruit when 
ripe "hung down like little lamps" ; successions of colour 
and perfume, to procure which plants were brought from 
all parts of the world. Sometimes, to please a favourite 
wife, a whole hillside would be planted with her chosen 


colour. The use of water was thoroughly understood. 
Fountains, cascades, and lakes gave coolness and mois- 
ture to the air, and also provided opportunities for the 
keeping of fish and the special cultivation of water-plants. 
Garden fruits and vegetables were cultivated in rare 
perfection and variety. In the gardens there were laby- 
rinths, and marble playing-courts. There were menageries 
of curious animals, and aviaries of foreign birds. Botany, 
horticulture, zoology, and ornithology were passions no 
less of the learned than of the rich. 

In the town of Cordova, for a distance of ten miles, 
the streets were lit at night by lamps placed close to 
one another. The descriptions of the mosques and build- 
ings of Cordova — including the famous mosque with the 
360 arches, and the even more famous palace of Azzahra, 
which took forty years to build, and contained the Hall 
of the Caliphs, roofed in pure gold, and lighted at will 
by fountains of quicksilver, which, when they were set 
in motion, caused the room "to look in an instant as if 
it were traversed by flashes of lightning " — are so elaborate 
as to fill many volumes. The size of the Azzahra palace 
may be imagined from the fact that it had 15,000 doors. 
It had amongst its many beauties remarkable fountains 
and terraces of polished marble, which overhung "match- 
less gardens." It was filled with works of art, and, ac- 
cording to one writer, it was such that "travellers from 
distant lands, men of all ranks, following various religions, 
princes, ambassadors, merchants, pilgrims, theologians, 
and poets, who were conversant with edifices of this 
kind, and had surveyed this, all agreed that they had 
never seen in the course of their travels anything that 
could be compared to it." 

The other cities of the Arabs in Spain were no less 
remarkable. In the garden of one of the palaces of 
Toledo there was an artificial lake, in the centre of which 
there was a kiosk of stained glass adorned with gold. 
" The architect so contrived this that by certain geo- 
metrical rules the water of the lake was made to ascend 


to the top of the dome, and then, dropping at both sides, 
join the waters of the lake. In this room the Sultan could 
sit untouched by the water, which fell everywhere round 
him, and refreshed the air in the hot season. Sometimes, 
too, wax tapers were lighted within the room, producing 
an admirable effect on the transparent walls of the kiosk." 
It is worth remembering that glass was not introduced into 
English domestic architecture until the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth, and that the period at which this kiosk is de- 
scribed was contemporary with the Saxon Heptarchy. 

Seville, with its famous gardens, its noble squares, 
its great observatory, its suspension bridge, was regarded 
as one of the most important of Arab towns. Granada 
was the Damascus of Andalusia, very famous under the 
Almohade Sultans. Malaga, with its numerous towers, 
had the advantages of land and sea. It was famous very 
early in its history for the manufacture of forbidden wine. 
Its oil and its figs were known all over the world, so were 
its silks, especially the brocades, for which it had beautiful 
designs. Its export trade extended to India and China. 
Almeria was another of the rich coast towns. It had a 
dockyard in which very fine vessels were built. It was, 
according to an Arab author, Ash-shakandi, the "greatest 
mart in Andalusia : Christians of all nations came to its 
port to buy and sell, and they had factories established in 
it, where they loaded their vessels with such goods as 
they wanted, owing to which, and to its being a very 
opulent and large city, filled with passengers and mer- 
chants, the produce of the tithe imposed upon the goods 
and paid by the Christian merchants amounted to very 
considerable sums, and exceeded that collected in any 
other seaport." 

Almeria gained this trade largely by its famous manu- 
factures of silk, and especially of brocades and damasks 
and tissues of gold and silver. Thousands of hands were 
engaged in each branch of the silk trade. It was also 
famous for the manufacture of pottery and glass and what 
we should in the present day call hardware. Ships from 


the East brought to its ports all the finest wares of India 
and China. " Almeria," says the author already quoted, 
"is an opulent and magnificent city, whose fame has 
spread far and wide. God has endowed its inhabitants 
with various gifts, such as a temperate climate and 
abundance of fruits ; they are handsome, well - made, 
good-natured, very hospitable, very much attached to 
their friends, and are above all things very refined in 
their manners, and very elegant in their dress. Its coast 
is the finest in all the Mediterranean as well as the safest 
and the most frequented." Its inhabitants were said to 
be the wealthiest in all Andalusia, and they would appear 
to have somehow solved the problem of creating a manu- 
facturing town without loss of beauty, for all authors vie 
with one another in extolling the charm and picturesque- 
ness of the town. It had no less than a thousand public 
baths, and for forty miles the course of the river, " which 
contributed no little to the ornament of the city and the 
environs," was "through orchards, gardens, and groves, 
where singing birds delight with their harmony the ears 
of the traveller." 

All the towns of the Arabs had public gardens planted 
with groves of fine orange, pomegranate, and other trees, 
of which the remains are still to be seen in the Alamedas 
of Southern Spain. Abdurrahman I. was "passionately 
fond of flowers." He planted beautiful gardens, to which 
he brought all kinds of rare and exotic plants and fine 
trees from foreign countries. He introduced good systems 
of irrigation. His passion for flowers and plants led him 
to send agents to Syria, India, and other countries with 
a commission to procure him all sorts of seeds and plants, 
many of which he successfully acclimatised in the royal 
gardens, and this custom, followed by his successors and 
adopted by the rich, led to the introduction of many fruits 
and plants previously unknown even to cultivated Rome. 
Among these, cotton, rice, the sugar-cane, the pome- 
granate, and the peach may be mentioned, but many of 
our garden vegetables have also come to us from the same 


source. It may be worth noting that the peach, to which we 
are in the habit of attributing a Persian origin, was found 
by the Persians, according to Strabo, in the eastern part 
of Negroland, where it was cultivated by the Ethiopians 
at the period of the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses. 
It does not seem to be native to Negroland, and the 
presumption is that it may have been introduced into the 
valley of the Nile from India. Nevertheless we may 
accept it as a pleasant fruit of the early intercourse of 
Egypt with Negroland. 

Amone the vepfetables which we owe to the Arab 
passion for gardening is asparagus. This was introduced 
somewhat later than the peach by a certain courtier and 
epicure of the name of Zaryab, who came to Andalusia in 
821. This Zaryab, who, like Tarik, Tarif, and others, was 
a freedman, was a celebrated musician. He improved the 
lute, adding a fifth string to the four which up to his time 
had sufficed, and founded a great school of music. He 
was renowned throughout Spain, enjoyed a public pension, 
and on one occasion, when he came to Cordova, the Sultan 
himself, to show the respect which he held to be due to 
talent, rode out to meet him. Zaryab appears to have 
been a remarkable as well as an extraordinarily popular 
person. He was not only talented but learned. He was 
an astronomer and geographer. He had a prodigious 
memory. " He was, moreover, gifted with so much pene- 
tration and wit, he had so deep an acquaintance with the 
various branches of polite literature, he possessed in so 
eminent a degree the charms of polite conversation and 
the talents requisite to entertain an audience . . . that 
there never was either before or after him a man of his 
profession who was more generally beloved and admired. 
Kings and great people took him for a pattern of manners 
and education, and his name became for ever celebrated 
among the inhabitants of Andalusia." 

Zaryab, who is worth quoting individually as having 
been evidently a leader of fashion in the most civilised 
court of Europe in the early half of the ninth century, 


appears to have disdained no detail of daily life. Aspara- 
gus is not the only dish which he added to the menus of 
his day. He was fastidious about cooking, and invented 
many good things. He also introduced the fashion of 
being served on crystal instead of on gold or silver, with 
other refinements of the table. The manufacture of glass 
was introduced into Spain by an Arab of the name of 
Furnas at about this period. Zaryab also set the fashion 
of changing dress for four seasons of the year instead of 
for only two, as was the custom before his day. The 
curious in such matters may read in the Arab chronicles 
what was worn — silks and muslins, wadded clothes and 
furs, according to the time of year. The ladies were 
also extremely fond of jewels, and wore even jewelled 
shoes, for which they would give as much as £\20 a 
pair. But in dress as in food, Zaryab specially valued the 
refinement of cleanliness. Before his time the Kings of 
Andalusia, we are told, used to have their clothes washed 
in water of roses and other garden flowers, the conse- 
quence of which was that they never looked quite clean. 
Zaryab taught them a method in which, by adding salt 
to the mixture, "the linen could be made clear and 
white." The chronicle gravely records that the " experi- 
ment having been tried, every one approved of it," and 
Zaryab was much praised for the invention. It was the 
reputation of the Arabs that they were "the cleanest 
people upon earth " in all that related to their person, dress, 
beds, and the interior of their houses. Indeed, we are 
told, "they carried cleanliness so far that it was not an 
uncommon thing for a man of the lower classes to spend 
his last coin in soap instead of buying food for his daily 
consumption, and thus go without his dinner rather than 
appear in public in dirty clothes." By way of contrast 
in habits we may recall certain Irish earls, who, towards 
the end of the Desmond rebellion about 1581, are described 
as sleeping with their ladies and all their servants in a 
hall so dirty as to be "not fit for a hog cote," while the 
only toilet that the ladies made in the morning was "to 


get up and shake their ears." Zaryab flourished some seven 
centuries before the ladies whose toilet was so simple. He 
was the contemporary of Egbert and Charlemagne. 

The contrast between Arab civilisation and the civilisa- 
tion of Northern Europe of that date is sharply accentuated 
by the fact that, while the literature of the Arabs was such 
as to remain for our instruction to this day, Charlemagne, 
the greatest monarch of the West, could not write. Spain 
under the Arabs truly deserved, as we have seen, its name 
as the " noble repository " of learning. One of the four 
principal things in which Cordova was said to surpass all 
other cities was "the sciences therein cultivated." It was 
reputed to be the city of the earth where the greatest 
number of books was to be found, One of the Ommeyade 
Sultans was " so fond of books that he is said to have 
converted Andalusia into a great market whereto the 
literary productions of every clime were brought imme- 
diately for sale." He also collected round him, and 
employed in his own palace, the most skilful men of his 
time in binding, transcribing, and illuminating books. He 
amassed such literary treasures as no sovereign before or 
after him, to the knowledge of his biographers, had ever 
possessed. It is said of him that he was so fond of 
reading that he preferred the pleasure of perusing his 
books to all the enjoyments which royalty could afford. 
He himself wrote a voluminous history of Andalusia. 
His collection of books founded the great library of 
Cordova, which remained until the taking of the city by 
the Berbers in a.d. ioio. The catalogue alone consisted 
of forty-four volumes. 

Every wealthy man in Cordova had his own library. 
To such an extent did this rage for collection increase, says 
Ibn Said, that any man in a prominent position considered 
himself obliged to have a library of his own, and would 
spare no trouble or expense in collecting books. Books 
were an expensive luxury too. A story is told of a 
certain writer, richer in learning than in other goods, 
greatly desiring a book, and watching for it daily in the 


market till it came, "a beautiful copy, elegantly written." 
He immediately bid for it and increased his bidding, but 
to his great disappointment he was outbid, though the 
price was beyond the value of the book. The book went 
to his competitor. He approached to congratulate the 
learned owner, but the man who had acquired it said : 
" I am no Doctor ; neither do I know what the contents 
of the book are ; but I am making a library, and there is 
a vacant space which, as my means are ample, I resolved 
to fill with this volume." The reader echoes with sym- 
pathy the reply of the Doctor: "It is ever so; he gets 
the nut who has no teeth." 

Cordova was not singular in its literary reputation. 
All the great towns had good libraries, and the Arabs 
in Andalusia had a handwriting of their own which they 
adopted at some period subsequent to their arrival in 
Spain. It has already been mentioned that one of the 
distinctions by which it has been made possible to learned 
French research to trace the different origin of the 
civilisation of Eastern and Western Negroland is the 
employment of the Eastern alphabet of Arabia and Egypt 
in the one, and the Western alphabet of Morocco and 
Spain in the other. In addition to the geometricians, 
astronomers, geographers, mechanicians, botanists, chemists, 
physicians, who appear to have collected all that was 
known in Asia as well as Europe, and who wrote volumin- 
ously — the works of many of them amounting to fifty and 
sixty volumes — every branch of literature was represented. 
There were histories, essays, poems ; there were treatises 
upon arithmetic, grammar, poetry, rhetoric, canon and 
civil law, jurisprudence, logic. Lists of distinguished 
writers have been preserved in biographical dictionaries 
which have escaped destruction, and it is therefore pos- 
sible to some extent to reconstruct the intellectual life of 
the day. It would appear to have been active, charming, 
polished. The Arabs claimed for their children and their 
women that they had a natural gift for poetry, narrative, 
and repartee. They appear to have had a sufficient 


number of poets to furnish matter for biographies of 
poets, of which one is mentioned as having been in ten 
volumes. Philosophy, theology, metaphysics, were richyl 
represented, and fiction was not neglected. 

The minor arts, as we have seen, were warmly 
encouraged. Seville, which was the special home of 
music, had a large export trade in musical instruments, 
which it sent to Africa. In this town it was said that 
every musical instrument was to be obtained. Toledo 
was the centre of steel and metal work. In Cordova, 
the famous Cordovan leather, of which the skins were 
imported from Negroland, was worked into many designs 
and extensively used in beautiful book bindings. All 
the arts to which elaborate architecture and luxurious 
domestic life gave rise were, of course, highly developed. 
Painting appears to have been restricted chiefly to decora- 
tive work, but we are repeatedly told that the palaces of 
southern Spain were filled with works of art. 

It is interesting to note that in the great days of 
Mohammedan Spain, Arabian women were not confined^ 
as in the East, to harems, but appeared freely in public 
and took their share in all the intellectual, literary, and 
even scientific movements of the day. Women held 
schools in some of the principal towns. There were 
women poets, historians, and philosophers, as well as 
women surgeons and doctors. 

A national life, so varied and active, having a commerce 
which reached to the confines of the known world, naturally 
drew material for its consumption from every source with 
which it was acquainted. Negroland offered to Saracen 
Spain many of the same sources of supply which our 
tropical colonies offer to us, and it will presently be seen 
how deeply the development of Negroland was affected by 
the high civilisation of the Peninsula. 




The dynasty of the Ommeyades lasted nominally in Spain 
until the year 103 1 ; but the visible decay of its power 
may be placed about the year 1000. 

Abdurrahman III., one of the greatest of the Western 
Caliphs, reigned for fifty years, between the dates of 911 
and 961 A.D. He was the first to assume the title of 
Commander of the Faithful in the West, and his reign 
may be taken as marking the highest epoch of Moham- 
medan authority in Europe. The Christian nations of 
the North represented to the Mohammedans of that day 
nothing more than barbarism, and in levying successful 
war upon them, Abdurrahman took the place of the 
champion of civilisation. Every year he renewed his 
attacks. He carried war by land across the Pyrenees, 
and his fleets dominated the Mediterranean. 

"In this manner," says his chronicler, "the Moslems 
subdued the country of the Franks beyond the utmost 
limits reached during the reigns of his predecessors. The 
Christian nations beyond the Pyrenees extended to him 
the hand of submission, and their kings sent costly presents 
to conciliate his favour. Even the kings of Rome, Con- 
stantinople, Germany, Sclavonia, and other distant parts, 
sent ambassadors asking for peace and suspension of 
hostilities, and offering to agree to any conditions which 
he should dictate." The most elaborate receptions were 
accorded to these embassies, and it is rather interesting 
to note incidentally in a description of the reception of 
the embassy from Constantinople, which took place with 
extraordinary magnificence in the year 949, that amongst 


other things brought by the ambassadors there was a 
letter enclosed in a gold case, with a portrait of the 
Emperor Constantine, "admirably executed" in stained 

Abdurrahman, moved, it is said, by the consideration 
that he could not afford to have any hostile power so close 
to the borders of Spain as Western Africa, subdued also 
a great portion of Africa. He thus established the power 
of the Western Caliphate from the borders of Negroland 
to the Pyrenees, and this double kingdom was known 
by the name of Adouatein, or " The Two Shores." In 
the course of all his wars he suffered but one serious 
defeat, and he had the surname of "the Victorious." 
" Never," it is said, " was the Mohammedan Empire more 
prosperous than during his reign. Commerce and agri- 
culture flourished ; the sciences and arts received a new 
impulse, and the revenue was increased tenfold." It was 
under this Abdurrahman that cotton manufacture was 
first established in Europe in the year 930. The Arabs 
also introduced the art of printing calicoes from wooden 

Abdurrahman is described as the mildest and most 
enlightened sovereign that ever ruled. His meekness, 
his generosity, and his love of justice became proverbial. 
None of his ancestors surpassed him in courage in the 
field ; he was fond of science, and the patron of the 
learned, with w hom he loved to converse, spending those 
hours that he stole from the arduous labours of the ad- 
ministration in literary meetings, to which all the eminent 
poets and learned men of his court were admitted. 

It is an interesting comment on this half-century of 
glory and prosperity that, after Abdurrahman's death, a 
paper was found in his own handwriting, in which those 
days that he had spent in happiness were carefully noted 
down, and, on numbering them, they were found to amount 
to fourteen ! 

Before the nominal end of the Ommeyade dynasty a 
usurper, Al Mansur, "called in Berbers and Zenatahs, 


whom he divided into companies according to their tribes," 
and made himself Sultan. Al Mansur became one of the 
great Caliphs, and established a splendid dominion in 
Western Africa. But the fact that he was a usurper held 
in power by African tribes introduced a dangerous element 
of disruption into the body-politic of the Caliphate in 
Spain. The Berbers of Africa began to recognise their 
power. The descendants of the original Berbers who, 
with the Arabs, had effected the conquest of Spain, were 
growing soft with the pleasures and the luxury of a high 
civilisation. Their ruder brothers in Africa had kept 
their vigour, and began to realise the possibilities which 
it opened to them. A great African revolt was organised, 
the result of which was that Al Mansur gave Fez in 
sovereignty to the Berber chiefs of the Zenatah tribes, 
together with a good bit of Western Africa, including the 
southern province of what we now call Morocco. Side 
by side with the dominion of the Caliphs, local sovereign- 
ties in Africa acquired importance, and the ambitions thus 
partially gratified were not long limited to Africa. 

Al Mansur died in 1002, and Arab historians are in 
practical agreement that from this time the Mohammedan 
Empire in Spain began to show signs of decay. Perpetual 
claimants of the throne of the Caliphs employed African 
troops in Spain. Between 1020 and 1030 the whole of 
Andalusia submitted with revolts and civil wars to the 
Berbers. It became the habit of the reigning Caliph to 
employ a black bodyguard drawn from Negroland, and, 
instead of maintaining the old attitude of united hostility 
to the Christians on their northern borders, each faction 
in turn called in Christian help. 

It was not long before the Christian armies dominated 
the situation. The limits of the Arab Empire became 
narrower, and the power of the Caliphs was broken. 
Cordova, Granada, Malaga, Seville, became separate 
principalities. Here is a view of the situation as pre- 
sented by an Arab historian of the sixteenth century : " In 
Africa as well as in Andalusia the possessions of the 


Ummeyah were broken up into petty provinces, thus 
giving an opportunity to the cruel enemy of God to attack 
in detail the divided Moslems, and to expel them at last 
from those countries which they had so long held in their 
power." Alfonso VI. took Toledo in 1081. In the 
following year Al Mutammed, the Arab king of Seville, 
refused to pay him tribute, and Alfonso swore to drive the 
Arabs into the sea at Gibraltar. In this extremity Al 
Mutammed looked across the straits for help, and Africa 
once more intervened directly in the affairs of Spain. 

To understand the position which had been reached in 
Africa, it is necessary to go back for a few years. It has 
been mentioned that of the two main roads by which com- 
munication between Negroland and Northern Africa was 
maintained, one lay across the western deserts in a direc- 
tion almost due south of the territory now known as 
Morocco. The consequence of many wars in Northern 
Africa had been to force down certain Berber tribes upon 
the western confines of Negroland. " From time im- 
memorial," says Ibn Khaldun, " the Molet-themim (or 
Wearers of the Veil) had been in the Sandy Desert. As 
brave as they were wild, they had never bowed under a 
foreign yoke. Having increased their numbers in the 
vast plains of the desert, they formed several tribes — the 
Goddala, the Lemtunah, the Messonfah, the Outzila, the 
Tuareg, the Zegowah, and the Lamta. These people 
were all brothers of the Senajah, who lived between the 
Atlantic and Ghadames," that is, in the western half of 
Northern Africa. 

The Lemtunah were already a powerful nation obeying 
hereditary kings when the Omrneyade dynasty reigned in 
Spain, and the western portion of the desert over which they 
ruled was known as the " Desert Empire." At that time 
also the Negro nations of the West were very powerful, 
but at a later period, after the Lemtunahs had subdued 
the lesser tribes, the Western kingdom of the Negroes 
began to decay. The Lemtunah made war upon them and 
forced them partially to accept Islam. Under Tiloutan, a 


Lemtunah king who died in the year 837, the Desert 
Empire reached its height. Twenty Negro kings paid 
tribute to him. It is said of his kingdom that the cHmate 
was so healthy that men commonly reached in it the age 
of eighty. The sons and successors of Tiloutan reigned 
successfully until the year 918, when the dynasty was 
overthrown by the Senajah. After this there was confu- 
sion mixed with conquest for about 1 20 years, until there 
came to the throne a Senajah ruler of the name of Yahya, 
under whom there took place a union of the tribes which 
resulted in the foundation of the Empire of Morocco. 

In 1048 Yahya made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and 
brought back with him for the instruction of his people a 
religious teacher, Ibn Yasin. The united tribes had never 
wholly abandoned the nomad habits of their ancestors. 
They were a hardy, active people, who had kept the 
abstemious customs of the desert. Their principal wealth 
consisted in their flocks. They were among those of 
whom it was said that many of them passed their lives 
without ever seeing bread. They had long since em- 
braced Islam, but they had apparently strayed from the 
true path, and the reformation preached by Ibn Yasin was 
stern. Severe penalties were imposed on wrong-doing. 
The man who told a lie was beaten with eighty strokes ; 
the man who drank wine was beaten with eighty strokes ; 
serious offences were more heavily punished ; and every 
stranger who joined the sect was required to forfeit 
one-third of his property by way of redemption for any 
injustice by which he might have acquired the rest. 

The pressure of these doctrines in application produced 
a revolt. Ibn Yasin with a few of his followers with- 
drew to an island in the Senegal, the river which formed 
the southern frontier of the Desert Kingdom, Here he 
practised in rigid seclusion all he taught. The fame of 
his doctrine spread through the West, and thousands 
flocked to him, till at last, seeing the number of his 
followers daily increase, he declared to them that it was 
not enough to accept the truth themselves, they must also 


constrain the world to accept it. He gave to his disciples 
the name of " Morabites," or "Champions of the Faith," 
afterwards known as " Al Moravides," and proceeded to 
preach a Holy War. To "maintain the truth, to repress 
injustice, and to abolish all taxes not based on law " was 
the formula of faith with which this relicrious movement 
started from the extreme south of the then known Western 
world. The Emir Yahya assumed command, and under 
his leadership the Almoravides began that triumphant 
march to the north which was to end only on the throne 
of Spain. Yahya died in 1056 after a successful campaign 
which established his power in South- Western Morocco. 
He was succeeded by his brother Abou Bekr, who led the 
Almoravides to further conquest. Their dominion spread 
across the Atlas Mountains to the sea, and they subdued 
all the territory to the western coast. 

In 1 06 1 dissensions breaking out amongst the tribes in 
the south, Abou Bekr returned to his Desert Kingdom, 
leaving his cousin Yusuf Tachefin in command in the 
north. This proved to be a final division. Abou Bekr 
succeeded in reconciling his unruly tribes, and to give an 
outlet to their energies he led them to the conquest of 
Negroland, the northern border of which he overran for 
a distance of ninety days' march from his own territory. 
This should have carried him to the Haussa States. But 
he returned no more to take command in the north. In 
the year 1062 Yusuf laid the foundation of the town of 
Morocco with his own hands, and not long afterwards 
declared the independence of the northern kingdom of 
which it was to become the capital. Abou Bekr acquiesced, 
and Yusuf, left to himself, continued the conquest of North- 
Western Africa. By the year 1082 he had long been the 
supreme ruler of that portion of the world. His court had 
begun to attract the learning and civilisation which civil 
war was driving out of Spain, and we are told that it was 
filled with Arabs from the frontier towns which had sub- 
mitted to Alfonso. These men, "with tears in their eyes 
and sorrow in their hearts, had come to Yusuf to implore 


his protection." It was to this court and to this man that 
Al Mutammed of Seville came in 1083 to ask for help 
against the Christians. 

Yusuf is described as a " wise and shrewd man, neither 
too prompt in his determinations, nor too slow in carrying 
them into effect." He had passed the greater part of his 
life in his native deserts exposed to hunger and privation, 
and had no taste for a life of pleasure. It is expressly said 
of him that he did not speak Arabic. When, therefore, he 
consented to cross over to Spain, and in the course of time 
drove back the Christians and established once more a 
supreme Sultan upon the throne of Andalusia, his con- 
quest and the dynasty which he founded must be regarded 
as an African conquest and an African dynasty. The 
Almoravides ruling in Spain were identically the same 
race as that which, moving from the West, imposed Islam 
on the races of Negroland, and established kingdoms, of 
which we shall presently hear, along the courses of the 
Niger and the Senegal. 

It is stated that when Yusuf crossed to Spain there 
was no tribe of the western desert that was not represented 
in his army, and it was the first time that the people of 
Spain had ever seen camels used for the purpose of 
mounting cavalry. Forming part of the army which 
fought at Zalakah in 1086 there were also some thousands 
of blacks armed with Indian swords and short spears, 
and shields covered with hippopotamus hide. This battle 
drove the Christian forces out of southern Spain and laid 
the foundation of Yusuf's Spanish Empire. When, after 
fighting it, Yusuf marched to Seville, the comforts and 
luxury of that town, far from raising in his mind the 
admiration and astonishment that might have been ex- 
pected, impressed him with very different sentiments. His 
councillors and courtiers pointed out to him the advan- 
tages which power conferred in a civilised country. " It 
strikes me," he replied, "that this man (meaning the King 
of Seville) is throwing away the power which has been 
placed in his hands. Instead of giving his attention to 


the good administration and defence of his kingdom, he 
thinks of nothing else than satisfying the cravings of his 

Not long afterwards, when Yusuf had returned to Africa, 
his generals informed him that the whole of the fighting 
against the Christians was left to them, while the Kings 
of Andalusia remained sunk in pleasure and sloth. They 
asked for his instructions, and were ordered to conquer 
the Kings of Andalusia, and to appoint to every city or 
town as it fell into their power a governor from among 
the officers of Yusufs army. Town after town fell to 
the army of the Almoravides, till Seville itself was taken, 
and the King sent a prisoner into Africa, where he died 
in 1095. 

Yusuf died in 11 06. His son succeeded to the Sul- 
tanate of North Africa and Spain ; and the Almoravide 
dynasty continued to reign with a double court, one in 
Africa and one in Spain, the Sultan residing alternately 
in either until the African dominion was overthrown in 
1 142, and the Spanish dominion three years later, in 1 145. 
The last Almoravide sovereign of Africa and Spain was, 
according to Ibn Khaldun, executed in the presence of 
the Almohade conqueror in 1147. During the whole of 
this period, as under the dynasty of the Ommeyades, 
intercourse between Spain and Negroland was freely 



Although the Almoravides on their first entrance into 
Spain came as reformers from the desert, preaching a 
stern doctrine of abnegation, they yielded rapidly to the 
seduction of Spanish luxury, and in little more than half a 
century they are spoken of by Arab historians as having 
become soft and effeminate like their predecessors. The 
probability is that the body of the Moors in Spain re- 
mained what they had been before the Almoravide in- 
vasion, and the course of history was not altered, but only 
delayed, by the African conquest. 

In the same spirit of religious reform which had stirred 
the founder of the Almoravide sect, a Mahdi arose in the 
early part of the twelfth century in the northern provinces 
of Ifrikiah, and preached a doctrine so stringent that he 
excited a revolt among the populace, and was obliged to 
fly from the anger of the Sultan. He appeared first in 
Bugia in 1 1 18, and preached his ascetic reforms in Telem- 
9an, Fez, Mequinez, and Morocco. Everywhere he excited 
the anger of the people, and towards 1121 he withdrew 
into the desert, where gradually disciples began to join him 
in great numbers. The authorities persecuted him here 
also, and he then called upon the Mesmudian Berbers to 
rally to his cause, to defend his person, and to declare a 
Holy War in defence of the doctrine of the Unity of God. 
He declared himself to be the Mahdi, and he gave to 
his followers the title of Almohades or Unitarians. He 
entrenched himself in the Mountain of Tinmelel in the 
southern fastnesses of the Atlas chain, and this spot 
remained the stronghold of the sect until their final ex- 


tinction as a political power about a hundred years later. 
The original Mahdi died in 11 28, but this event had little 
effect upon the sect. In 11 30 a war began between the 
Almohades and the Almoravides in Africa, which ended 
in 1 147 by the capture of Morocco and the execution of 
the reigning Almoravide sovereign. 

No sooner was the province of Morocco subdued than 
the Almohades crossed into Spain, and after a determined 
contest with the Christian armies, who were only with the 
greatest difficulty prevented from taking Cordova, Mussul- 
man Spain swore fealty in 11 50 to the Almohades. Thus 
for a second time a purely African dynasty reigned upon the 
most civilised throne of Europe. This same Almohade con- 
queror reconstructed the Moorish fleet, and added to it no 
less than 460 vessels. His reign, which lasted until 1163, 
was a period of constant war, during which he was com- 
pelled to put out all his strength against the Christians. 
He succeeded in holding his own with difficulty, and his 
successor united all the tribes of North Africa in a Holy 
War against the "infidels of Spain." It is curious to read 
in the Arab chronicles the history of the Crusades told 
from the other side. It will be remembered that the 
famous Saladin took Jerusalem in 1187. In 1189 this 
Caliph of the Eastern Arabs appealed to the reigning 
Almohade Caliph of the West, El Mansour, to assist with 
his maritime forces in the sieges of Acre, Tyre, and Tripoli, 
and according to one historian 180 ships sent by the 
African Sultan prevented the Christians from landing in 

Under the great Almohade sovereigns the glory of the 
Arabs in Spain was well maintained. Monuments of their 
civil activity remain in the Castle of Gibraltar, which they 
built in 1160, and in the great mosque of Seville, which 
was begun in 1183. The Giralda or tower of Seville — 
not, alas ! now perhaps to be spoken of as existing — was 
built as an observatory under the superintendence of the 
mathematician Geber in 11 96. The Almoravides had 
fixed their Spanish Court at Seville. The Almohades 


imported to their African Court in Morocco workmen 
from all parts of Spain. Ibn Said describes Morocco in 
the thirteenth century as the " Baghdad of the West," 
and says that it was never so prosperous as under the 
early Almohadcs. Both dynasties had two courts, one 
in Africa and one in Spain. Thus, whatever was the 
prosperity or greatness of one part of their empire, it was 
shared by the other, and under the Almohades there was 
a shifting towards the African centre. 

A good deal of jealousy seems to have existed between 
the natives of the " Two Shores" as to the merits of their 
respective territories. A certain distinguished citizen of 
Tangier, Abu Yahya, arguing on one occasion with the 
Sheikh Ash-shakandi of Cordova — who flourished under 
the later Almohades and died 1231 — on the advantages of 
their respective countries, provoked Ash-shakandi to say : 
" Were it not for Andalusia, Africa, thy country, would 
never have been known." " Do you really mean," replied 
the African, "to say that excellency and power reside 
anywhere in such degree as amongst us ? Prove it ! " 
The Caliph, who was listening to the dispute, interposed. 
He said that it was too serious to be decided by extempore 
speaking, and ordered each disputant to put his views in 
writing. Hence the celebrated epistle of Ash-shakandi, 
written under the last of the Almohades, to which we are 
indebted for a great deal of contemporary information. 
It states the case for the civilisation of the Spanish half 
of the empire. Unfortunately the counter-statement of 
Abu Yahya, maintaining the claims of the African half, 
has not been preserved. 

" He pretends to make Africa superior to Andalusia!" 
exclaims Ash-shakandi in derision of his opponent. " It 
is as much as to say that the left hand is better than the 
right, and that night is lighter than day." No claim is 
allowed to be based on the fact that the Sultans of the day 
kept their chief court in Africa. "We too," says Ash- 
shakandi, " have had our Sultans," and he speaks of the 
Ommeyades as " Sultans who succeeded each other as 


pearls in a necklace united by the thread." The break-up 
of their empire was as the cutting of the string. As the 
Ommeyades are the objects of his panegyric, so the 
Africans are of his disdain. Yusuf Tachefin, the founder 
of the Almoravides, owed his fame, he says, wholly to 
Al Mutammed, King of Seville. "Otherwise, I ask you, 
would he have been known, ignorant and rude Bedowi as 
he was ? " Among the limitations of Yusuf it is recounted 
that on various occasions he jeered at the poets and their 
fine metaphors, declaring that he understood nothing of 
their writings except that the writers wanted bread 1 
But Ash-shakandi proceeds: "Since Africa dares to dis- 
pute the superiority in the sciences, can you produce such 
men as these .-* " He then gives a list of scholars eminent 
in the ranks of science, philosophy, and literature, which is 
now valuable for the service it renders in rescuing the 
names of great men from oblivion and preserving a record 
of their works. This list contains geometers, philosophers, 
theologians, historians, men distinguished in philology, 
literature, geography, medicine, and all the natural sciences, 
also grammarians, musicians, poets, and orators. Ash- 
shakandi also distinguishes the scholar kings of the lesser 
courts of Spain, men who could still devote their minds 
with ardour to the study of science in the midst of all the 
tumult of civil war. 

He proceeds to the description of Spain itself, its 
principal towns and monuments. Much that was said of 
Cordova in a previous chapter was taken from this epistle. 
Though himself a native of Cordova, he says of Seville, 
where the later court of the Almoravides and Almohades 
was fixed, that it was one of the finest cities of Spain, and 
praises at great length its magnificent buildings, — especially 
the famous mosque — its good streets, its spacious dwelling- 
houses, — of which the courtyards were planted with orange, 
citron, lemon, and other fruit-trees — and its generally 
excellent arrangements. The river at Seville was navig- 
able for large vessels, and was always filled with pleasure 
boats kept by the inhabitants of the town, "who were 


very luxurious and dissipated." It was held to be a 
delightful boating river. The environs of Seville were 
very picturesque — olives, figs, and sugar-cane abounded, 
and the banks of the river were covered with fruit-trees 
"formino a sort of canopy, so that it was possible to sail 
sheltered from the rays of the sun, and listening to the 
melody of singing-birds along the banks." The river ran 
for a course of thirty miles through clusters of buildings 
and farmhouses, high towers and strong castles, forming 
a continued city. The mildness of the temperature, the 
purity of the air, the abundance of provisions and com- 
modities which were to be found in its markets, made it an 
agreeable place of residence. There was a saying, common 
in Andalusia, " If thou seekest for bird's milk, by Allah ! 
thou shall find it in Seville." The love of music of its 
inhabitants has been already mentioned. They were, 
Ash-shakandi says, "the merriest people upon earth, 
always singing, playing on instruments, and drinking wine, 
which among them is not considered forbidden so long as 
it is used with moderation." Amongst its many manu- 
factures Seville was as famous for oil as Malaga was for 
wine. Beja, a town in its territory, was famous for its 
cotton manufactures. 

Other Spanish towns — Granada with its magnificent 
chestnut trees, Toledo, Valencia rich in trade and noted 
for the paper manufactories of Xatina in its neighbourhood ; 
Jaen, so famous for its silk manufactures that it was called 
"Jaen of the Silk" ; Murcia, Xeres, Malaga, Lisbon, each 
famous for their special products ; Saragossa, afterwards 
the seat of Empire of the Huddites, in which there was a 
wonderful palace with a golden hall of extraordinary beauty 
of design and workmanship, and many more, are described 
by Ash-shakandi in detail enough to present a vivid picture 
of the wealth, importance, and refinement of civilisation 
which distinguished the Spain of the thirteenth century. 
If his opponents in the literary contest had anything like 
the same account to give of the African half of the Arab 
Empire, the condition of this portion of the Western world 


under the African dynasties which administered it for 
nearly two hundred years, must have been extraordinarily 

We may add to Ash-shakandi's account a statement of 
Ibn Said, made also in the thirteenth century, that in his 
day Andalusia was " so thickly populated that if a traveller 
goes any distance through it he will find at every step on 
his road hamlets, farms, towns, orchards, and cultivated 
fields, and will never meet, as is more or less the case in 
other cultivated countries, with large tracts of uncultivated 
land or desert. This, united to the habit of the Andalusians, 
who, instead of living together as the Egyptians do, 
grouped in towns and villages, prefer dwelling in cottages 
and rural establishments in the midst of the fields, by the 
side of brooks, and on the declivities of mountains, gives 
altogether to the country an aspect of comfort and pros- 
perity for which the traveller will look in vain elsewhere. 
Their houses, too, which they are continually white-washing 
inside and out, look exceedingly well by the side of the 
green trees." 

This picture of country life speaks much for the general 
order and security which prevailed, and indicates that the 
measures taken by Almoravide and Almohade sovereigns 
to mamtain a general respect for law had been successful. 
During the disorders preceding the Almoravide conquest 
brigandage had become rife, and a quaint story is told of 
a certain brigand, Greyhawk by name, who was brought 
before Al Mutammed, King of Seville. This Greyhawk, 
having committed atrocious crimes, was condemned to be 
crucified, and while he hung on the cross watched by his 
devoted wife and daughter, he managed still to beguile an 
unwary traveller into leaving his laden mule to search for 
treasure in a well, upon which Greyhawk instructed his 
wife to make off with the mule and its burden. The 
traveller meanwhile died in the well, and Greyhawk was 
taken down from the cross and brought again before the 
King. "Tell me, O Greyhawk," said the King, "how 
couldst thou be guilty of such a crime as that now imputed 


to thee, being as it were under the very clutch of death ? " 
" O King," rephed the robber, " if thou knewest how 
strongly nature impels me to the perpetration of such acts, 
and how great is the pleasure I enjoy while I commit 
them, I have no doubt but that thou wouldest relinquish 
the royal power and embrace my profession." 

That story and the state of affairs which it illustrates 
belong, however, to another period. The reign of the 
Almohade el Mansur, which lasted till 12 14, marks the 
greatest period of Almohade prosperity. It was during 
this reign, in the year 1195, that the three Christian kings 
of Arragon, Castile, and Leon were overthrown in the 
celebrated battle of Alarcos, at which it was said that the 
loss of the Christians amounted to 146,000 men, besides 
30,000 prisoners and an incredible amount of spoil. It 
would seem to be after this battle, though it is variously 
related and placed by some historians in the reign of one 
of the Almoravide sovereigns, that the Christian population 
of Granada, accused of intriguing with the governments 
of Christian Spain, was transported by the Moors in a 
body to Africa and settled by thousands in Mequinez, 
Sallee, and other towns of the western coast. An Arab 
historian who visited Sallee in the year 1360 says that at 
that time the town of Rabat, not far distant, was almost 
wholly inhabited by families from Granada. 

Thus began in the twelfth century, after a long period 
of African domination in Spain, a reaction of Europe 
upon Africa which has continued to the present day. 
This expulsion of the Christians from Granada may be 
taken as the first of the great religious expulsions for 
which Spain became famous in later years. It is just 
to remember that the system was initiated by the Moors, 
and it is perhaps worth noting that the celebrated Aver- 
rhoes, one of the most famous among the many names 
associated with the enlightenment which Arab civilisation 
spread through the dark ages of medieval Europe, was 
so warm an advocate of the measure, that he took the 
trouble to cross from the Spanish Court to the Court of 


Morocco for the purpose of urging his views upon the 
Sultan. He appears to have spent a considerable part 
of his life at the court of Morocco, which was at that 
time a centre of learning. He died there in 1198, and, 
in recording his death, Morocco is mentioned as "the 
capital " of Adouatein. The mere existence of this 
geographical expression, used, as has been said, by the 
Arabs to signify the two kingdoms of Spain and Africa, 
shows how very closely the interests of the two countries 
had become bound together. In connection with the 
residence of the learned Averrhoes at the court of El 
Mansur in Africa, it may be worth mentioning that the 
praises of the same sovereign were sung in his court at 
Seville by the " learned and celebrated poet, a black of 
Soudan, Abu Ishak Ibrahim al Kanemi." The circum- 
stance, though slight, is interesting, as serving to show 
that at the end of the twelfth century Negroland con- 
tributed, not only its commercial wares, but also its quota 
of art to the stores of Europe. 

From the beginning of the thirteenth century onward, 
the decay of the Mussulman power in Spain is marked. 
The Christian Powers made constant and successful on- 
slaughts upon the Almohade possessions. Town after 
town of importance fell into their hands. They were 
assisted by internal divisions among the Mussulmans ; 
and in 1230, after nearly a century of brilliant rule, the 
Almohade dynasty was brought to an end by the deposi- 
tion of the reigning sovereign. The Moslem portion of 
the continent declared itself independent under Ibn Hud, 
also a leader of African origin. Valencia fell into Chris- 
tian hands, 1238; Cordova, 1239; Seville, 1260. A little 
later the whole of the Moslem population was driven to 
the coast between Ronda, iu the west, and Almeria, in the 
east. In Africa the province of Ifrikiah, which stretched 
at one period from the confines of Egypt to those of 
Morocco, at the same time declared itself independent 
under a Sultan of the Hafside dynasty. In 1269 the 
Merinites possessed themselves of the throne of Morocco 



and its surrounding provinces, and fixed their capital at 
Fez. When nothing was left to the Almohades but 
Tafilet and a small part of Ifrikiah, they returned to their 
stronghold of Tinmelel, to maintain for a few years only 
a " phantom Caliph," Ishak, last of his race, who, when 
the successful siege of Tafilet in 1274 had given all that 
remained of Moroccan soil to the Merinites, was brought 
before the ruling sovereign of that dynasty and executed. 
It is interesting to note that at this siege of Tafilet, which 
put an end to even such empty pretence as still remained 
of the Dual Empire of Spain and Africa, mention is made 
of the use of firearms, or "fire-engines," which threw out 
iron gravel. The shot, it is said, was forced from the 
piece by means of a burning powder, "of which the sin- 
gular properties work effects that rival the power of the 


Thus, before the end of the thirteenth century, the dual 
Mohammedan Empire of "Adouatein," or "The Two 
Shores," had ceased to exist, and in its place there 
had grown up three distinct Moslem powers. In Spain 
the Huddites, who afterwards fell under the Hafside 
leadership of the celebrated Ibn Ahmar, the builder of 
the Alhambra, formed a Moslem kingdom within the 
restricted limits still left to them, scarcely extending be- 
yond the province of Granada. Upon the northern coast 
of Africa, in the ancient province of Africa Propria, or 
Ifrikiah, embracing Tunis and Tripoli, and henceforward 
generally known as Barbary, an independent Hafside 
dynasty was established, of which the subsequent history 
is one long succession of war. In Morocco the dynasty 
of the Merinites, ever at war with the Hafsides of the 
coast, was to hold its own until, at the beginning of the 
sixteenth century, it was overthrown by the Sherifs, whose 
descendants now reign in Morocco. Almost simultane- 
ously with this break-up of the Caliphate of the West, the 
Caliphate of the East was overthrown by the Tartars 
in 1258. 

Notwithstanding the ceaseless wars to which all these 
dynasties were exposed, the Courts of Tunis, Fez, and 
Granada maintained a high reputation for learning, re- 
finement, and civilisation. The most brilliant period of 
Arab domination had come to an end, but the Arabs 
continued for two hundred years to represent the highest 
standard of knowledge and enlightenment which existed 

in modern Europe. Their universities were the founts 



of learning to which Christian ignorance went for its 
early education. Their courts were homes envied openly 
by the most distinguished of European kings. Among 
the celebrated pupils of Arab teachers, Roger Bacon, 
Peter the Venerable, Pope Sylvester II., are illustrious 
names which occur at once to the memory, and up to 
the end of the fifteenth century there was scarcely a man 
of eminence or learning in the schools of England, France, 
or Italy, whose biography, when it has been preserved, 
does not acknowledge the debt which he owed directly 
or indirectly to Arab learning. Arabian knowledge of 
the physical conditions of the Universe remained far in 
advance of anything known to Europe until near the 
end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth 
centuries. The entire medical faculty of the Continent 
was trained in Arab schools. That they maintained this 
high place in the front rank of science through all the 
decadence of their later history, is sufficiently illustrated 
by the fact that when, at the moment of the final ex- 
pulsion of the Moors from Spain, the Catholic Cardinal 
Ximenes ordered the destruction of the libraries of 
Granada, he reserved from the general condemnation 
three hundred medical works, to which Europe recognised 
its obligation. 

There is no department of our daily life upon which 
the Arabs have not left their mark. Not only our 
learning, our laws, our justice, our naval and military 
science, our agriculture, our commerce, our manufacturing 
industries, have been profoundly impressed by Arab 
influence maintained in Europe for upwards of 800 years, 
but our daily customs, our domestic life, have been no 
less intimately touched. It is from the Arabs of Spain 
that we have learned to wash, to dress, to cook, to garden. 
They improved our musical instruments ; they gave us 
new poetic metres ; they gave us the imaginative pleasures 
of narrative fiction. From them France and Italy 
borrowed the lighter play of wit and repartee, which has 
since radiated through the northern races. From them 


modern Europe learned to associate with the emotions 
of love the grace and joy of cultivated life. It was from 
their hands that the growing life of the young nations 
of the West received its happiest direction. We have 
but to turn to the vocabularies of Europe and to trace 
in them the many important words of Arabic origin in 
order to appreciate to some extent the debt of which we 
have lost sight. 

I have no intention of entering into the history of 
Spain during the centuries which led to the conquest of 
Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and the final expulsion 
of the Arabs from Europe in 1502. My purpose in briefly 
relating the outlines of the Arab-African conquest of Spain 
has been merely to indicate the nature of the national life 
to which Negroland owed the impulse of its medieval 
civilisation. If the impression made by Arab- African 
civilisation upon Europe has been indelible, it is only 
natural that the same impression should have been strong 
upon the nations which were brought in contact with it 
— even though in some instances they were of a wholly 
different race — in the continent from which it sprang. 

Here is a picture quoted by Ibn Said, the "truthful 
historian," to whom allusion has been already made, from 
a previous writer, the truth of whose words he endorses, 
of the immediate effect upon Africa of the downfall of 
the Almohade dynasty in Spain. Ibn Said was born in 
Granada in 12 14; he died in Tunis in 1287, and was 
therefore a personal witness of the condition of things 
which he describes. 

"Africa," he quotes, "may be said to have derived its 
present wealth and importance, and its extent of commerce, 
from Andalusians settling in it. For when God Almighty 
was pleased to send down on their country the last 
disastrous civil war, thousands of its inhabitants, of all 
classes and professions, sought a refuge in Africa and 
spread over Maghreb el Aksa (Morocco), and Africa 
Propria (Barbary), settling wherever they found comfort 
or employment. Labourers and country people took to 


the same occupations which they had left in Andalusia. 
They formed intimacies with the inhabitants, discovered 
springs, made them available for the irrigation of their 
fields, planted trees, introduced water-mills, and other 
useful inventions. In short, they taught the African 
farmers many things whereof they had never heard, and 
showed them the use of excellent practices whereof they 
were completely ignorant. Through their means the 
countries where they fixed their residence became at once 
prosperous and rich, and the inhabitants saw their wealth 
increase rapidly, as well as their comfort and enjoyments. 
. . There was no district in Africa wherein some of the 
principal authorities were not Andalusians. . . . But it 
was in the class of operatives and workmen in all sorts 
of handicrafts that Africa derived the most advantage 
from the tides of emigration setting towards its shores." 

Ibn Ghalib, from whom the quotation is made, wrote 
at an earlier period than Ibn Said. After making the 
quotation, Ibn Said continues: "Perhaps some of my 
readers, in perusing the accounts I have just given in the 
words of Ibn Ghalib of the revolution created by the 
Andalusian emigration in the trade and agriculture of 
Africa, will say to themselves : ' This author was un- 
doubtedly partial towards his countrymen, and he exag- 
gerated their merits ' ; but let them plunge into his book, 
let them weigh every one of his expressions, and com- 
pare his narrative with those of other writers, and they 
will soon feel convinced that he spoke the truth." 

Of these same Andalusians the author, Ibn Ghalib, 
who is quoted, says, at an earlier period : " They are 
Arabs by descent, in pride, in the haughtiness of their 
temper, the devotion of their minds, the goodness of their 
hearts, and the purity of their intentions. They resemble 
them in their abhorrence of everything that is cruel 
or oppressive, in their inability to endure subjection or 
contempt, and in the liberal expenditure of whatever they 
possess. They are Indians in their love of learning, as 
well as in their assiduous cultivation of science, their firm 


adherence to its principles, and the scrupulous attention 
with which they transmit to their posterity its invaluable 
secrets. They are like the people of Baghdad in cleanli- 
ness of person and beauty of form, in elegance of manners, 
mildness of disposition, subtlety of mind, power of thought, 
extent of memory, and universality of talent. They are 
Turks in their aptitude for war, their deep acquaintance 
with every one of its stratagems, and their skilful pre- 
paration of the weapons and machines used in it, as 
well as their extreme care and foresight in all matters 
concerning it. They have been further compared with 
the Chinese for the delicacy of their work, the subtlety 
of their manufactures, and their dexterity in imitating all 
sorts of figures. And, lastly, it is generally asserted that 
they are of all nations that which most resembles the 
Greeks in their knowledge of the physical and natural 
sciences, their ability in discovering waters hidden in the 
bowels of the earth and bringing them to the surface ; 
their acquaintance with the various species of trees and 
plants and their several fruits, their industry in the pruning 
and grafting of trees, the arrangement and distribution 
of gardens, the treatment of plants and flowers, and all 
and every one of the branches of agriculture. Upon this 
last subject their proficiency is proverbial. The Anda- 
lusians, moreover, are the most patient of men and the 
fittest to endure fatigue." 

Such was the estimate made by contemporary writers 
of the people whom civil war and religious intolerance 
drove from the cities of southern Spain, to spread through 
the northern part of Africa and to found new homes upon 
its shores. But to these descriptions it may be well, in 
this place, to add another, made a hundred years later, 
by a very competent historian, who, looking from a dis- 
tance at the events which had taken place, was perhaps 
able to form a truer opinion of the causes of the national 
downfall. Ibn Khaldun, who was born at Tunis in 1332, 
and died in Egypt in 1406, and whose " History of the 
Berbers" is held to contain the most authentic information 


of the internal history of North Africa, thus summarises, 
on his opening page, the fate of the Arab nation to which 
he belonged : " Raised to the height of power in Asia 
Minor under the dynasty of the Ommeyades, formidable still 
under that of the Abbassides, attaining the highest fortune 
in Spain under the second dynasty of the Ommeyades, 
the Arabs found themselves in possession of such glory 
and prosperity as had never been the lot of another people. 
Surrounded by luxury and devoted to pleasure, they 
yielded to the seductions of idleness, and, tasting the 
delights of life, they fell into a long sleep under the 
shadow of glory and of peace. Then the soldier was 
no longer to be distinguished from the artisan, except by 
his ineptitude for work ; their hardy habits were gone, 
and they were overthrown, not in the first instance by 
strangers, but by their own Caliphs. They were enslaved, 
then broken and dispersed." 

Allowing for the somewhat over-flowery rhetoric of 
Arabian writers, the facts would seem to justify both sides 
of this description. The later decadence of the Arabs, 
when, after the final expulsion of 1502, they entirely lost 
touch with the progressive life of Europe, can only be 
accounted for on the assumption that they had, as Ibn 
Khaldun perceived, lost their early vitality, and that they 
carried with them into Africa the elements of their own 
decay. They were overthrown, not, in the first instance, 
by strangers, but by themselves. 

Yet, without a doubt, their influence upon Africa, 
when the civil wars first drove them out of Spain, was 
that described by Ibn Said. 


From the break-up of the Arab Empire of " The Two 
Shores" in the middle of the thirteenth century to the 
moment of the final severance of North Africa from 
Europe in the sixteenth century, the growth and spread 
of civilisation in the independent kingdoms of North 
Africa was very marked. Throughout the dark period 
of the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church was assert- 
ing its claim to dominate the conscience of the Western 
World, and to direct not only the action but the thought 
of Christendom, all that was independent, all that was 
progressive, all that was persecuted for conscience' sake, 
took refuge in the courts of Africa. Art, science, poetry, 
and wit found congenial homes in the orange-shaded 
arcades of the colleges of Fez, in the palaces of Morocco, 
and in the exquisite gardens of Tripoli and Tunis. 

The charm of life which had been so sedulously culti- 
vated in the Mohammedan towns of Spain was transported 
to the coast of Africa. The beautiful palaces of southern 
Spain were reconstructed upon African soil. The gardens 
of El-Mostancer, a Hafside sovereign of Tunis who 
reigned from 1252 to 1277, rivalled those of the Omme- 
yades in Cordova. After describing the beauties of the 
gardens, Ibn Khaldun says of the court of this monarch, 
that it was always filled with distinguished persons. 
"Here," he says, "were to be seen numbers of Anda- 
lusians, amongst them distinguished poets and other elo- 
quent writers, illustrious men of science, magnanimous 
princes, intrepid warriors." Here, too, we may note, in 
the year 1237, amidst all the brilliancy of such surround- 


ings, a deputation from the king of the black countries 
of Bornu and Kanem, who sent amongst other gifts a 
giraffe, which so interested and delighted the inhabitants 
of Tunis that it excited the greatest enthusiasm. 

At Fez, which now became the capital of the Merinite 
sovereigns, beautiful palaces and gardens were constructed, 
and the life of the higher nobility was conducted with 
much state. Learning also was encouraged, and it is 
interesting to observe, as the result of a "Holy War" 
successfully carried on against the Christians in Spain by 
one of the greatest of the Merinite sovereigns of Morocco, 
that among the conditions of peace imposed by the Mos- 
lem kino; was the surrender of all scientific works which 
had fallen into the hands of the Christians in the capture 
of Mussulman towns. Unfortunately only about iioo 
volumes had been saved. These were afterwards con- 
veyed to the University of Fez. 

Ibn Khaldun says that literature presently declined 
at the court of Fez, owing to the too great materialism 
of the Merinite sovereigns. This was not the opinion 
of the celebrated traveller Ibn Batuta, but Ibn Khaldun 
was probably the better judge. 

Ibn Batuta, who, like Ibn Khaldun, was born in North 
Africa of Arab parents, though about thirty years earlier 
(1303), distinguished himself by spending five-and-twenty 
years in travel, which extended over the greater part of the 
known world, and included Europe, India, China, and 
Thibet. He entered the "white town of Fez" on the 8th 
of November 1349, and decided there to lay aside his 
pilgrim's staff, because, for reasons which he sets forth at 
length, his judgment was convinced that the noble country 
over which its sovereign ruled was the best country and 
the best administered of all those that he had visited. 
Here he found the conditions of life better than in any other 
country. Food was more plentiful, varied, and cheap ; life 
and property were more secure, law was milder, justice was 
more assured, charity more fully organised, religion more 
truly maintained, and literature, science, and art more 


honoured than in any other centre of civilisation. He 
mentions, in regard to the organised charities of the 
country, that free hospitals were constructed and endowed 
in every town of the kingdom. As regards the endowment 
of science and literature, he describes the great College of 
Fez as having " no parallel in the known world for size, 
beauty, and magnificence." He speaks of the deep interest 
taken by the sovereign in all that related to science and 
literature, the very considerable literary achievements of 
the sovereign himself, and of the generous protection which 
he gave to all persons who were devoted to the study of 
science. Here also, before the date of Ibn Batuta's visit, 
we are brought into touch in the year 1338 with the 
political life of the Negro kingdom of Melle. Mansa Musa, 
a black sovereign, of whom we shall presently hear more, 
and the seat of whose empire was in the territory now 
known as the Bend of the Niger, sent an embassy on the 
occasion of the conquest of Telem^an by the Merinites to 
congratulate the Merinite sovereign, who was his nearest 
white neighbour. His embassy was accompanied by an 
interpreter from Masina in the Upper Niger, where the 
Fulanis had then a principal seat of occupation. Abou el 
Ha^en — the king so warmly praised a few years later by 
Ibn Batuta — received them very cordially, and sent back 
by their hands a very handsome present to Mansa Musa. 

In the lists which are given of the presents exchanged 
between monarchs on state occasions, interesting glimpses 
of the condition of the nations concerned may be obtained. 
The present made by Abou el Hagen to Mansa Musa is 
not described, but here is the description of a present sent 
by him to the reigning Sultan of Egypt on the same 
occasion of the taking of Telem^an from the Hafsides 
in 1337. 

First on the list is placed a copy of the Koran written 
by the monarch's own hand, and most beautifully bound at 
Fez. The binding, which is described in great detail, was 
made of ebony, ivory, and sandalwood, " inlaid with admir- 
able art," and decorated with fillets of gold and pearls and 


rubies. There was also an outside leather case, which was 
solidly worked and decorated with fillets of gold. Next 
after the book there came upon the list five hundred 
thorouorhbred horses, of which the saddles were em- 
broidered in gold and silver, and of which the bridles and 
bits were some of them of pure gold and some of them 
plated. Also there were five hundred loads of objects 
made in Morocco — or Maghreb, as the portion of Africa 
now known to us as Morocco was then called. There 
were arms, and beautiful woollen stuffs ; cloaks, robes, 
burnooses ; turbans, striped and plain stuffs of silk and 
wool ; silks plain and in colours, embroidered and brocaded 
with gold. Also shields brought from the countries of 
the desert, made of the skin of the lamt, and " covered 
with that famous varnish which renders them so hard." 
Also many pieces of furniture " which is made in Maghreb 
and much sought after in the East." 

A country which can count all these objects amongst 
its manufactures is evidently in a very fairly high condition 
of industrial prosperity. A monarch who can transcribe a 
copy of the Koran in his own hand in such a manner as to 
render it worthy of being placed in so precious a binding 
at the head of a present of this value must evidently have 
at least some appreciation of the charms of literature. It 
is said of Abou el Ha9en that he performed the feat of 
transcribing the Koran with his own hand three times. 

After this conquest of Telemcan intercourse between 
Morocco and Negroland appears to have increased, which 
is not unnatural, as already a very considerable trade 
existed between Telem9an, which was one of the principal 
ports of embarkation for Spain, and the countries of the 
Negro belt. The king of Melle was at that time the 
greatest of the black sovereigns, and Abou el Ha^en, 
desiring to cultivate pleasant relations with him, sent him 
an embassy with handsome presents, a compliment which 
in 1360 the reigning king of Melle returned to Abou el 
Haven's successor. Unfortunately the details of this 
present are not recorded. It is only stated that Mansa 


Suleiman of Melle, " wishing to return the good treatment 
of the Merinite sovereign, collected various products of 
his country, all extremely rare and curious, and sent them 
to Fez." He also added to his presents a giraffe, which 
gave great pleasure to the Court of Fez. The embassy 
was received with the greatest possible honour at Fez, the 
place being thronged and people standing on each other's 
shoulders in the crowd to see — while the Sultan, seated in 
his golden kiosk, received and returned the assurances of 
friendship sent to him by the black king. 

An incident of the developed intercourse between 
Morocco and Negroland which is of more interest to 
posterity than the exchange of presents between their 
respective sovereigns, was the decision arrived at by Ibn 
Batuta to take up again his pilgrim's staff, and quitting 
the lettered luxury of Fez, to add another chapter to his 
travels by journeying through Negroland. He accordingly 
crossed the frontier of Morocco on his southward journey 
on February 18, 1352, and spent upwards of eighteen 
months in a journey through the principal countries of the 
Nigerian watershed, re-entering the kingdom of Morocco 
in December of 1353. The record of this journey, which 
he has added to the four volumes of his travels, is especially 
interesting, as giving a picture of the Negroland of that 
day written from personal observation. The earlier Arab 
writers, from whom our information is principally drawn, 
were not themselves personally acquainted with the 
countries of which they write. They described them 
generally from the hearsay of travellers and traders, and 
though this has its value as representing the volume of 
common knowledge which existed concerning Negroland, 
other descriptions lack the vividness which Ibn Batuta 
gives to his. 



We come now to the history of Negroland itself, which 
began to be known in its relatively modern development 
from about the period of the Arab conquest of Africa 
and Spain. The sources of information regarding it are 
mainly Arab, and the earliest records which have been 
preserved carry us only vaguely back beyond the seventh 
century of the Christian era. The records which exist 
make it clear that the Empire of the Two Shores estab- 
lished by the Arabs in North Africa and Spain was the 
commercial field of Negroland. This was also the case 
with the territories included in the dominion of the 
Eastern Caliphate, and intercourse was frequent between 
the principal countries of Negroland and the towns of 
North Africa, Spain, Egypt, Syria, and Arabia. Negro- 
land was therefore in closer touch than many of the 
countries of Northern Europe with the highest civilisa- 
tion of the period, and the effect of this closer relation 
is of course traceable in its history. Throughout the 
whole period it would seem that the ancient tradition of 
civilisation, which had come to it from the East, so far 
prevailed that the kingdoms of Negroland were disposed 
to acknowledge the political supremacy of the Eastern, 
rather than of the Western Caliphate. More than once 
in later times there are instances of their sovereigns 
accepting investiture from the Sultan of Egypt, even 
after the overthrow of the Caliphate by the Turks. But 
their intellectual and commercial intercourse would appear 
to have been more active with the West than with the 

East ; and in tracing the course of civilisation in their 



kingdoms from the seventh to the seventeenth century, 
at which latter period the whole underwent a chaotic 
change, it is to be observed that the tide of progress 
spreads steadily from the West eastward, not from the 
East westward. In saying this I allude especially to 
those countries to the west of Lake Chad, which, taken 
collectively, may be said to form the Western Soudan. 
There is one other general observation which it is, I 
think, interesting to make with regard to the civilising 
influence exercised by the Empire of the Two Shores 
upon Negroland. It is that between the seventh and 
the seventeenth centuries, though there were many local 
wars and conquests of black kingdoms by Berbers and 
Berber kingdoms by blacks, there was never any military 
conquest made or attempted by Spanish Arabs of the 
black countries with which they traded. At the begin- 
ning of the seventeenth century, when the Spanish Arabs 
had themselves been expelled from Europe, this policy 
was reversed with disastrous results, and the conquest 
of the country by the decadent Moors put an end to the 
prosperity of Negroland. 

In order to follow with any interest the historic de- 
velopment of this little known portion of the world, it is 
well to glance at a map of Africa and note the more 
salient physical features which have to some extent de- 
termined here, as they determine elsewhere, the political 
distribution of the country. It has already been men- 
tioned that the latitude of 17° N. may be taken as the 
edge of the summer rains, and that between 10° and 17° 
all the finest races of this part of Africa are to be found. 
This is M. de Lauture's limit of distribution. Later 
experience would lead us perhaps to draw the southern 
line a little lower. Probably the parallel of 9° would be 
found more accurate. If two blue pencil lines be drawn 
upon these parallels on a map of north-west Africa, it will 
be seen that they include within their limits the whole 
course of the Senegal from its rise in the mountains 
north of Sierra Leone to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean, 


and the course of the Upper and Middle Niger from its 
rise in the same mountains to its most northerly bend, 
almost on the parallel of 17°, and its descent in a south- 
easterly direction to that fall in its bed which has been 
rendered famous by Mungo Park's death in the rapids 
which are caused by it near Boussa. The same limits 
include Lake Chad and all the tributaries which drain 
to it from the highlands of the Haussa States. It will 
be observed that towards the northern portion of this 
territory the country has a general tendency to open into 
level plains ; while towards the southern portion hilly 
regions, drawing together, form a natural dividing-line 
from the countries of the coast. It will also be observed 
that the line drawn upon the parallel of 9° excludes from the 
area occupied by the fine races every one of those territories 
hitherto occupied by the nations of modern Europe in 
the maritime settlements made upon the southern portion 
of the coast, except the French settlement of the Senegal. 

It becomes apparent, in looking broadly at the lines 
thus traced upon the map, that the country which lies 
between them is cut by its main watercourses into four 
principal divisions. There is the territory lying south- 
west of the Senegal, between the course of that river 
and the sea ; there is the country lying north-east of the 
Senegal, between that river and the Niger to the point 
where the Niger presses upon the desert at Timbuctoo ; 
there is the country lying south of the Niger enclosed 
in the bend of the river, and generally known now by 
the geographical expression — the Bend of the Niger ; and 
there is the country stretching from the eastern bank of 
the Niger to Lake Chad. Allowing something for the 
always too arbitrary nature of geographical boundaries, 
it will be found that the history of Negroland tends also 
to group itself within these four divisions. 

The very earliest records which we have in point of 
date, exclusive of the tradition of ancient Egypt in the 
East, relate to the north-east of the Senegal, between that 
river and the Niger. This territory was known by a 


confusingly different number of names ; but the name of 
its principal town, and the name by which the territory 
itself was most generally known in the first days of its 
medieval prosperity, was Ghana or Ghanata. At a later 
date the territory was called Walata, and the principal 
town became Aiwalatin. 

We are told that white kings had reigned over Ghana 
before the year of the Hegira ; but when the Arabs visited 
the country in the eighth century they found it in the pos- 
session of a black monarch, to whom the Berbers or white 
people of the more northerly desert towns paid tribute. 
The town of Ghana lay towards the eastern portion of 
this district, and at one time the territory over which it 
ruled extended to the sea. 

The district to the south-west of the Senegal, between 
that river and the sea, is regarded by early writers as the 
original place of settlement of the Fulani in Africa. The 
Djolfs, who inhabited it during the Arab period, are de- 
scribed in the Tarikh-es-Soudan as "the best of men." 
" By their acts and their character," the author says, 
"they differ essentially from all the other Fulanis. God 
by a special grace has endowed them with a generous 
nature, and He inspires in them fine actions and conduct 
worthy of all praise. For valour and bravery they have 
no equal. , . . In all that we have ever heard about them, 
loyalty and fidelity to their engagements appear to be 
innate, and to have reached the highest expression in 
them." It will be noticed that this praise of the Djolfs 
is given at the implied expense of "all other Fulanis." 
There can be no doubt that from the beginning of their 
history there has been a wide variation in the endowments 
of this people. They are, however, so remarkable, and 
from our earliest knowledge of them have maintained the 
character of their own race so exclusively of the life and 
history of the other races of the Soudan, that the account 
of their progress as a ruling power from the extreme 
western corner upon the Atlantic coast, in which we first 
hear of them, to the eastern regions between the Niger 



and Lake Chad, where, at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, they established their domination over the Haussa 
states, will best be given later in a separate chapter. 

The history of Ghana and of the Empire of Melle 
which superseded it constitute the two first chapters of the 
native history of Negroland. Melle, which extended at 
one period of its history over the territory of Ghana and 
also over the Bend of the Niger, gives way in its turn to 
the extraordinarily interesting history of Songhay — an 
empire which from the middle of the fifteenth to the end 
of the sixteenth centuries extended over the entire Bend 
of the Niger, and even carried its domination for a time 
to the Atlantic on one side and to Lake Chad upon the 
other. Contemporaneously with the rise of Melle and 
Songhay, the Haussa States and Bornu rose to prosperity 
between the Niger and Lake Chad, while the native 
states of Nupe, Borgu, Mossi, and some others, appear 
to have maintained an independent existence from a 
period of considerable antiquity upon the Niger. To 
the south of these territories, during the whole period of 
which we have the record of their history, the country 
was inhabited in a continuous belt by Pagan cannibals. 

As civilisation in the medieval epoch of Negro history 
would seem to have arisen in the west, and gradually to 
have crept across towards the east, meeting, in the Bend 
of the Niger and the Haussa States, that other wave of 
civilising influence which in earlier days had inspired its 
life from the east, so it will not be surprising to find 
that decadence spreads also along the same path and 
in the same historic order. When the Arabs first 
visited Negroland by the western route in the eighth 
and ninth centuries of our era, they found the black 
kings of Ghana in the height of their prosperity. The 
countries bordering upon Lake Chad are then spoken 
of contemptuously as the " country of the idolaters." 
But the black kings of Ghana had long passed into 
oblivion when Edris, one of the greatest of the kings of 
Bornu, was making gunpowder for the muskets of his army 
t a period contemporary with Queen Elizabeth. 



It has already been mentioned that the whole of the Fez- 
zan and the south-western province of what is now Morocco 
were conquered by the Arab general, Okbar, in the middle 
of the seventh century, but that he did not penetrate at 
either end of the Western Soudan to the territories of the 
fertile belt. There was not for nearly a thousand years 
any direct military conquest of these territories by the 
Arabs. But the Berber tribes, dispossessed and driven 
southwards by the Arabs, made room for themselves at 
different periods in the fertile belt, and in doing so neces- 
sarily fought with and overthrew or were overthrown by 
the blacks. As in the case of the conquest of the British 
Isles by Saxons, Danes, and Normans, this resulted in a 
very great admixture of blood, and though the black strain 
would seem generally to have prevailed in point of colour, 
the characteristics of the races occupying the fertile belt 
were in the course of centuries so modified that in speak- 
ing of them it will perhaps be more accurate to employ 
the word " black " than the in many ways misleading term 
of " negro." 

The true negro is hardly to be found amongst these 
races of the northern inland belt — the cast of face, 
even when jet black in colour, being frequently European 
in form, with the high nose, thin lips, and deep-set eyes, 
characteristic still of the Arab of the Mediterranean coast. 
The aristocratic thin hand, and the slight, somewhat square 
shoulders of the Arab of the coast are also frequently 
noticeable. As a consequence of many invasions from the 

north this blood no doubt penetrated as far as climatic 



conditions would allow. I shall also hope to show that 
from any time of which history has note, the northern belt 
of the Soudan has been occupied by races of a higher 
than negroid type. The operation of these types upon the 
purely negroid races was to drive them southwards into 
the tropical swamps of the coast belt in which the higher 
type could not live. 

The pressure of the tribes of the desert upon Negro- 
land dates of course from a very much earlier period 
than the Arab conquest of North Africa, but it was 
renewed and accentuated by that conquest. The earliest 
Arab writer who is known to make any allusion to Arab 
dealings with Negroland in the west is Abd el Hakem, 
who died in Egypt in Syo, but he merely alludes to a 
military expedition against the Berbers in the south-west, 
undertaken about the year 720, which reached the Soudan 
and brought back as much gold as the soldiers wanted. 
The next writer in point of date whose writings have 
been preserved is Ibn Haukal, the geographer, who wrote 
about the year 930. But he confines his writings chiefly 
to "those lands which are the seat of Islam and the resi- 
dence of true believers," and though these extended in the 
tenth century from Spain to China, through Trans-Oxiana, 
Tibet, and Hindostan, the black countries of the Western 
Soudan are regarded as being still at that date outside 
the pale. " As for the Land of Blacks in West Africa," 
he says, " I make but slight mention of them, because 
naturally loving wisdom, ingenuity, religion, justice, and 
regular government, how could I notice such people as 
those or exalt them by inserting an account of their 
countries." It is evident that this haughty writer had 
but a small acquaintance with the Land of the Blacks 
which he despises, and that he knew only its northern 
edge. "The Land of the Blacks," he says, "is a very 
extensive region, but extremely dry. In the mountains of 
it are to be found all the fruits which the Mohammedan 
world produces." He tells us also that it extends to the 
ocean on the south and is bordered on the north by 


deserts which reach across Africa to Zanzibar. In his 
day the Tripoli-Fezzan route would appear to have been 
closed. " Whatsoever they get," he says, " comes to them 
from the western side, because of the difficulty of entering 
their country from any other quarter." 

This scant notice is only interesting as showing that, 
although intercourse with the Arabs had already begun by 
the western route, it was not in the middle of the tenth 
century sufficiently active to be regarded in the higher 
circles of the learned as having serious importance. 

The step from this writer to the next who has pre- 
served for us any contemporary knowledge of Negroland, 
is the more remarkable. Ibn Haukal died in 968. Just a 
hundred years later, in 1067, a book was written that gives 
us a description as vivid as the description of Ibn Haukal 
is bare. The name of the book is usually translated as 
" Roads and Realms." It treats of the whole of North 
Africa, but of Negroland in special detail, and the intimate 
knowledge which it displays serves to indicate the develop- 
ment of intercourse with the Soudan which must have 
taken place under the Ommeyades. The author, whose 
long Arabic name is usually shortened to El Bekri, was 
the son of a prince of Huelva, who, as a consequence 
of civil war in Spain, sold his principality to the 
Prince of Seville in or about the year 1051. He then 
went as a rich man to live at Cordova, taking with 
him his son, the famous El Bekri. The exact date of 
El Bekri's birth is doubtful, but the best authorities put 
it at 1028. It was the moment of the break-up of the 
Ommeyade power in Spain, when petty courts were estab- 
lishing themselves in the principal towns. On the northern 
frontier of Mohammedan Spain the Christians, gaining 
daily strength, were before the end of the century to be 
led to victory by the immortal Cid, while in the far south 
of Western Africa that army of the Al Moravides was 
drawing together upon the banks of the Senegal, which 
was first to bring regeneration to unconscious Spain. 

In the meantime the life of the pleasant courts, which 


the weakness of the declining power of the Ommeyades 
had permitted to erect themselves into independence, was 
gay, cultivated, splendid, and refined. El Bekri knew 
them all. After his father's death in 1066 he went to 
that of Almeria, then one of the first cities in importance 
of Southern Spain. It is claimed by some Arab writers 
that the commercial greatness of the Italian republics had 
its foundation in trade with Almeria, and through Almeria 
with the East. In Almeria El Bekri was the favoured 
guest of El Mutassim, the reigning prince. From Almeria 
he afterwards went to take up his residence at Seville, 
the home of art and science, where also he was honoured 
of the great. He loved the good things of life ; he enjoyed 
the society of the learned, and, eminent among all that 
was most eminent of his day, he was remarkable for his 
own great attainments and intellectual industry. He died 
in 1094. It is not recorded of him that he ever left 
Spain. It is true that his geographical works can there- 
fore only be regarded as compilations, but this renders 
them for our purpose in one sense the more important, 
as serving to show how much was known at that time 
of West Africa in the cultivated circles of the courts of 

It is evident from El Bekri's account that the trade 
of the Soudan with Spain and the countries of the Medi- 
terranean coast had for a long time been important enough 
to attract attention and interest. He notes the two prin- 
cipal caravan roads into the western and eastern end of 
the Soudan, but describes the western road by Morocco 
and Tafilet as being that in most frequent use. Kanem, 
lying at the eastern end of the Western Soudan, is to him 
a "country of idolaters very difficult to reach," while the 
country to the south of Morocco is evidently as well 
known as the provinces of Spain. 

Tafilet — known to the Arabs and always spoken of 
under the name of Sidjilmessa, the last town at which 
the road to the Soudan left the fertile territories of 
Morocco — was, according to El Bekri, founded in the 


year 757 of our era. He describes it as being situated 
at the junction of several streams, in a plain of which the 
soil was impregnated with salt and was extraordinarily 
fertile. Among their crops the people grew " Chinese 
wheat." The town was large, containing some very 
splendid buildings, and was surrounded by extensive 
suburbs and gardens. Grapes, dates, and all kinds of 
fruits were very plentiful, and amongst other industries 
the town was celebrated for drying raisins. There was 
a gold currency, and it was regarded as a peculiarity that 
gold pieces at Sidjilmessa were received by count and 
not by weight. 

The founder and first governor of this town was black. 
It seems contrary to modern ideas that white people 
should under any circumstances consent to be ruled by 
blacks, but it will be seen that in the history of the 
Western Soudan this objection was not universally felt. 
Instances are common, especially in the western portions 
of the territory of the Soudan, of Berbers paying tribute 
to black sovereigns. The Fulani, who counted them- 
selves a white race, were constantly subject to black 
rulers, and it is related of the black women of one of 
the kingdoms of the Soudan, that when their monarch 
was overthrown by a contemporary Berber king, they, 
" too proud to allow themselves to fall into the hands of 
white men," preferred to commit suicide. 

Sidjilmessa was already Mohammedan in El Bekri's 
time. It was the meeting-place of many roads : those 
leading from Wargelan and other places in the Barbary 
States which were marts of the trade of the Soudan, and 
also from Morocco, Telem9an, and the coast. For all 
these roads it formed the most westerly entrance to the 

From Sidjilmessa to Ghana in the Land of Blacks 
there was a march of nearly two months to be made 
across a practically uninhabited desert. Throughout this 
vast region only nomad tribes were in El Bekri's day to 
be met with, having, he says, no town for their head- 


quarters, with the exception of the Wadi Dra, at five 
days' distance from Sidjilmessa, which was the meeting- 
point of the Masmouda Berbers, a fraction of the Senajah 
tribe. For the accurate geography of this road the reader 
who is interested should refer to Cooley's " Negroland of 
the Arabs," in which he will find a learned and most care- 
ful examination of the ancient geography of the country. 
From the conclusions drawn by Cooley it would seem 
quite clear that the road described by El Bekri coincides 
almost exactly with that shown in modern maps as con- 
necting El Harib on the south-western frontier of Morocco 
with Timbuctoo, via Mabruk, which encampment Cooley 
identifies with the Audoghast of the Arabs. The only 
difference would appear to have been that the meeting- 
point of Tamedelt mentioned by El Bekri as being eleven 
days west of Sidjilmessa, was slightly to the west of El 
Harib. Cooley fixes it at lat. 28° 45' N., long. 7° 10' W. 
Dr. Barth disagrees with Cooley, and would place Audo- 
ghast somewhat to the west of Mabruk. 

To reach Negroland by the western route there were, 
however, two possible variants of the road, both of which 
have been so accurately described by El Bekri, and after 
him by Ibn Batuta and other travellers, as to leave little 
room for doubt as to their direction ; one led via Audo- 
ghast, the other, as pursued by Ibn Batuta at a later 
date, ran more directly south via Tegazza to Aiwalatin or 
Walata. Both would appear to have been equally well 
known and equally used from the earliest times. Both 
required a journey of about two months from Sidjilmessa ; 
but the one skirted the western and the other the eastern 
border of the desert of Tizer or Ayawad. Both traversed 
the desert, using as guides the nomad Berbers of the 
locality. Ibn Batuta describes the portion of it just north 
of Aiwalatin as " a vast plain, beautiful and bright, of 
which the air is so invigorating that the spirits rise and 
the lungs dilate." It is, however, quite waterless for 
many days, and in order to reach Aiwalatin the custom 
was to send a practised guide seven days ahead to give 


warning of the approach of a caravan, which messengers 
from the town were then sent to meet, carrying water 
into the desert for a four days' march. Without this 
precaution caravans frequently perished of thirst. Like 
all great plains in which the mirage is common, this desert 
had the reputation of being haunted by demons. On the 
more westerly route, at a distance of twenty days from 
Sidjilmessa, lay the great salt-mine of Tegazza, which is 
described in detail by every writer. 



These two roads, forming together the great western 
caravan route to the Soudan, led each to a separate 
and typical objective. The stopping-place of the easterly 
branch was Audoghast ; the stopping-place of the more 
westerly branch was Aiwalatin. Audoghast was about 
fifteen days north of the present position of Timbuctoo. 
It lay, therefore, between 21° and 22° N. lat., and 
whether Cooley or Barth is right as to its exact position, 
it was well outside the belt of the Soudan proper, while 
Aiwalatin, or Walata, between the seventeenth and 
eighteenth parallels, lay on the edge of the summer rains, 
and was the frontier town, and at one time the capital of 
the ofreat black king-dom of Ghana. These two towns 
represented two elements in the life of the Soudan, and 
are therefore worth dwelling upon. The one represented 
the Berber, the other the black, element, which are to be 
found constantly side by side. Audoghast was a type of 
the Berber state, lying not in but on the northern edge 
of the Soudan, fronting the black races and having 
intercourse with them, but preserving a semi-separate 
existence. Aiwalatin was a type of the purely black 
state lying in the heart of the fertile belt. Each of 
these states in turn would seem to have paid tribute 
to the other ; each in turn was ruled by princes of 
the opposing race ; each had its periods of independence. 
The Soudanese author of the Tarikh-es- Soudan tells 
us that forty-four white princes had ruled over Ghana 
before the great black princes arose. In the early part 
of the eleventh century Audoghast was tributary to 


Ghana, and was ruled, as Sidjilmessa had once been, by 
a black prince. 

El Bekri has preserved an interesting description of 
both towns as they were known to the travellers and 
merchants of Mohammedan Spain. 

Before reaching Audoghast, he tells us, the pure desert 
of drifting sand gave way to sandy but wooded uplands, 
where a succession of wells furnished an ample water 
supply. Amongst these woods a rubber or gum tree was 
plentiful, of which the produce was exported to Spain, 
and much used in the manufacture of silk. From these 
wooded uplands the road led down to Audoghast, which 
was a large and thickly populated town, built in a sandy 
plain and surrounded by gardens and date-groves. Its 
pastures were well stocked with sheep and cattle, and 
meat was very plentiful, but wheat was cultivated as a 
garden crop. The rich alone indulged themselves in the 
use of it. The common grain, used by the people was 
dourra. Fields of henna bore heavy crops. The town had 
several mosques and other fine public buildings, and the 
houses generally were "very elegant." The people were 
rich and lived in great comfort. There was a large and 
extremely busy market, where, notwithstanding the dis- 
tance, wheat, fruit, sugar, and dried raisins from the 
Mohammedan countries were regularly sent. Honey, 
which was very plentiful, came from Negroland. Luxu- 
ries of all kinds were to be obtained for gold dust, which 
was the medium of exchange. There was no proper 
currency. Amongst the trade imports El Bekri mentions 
worked copper and dress stuffs, and amongst the exports 
amber and refined g:old run into the form of ofold wire. 
The refined gold of Audoghast had the reputation of being 
purer than that of any other country in the world. The 
population of Audoghast was very mixed, but was mainly 
Berber, consisting of natives from the Barbary coasts and 
members of the surrounding Berber tribes. There were 
also to be seen, El Bekri says, but in smaller numbers, 
people from all the great ^Mussulman towns o\ Spain, and 


amongst the white women many were remarkable for their 
beauty. The service of the households would appear to 
have been done by negroes, and the rich merchants 
of Audoghast owned sometimes as many as a thousand 
slaves. There were especially clever negress cooks who 
were worth ^loo apiece, and who knew how to prepare 
most appetising dishes, the flesh of camel calves stewed 
with truffles, maccaroni dressed with honey, nut cakes, 
and all kinds of sweetmeats. 

Between the years 961 and 971, that is, a hundred 
years earlier than the date of El Bekri's writing, Audo- 
ghast formed the centre of a Berber state which was ruled 
by a prince of the Senajah tribe whose name was Tin 
Yeroutan. More than twenty black kings acknowledged 
his rule and paid tribute to him, and his empire extended 
over an inhabited country which it required two months to 
march through from end to end. He was able to put in 
the field an army of no less than 100,000 men mounted 
upon trained camels. When the King of Macina, a 
Berber frontier state situated south of his territory upon 
the Niger, asked for help against a powerful black neigh- 
bour, he sent him 50,000 mounted men. The whole 
country from Audoghast to the Atlantic coast was in those 
days in the possession of the Berbers. Certain tribes, 
amongst whom were the Beni Goddala and the Lemtunah, 
destined afterwards to give the dynasty of the Almora- 
vides to Spain, retained their independence on the western 
coast, and as nomads continued for a long time to haunt 
the more westerly of the two roads to Negroland. All 
these tribes of the desert wore the double veil, the nicab, 
which concealed the upper part of the face, and the litham, 
which concealed the lower in such a way that only the 
orbit of the eyes was visible. "Never," El Bekri says, 
" in any circumstances did they take off the veil, and if 
by accident a man's veil had been taken off he would 
have been quite unrecognisable by his parents." When it 
happened in battle to a warrior the body could not be 
identified. "The veil," he adds, "is a thing which they 


no more take off than their skins, and to men who do not 
dress as they do they apply the nickname of ' fly-traps.' '" 

The Berber Tin Yeroutan had ruled in Audoghast a 
hundred years before El Bekri wrote, and in that time 
much had happened. The black kingdom of Ghana, 
already famous in the eighth centun,', had risen in pros- 
perity and importance, and had spread northwards, 
conquering amongst other territories the kingdom of 
Audoghast. In the year 1054 the town of Audoghast. 
still rich and flourishing, not only acknowledged the rule 
of Ghana and paid tribute, but was also a place of 
residence of the black monarch. But in the followingr 
year, 1055, the Almoravides, already setting out upon 
their northward march, made a first example of this town. 
They took it by assault and sacked and pillaged it, ex- 
posing it to every horror of barbaric warfare, and it is 
especially stated that " they treated the population of 
Audog-hast with this extreme ris^our because the town 
had acknowledged the sovereignty of the black king of 
Ghana. ' 

The actual position of the town of Ghana, of which no 
certain trace now remains, has been much disputed. Leo 
Africanus, by a careless phrase, confused it with the town 
of Kajio, upwards of 1200 miles distant in the Haussa 
States, and as a consequence, in the ver}- unenlightened 
condition of European knowledge, the traditions of the 
one town were commonly associated with the other until 
Cooley, in his " Xegroland of the Arabs," demonstrated 
once and for all the absurdity of such a geographical 
transposition. That the town of Ghana was somewhere 
in the west, situated between the Niger and the sea, and 
near to the issue of the western caravan road from 
Morocco, is not questioned. The exact locality is un- 
certain, but it is generally held that it was some days to 
the south-west of Timbuctoo. Taking into consideration 
that it is constantly spoken of as the capital of the kingdom 
of Ghana or Ghanata, and that that capital is also some- 
times spoken of as Biru and Walata, Ghanata and Walata 


beino- interchangeable, and that Walata, Biru, and Aiwa- 
latin are one, also noting the points of resemblance between 
the geographical description given by El Bekri of the 
position of Ghana, and by Ibn Batuta 300 years later of 
Aiwakitin, it scarcely seems to be doubtful that the Ghana 
of the eighth century was identical with the Aiwalatin of 
the fourteenth, and with the Walata of to-day. 

We learn by extracts from a Haussa record, of which 
the orio'inal has unfortunately been destroyed, that the 
people of Ghana were anciently known by the name of 
Towrooth or Taurud, and that they claimed to have come 
from the territory lying between the Tigris and the 
Euphrates. In other words, they claimed descent from 
the Assyrians or the Babylonians, both peoples who had 
their orio-in in the Taurus Mountains, and reached their 
hicrhest development in the Valley of the Euphrates and 
the Tigris. If the migration of the people of Ghana 
formed part of the movement impelled by the Chaldean 
conquest of Babylon, this would carry their settlement in 
Africa back to the seventh century before Christ. It may 
have been much earlier. When Alexander the Great took 
Babylon, he sent back for the information of Aristotle 
records of Babylonian astronomical observations extend- 
ing over 1903 years. 

Among the peoples ruled by Ghana in the Arab 
period, one of the most important was known by the 
name of Ungara, Wangara, or Wakore, of whom many 
were Fulani. The Wangara, at a later date, migrated 
eastward into the Haussa States. This people claimed 
on their part to have descended from the Persians. When, 
at a later period, they moved eastward from Ghana to 
Haussaland, the province which they founded was called 
indifferently Wangara or Ungara. It is, therefore, in- 
teresting to find that in the Ramayana, the Indian epic, 
a Rajah of Ungar is mentioned among, those who paid 
tribute to the famous Desaratha. Commentators who 
were in no way concerned with African history, have 
agreed that Ungar must have been a province of Persia 


on the northern frontier of India. We get, therefore, 
somewhere about the time of Moses a spot in Persia 
whence the Wangara may have originated. The fact 
that Persian influence extended at a very early period 
to the black countries of Africa is also attested by the 
ruins of Persepolis, where amongst the bas-reliefs believed 
to have been carved in commemoration of the glories of 
Cyrus and his immediate successors, there is one which 
shows the king in the act of receiving tribute from the 
ambassadors of subject nations, and amongst them there 
is a negro. Niebuhr tells us that the profile is unmistak- 
able, and that the hair of the negro is so carefully carved 
that it is impossible to mistake it for the hair of an Asiatic. 
Cambyses, son of Cyrus, conquered Egypt in 527 B.C., 
and his army perished in marching into Ethiopia. There 
is nothing impossible in the supposition that fragments 
of that defeated army may have remained and settled in 
the Soudan. 

Further information of the remote antiquity of Ghana 
seems unfortunately to be at present unattainable. So 
far as we are aware, no monuments remain to confirm 
the traditions of the people. I give these surmises, there- 
fore, for what they may be worth, and have myself found 
nothing to connect the Taurud of Ghana with the ancient 
Babylonians except two characteristics mentioned by 
El Bekri : one is that they were workers in gems, the 
other is that their notables indulged a passion for fine 
dogs. Both of these, as we know, were also charac- 
teristics of the people of Babylon. 

We are on safer ground when we return to the 
medieval records of Arab writers. 

In the years 1067 Ghana was still the principal black 
kingdom of the Western Soudan. The name of its 
reigning sovereign was Tenkamenin, who ascended the 
throne in the year 1062, in succession to his maternal 
uncle, Beci. It was the custom amongst these blacks 
for the succession to go always to the son of the king's 


The town of Ghana, which, after the sack of Audoghast 
by the Almoravides, became the royal residence of the 
kings, was composed, according to El Bekri, of two towns 
situated in a plain. One town was Mussulman and the 
other pagan. The king himself was a pagan, and lived 
in the pagan town. The Mussulman town was very 
large, and contained no less than twelve mosques. All 
these mosques had their i7nanis, their nioweddins, and 
their salaried readers. There were also schools and 
centres of learning, and according to the author of the 
Tarikh-es-Soucimiy the town, besides being the meeting- 
place of commercial caravans from all parts of the world, 
was "the resort of the learned, the rich, and the pious 
of all nations." They came, he says, from Egypt, from 
Augila, from the Fezzan, from Ghadames, from Taouat, 
from Dra, from Sidjilmessa, from Sus, from Bitou, and 
other places. This account is fully borne out by later 
writers. El Edrisi, writing in 1153, describes the king's 
residence as being a well-built castle, thoroughly fortified, 
decorated inside with sculptures and pictures, and having 
glass windows. El Bekri makes no mention of glass, but 
says that the king's residence in the pagan town consisted 
of a "castle" surrounded by native huts. He mentions 
that the buildings generally were composed of stone and 
acacia wood. The native town was six miles distant from 
the Mussulman town, but the w^hole space was covered 
by suburbs, consisting of stone houses standing in gardens. 
In the native town there w^as one mosque for the use of 
Mohammedans occupied on duty round the king. The 
king's principal ministers and advisers were at this time 
Mohammedans, and he and his heir-presumptive wore 
Mohammedan dress, but the religion of the country was 
still devoutly pagan, and all other persons of native religion, 
except the king and his heir, wore robes of cotton, silk, or 
brocade, according to their means. The local religion, 
evidently different from the paganism now practised among 
the lower class tribes upon the coast, had yet certain points 
of resemblance. 


The royal town, says El Bekri, was surrounded by 
groves jealously guarded, which were sacred to the worship 
of the gods. Here dwelt the priests who directed religious 
worship. No other person was allowed to enter or to 
know anything of what happened within their precincts. 
Here were the idols of the nation. Here also were the 
tombs of the kings, and the royal prisons, in which, if a 
man were once confined, he was never heard of again. 
From the description of royal funerals it may be inferred 
that a new grove was planted for each tomb. On the 
death of a king, the custom was to construct a great dome 
of wood on the spot which was to serve as his tomb. The 
body was then laid upon a couch covered with drapery 
and cushions, and placed within the dome. Round the 
dead were laid his decorations, his arms, the dishes and 
cups from which he was in the habit of eating and drink- 
ing, and various kinds of food and drink. With the body 
of the sovereign were enclosed several of his cooks and 
attendants. The edifice was covered with cloth and mats. 
The assembled multitudes then threw earth upon the tomb 
until a great hill was formed. When this was done the 
monument was secured from defilement^By^ ditch which 
left only one passage of approach, ^^gf^fices^sto the dead 
were also made. v" / 

This system of burial recalls ^d^sci^ibtion given by 
Macrizi, in his " Historical Descriptidrj^^loFEgypt," of the 
burial of Misraim, who died seven hun(3/ed years after the 
Flood, and who is said to have given the ancient name 
of "Misr" to Lower Egypt. Misraim being dead, they 
prepared for him, INIacrizi tells us, a hollow place most 
richly decorated, with a pedestal in the midst of it. On 
the pedestal they engraved an inscription: "He never 
worshipped idols, neither was he ever old, nor sick, nor 
downcast, nor morose. His strength was in the Most 
High God." The body, in a coffin of marble and gold, 
was laid near the pedestal, and on the pedestal — of which, 
perhaps, the translation should be platform — was heaped 
every kind of precious possession, emeralds, pearls, gold, 



talismans, perfumes, &c. The whole was then covered 
with rocks, over which earth was heaped, between two 
mountains, and his son took the reins of government. 

The descent from this form of sepulture to that of 
Ghana, and again from that of Ghana to that now practised 
among the fetish worshippers of the coast, is illustrative of 
the decadence which an ideal may undergo as it passes 
from its original source into the keeping of lower orders 
of comprehension. 

Magic and trial by ordeal were also in use among the 
people of Ghana. El Bekri is the latest of the Arab 
authors who refers to these native rites. Shortly after the 
period at which he wrote the whole country would appear 
to have become Mohammedan. 

Ten days to the south of Ghana was the country of 
tl5b Lem-Lems or cannibals, whom it was the custom to 
raid for slaves. Within the kingdom there was a district 
of which the inhabitants were naked pagans, very expert 
in the use of the bow and arrow. There was another 
district entirely inhabited by the descendants of the soldiers 
sent by the Ommeyade Arabs against Ghana in the first 
years of the Hegira. These people kept their light com- 
plexions and the fine features of their race. 

In nearly all the important towns of the country, 
Mussulman traders from the countries of the north were to 
be met. In some of the towns Mussulmans did not take 
up their residence, but they were always well received. 

Tenkamenin, besides having already adopted Moham- 
medan dress, was much governed by Mohammedan opinion. 
He is described as the master of a vast empire, and of a 
power which rendered him very formidable. He could put 
in the field an army of 200,000 men, of whom more than 
40,000 were armed with bows and arrows. The wealth of 
the country was very great. The soil was fertile, and 
gave generally two crops a year. Gold was abundant. 
The custom, according to El Bekri, was that all nuggets 
found in the mines of the Empire belonged to the 
sovereign, while the public was allowed to keep the gold 


dust. "Without this precaution," El Bekri gravely 
states, "gold would become so abundant that it would 
have hardly any value." The nuggets found in the mines 
of Ghana varied usually in weight from an ounce to a 
pound ; some were much larger. The king had one which 
weighed thirty pounds. There was a part of the country 
called El Ferouin, in which gold was so plentiful and 
salt so scarce, that salt was sold for its weight in gold. 
The king had further sources of wealth in a very large 
customs revenue raised on salt, copper, and foreign 

When he gave audience to the people, Tenkamenin 
appeared in great state, seated under a pavilion round 
which were ranged ten horses caparisoned in gold. 
Behind him were ten pages bearing shields and swords 
mounted in gold. On his right stood " the sons of the 
princes of the Empire, magnificently dressed." The 
governor of the town and all the ministers sat upon the 
ground before the king. The door of the pavilion was 
guarded by pure-bred dogs, whose collars were of gold 
and silver, with bells of the same metal. It was the 
custom for these dogs never to leave the spot occupied 
by the king. On the days of audience the grievances of 
the people were inquired into by the king. El Bekri 
tells us little of the system of justice of the country, 
except that it was organised by the Mohammedan 
ministers of the king. 

Mohammedanism had made such evident progress in 
the middle of the eleventh century, that it is not surprising 
to learn a century later from El Idrisi, that the King of 
Ghana and the notables of his day were Mohammedan, 
and that the king accepted investiture from the Eastern 
Caliph. There had, however, intervened between the 
period of the two writers a Mohammedan conquest of 
which we have yet to hear. 


The constant allusions made by early writers to the trade 
of Ghana leave no doubt that its commercial relations 
with the outside world had already become very important 
during the period in which the Ommeyades ruled in Spain. 
Gold, slaves, skins, ivory, kola-nuts, gums, honey, corn, 
and cotton, are among the articles of export which are 
most frequently named. Hardly a town is mentioned 
in the states of Northern and North- Western Africa of 
which it is not said that it carried on trade with the 
Soudan. Augila, in the back country of Tripoli, War- 
gelan or Wargla, in the back country of Algiers, with 
Sidjilmessa in the back country of Morocco, were all 
known by the name of "Gates of the Desert." Augila 
was the special entrance of the trade with Egypt and the 
East ; Sidjilmessa, which was the entrance for the trade 
of the West, has already been described ; Wargelan, which 
lies on the parallel of Bugia, is specially mentioned as 
being inhabited by very rich merchants, who made their 
fortunes from the gold of the Soudan, brought to War- 
gelan in the form of gold dust, and "coined" there for 
export. From Wargelan to Ghana was, we are told, a 
journey of thirty days. 

At a somewhat later date, towards the end of the 
jjeriod of the Ommeyades, we have a circumstantial 
account of how the ancestors of the historian Al Makkari 
carried on a trade between Europe and the Soudan, by 
which the fortunes of the house of Makkari were laid. An 
ancestor of his, writing in the fourteenth century, says : 
" From time immemorial my family had exercised the pro- 


fession of commerce in the countries where they settled, 
deriving no small share of influence and riches from it. 
They furrowed the sands of the desert in all directions ; 
they dug wells and facilitated travelling in the Sahara, 
thus affording security to merchants and travellers. They 
took a drum, and marching always preceded by a banner, 
they headed the numerous caravans which from time to 
time penetrated into the country of the blacks. . . ." 

A certain Abdurrahman, one of the family, having 
died and left behind him five sons, " they determined 
upon forming a partnership, carrying on the trade con- 
jointly, and dividing between themselves the profits of 
their mercantile speculations." They accordingly threw 
together in a "common fund all their father's inheritance, 
and having held a consultation together as to the means 
of carrying on the trade to the greatest advantage," it was 
"agreed" that two should remain and establish themselves 
at Telem9an, at this time a principal port upon the Medi- 
terranean for European trade ; that one should fix his 
residence at Sidjilmessa ; and lastly, that two should go 
to Aiwalatin in the desert. 

"It was done as agreed between them. Each reached 
his place of destination, settled there, married and had 
a family, and they began to conduct their trade in the 
following manner : those in Telem9an sent to their part- 
ners in the desert such goods and commodities as were 
wanted in those districts, while these supplied them in 
return with skins, ivory, and kola-nuts. In the mean- 
while the one stationed at Sidjilmessa was like the tongue 
of the balance between the two, since, being placed at 
a convenient distance between Telem^an and the desert, 
he took care to acquaint the respective parties with the 
fluctuations of trade, the amount of losses sustained by 
traders, the overstock of the markets, or the great demand 
for certain articles ; " and, in short, to inform them of 
the "secret designs of other merchants engaged in the 
same trade, as well as of the political events which 
might in any way influence it. By these means they were 


enabled to carry on their speculations with the greatest 
success ; their wealth increased, and their importance 
waxed every day greater." 

An account is then given of how on one occasion 
in Aiwakitin, when the neighbouring Sultan of Tekrour 
attacked and took the town, the property and lives of the 
Arab merchants, including those of the Makkari company, 
were placed in great danger. " But my ancestors, being 
men of great courage and determination, would not con- 
sent to witness their ruin. They assembled all their 
servants and dependents, and such traders as happened 
to be in Aiwalatin at the time, and having distributed 
arms among them, they shut themselves up in their 
warehouses, and decided to fight, if necessary, for the 
defence of their goods and chattels." 

Catastrophe was averted, however, by an interview 
between the senior partner and the invading king, who 
agreed to extend his protection to the company, and who 
treated them from that time with the utmost favour and 
distinction. "He frequently after this wrote to the 
partners at Telem9an, applying directly for such goods 
as he wanted for his own consumption, or such as 
were most sought for in his dominions." This political 
development seems to have greatly enlarged the scope 
of the operations of the Makkari firm. "The moment 
my ancestors perceived that they could trust and rely 
on kings, such difficulties as might have existed before 
were speedily removed. . . . The desert and its dangers 
seemed no longer the scene of death and misery, and 
they began to frequent its most lonely and dangerous 
tracts, their v/ealth thereby increasing so rapidly that 
it almost surpassed the limits of computation. Nor," 
says the account, " were these the only advantages arising 
from their enterprise ; the natives with whom they traded 
were considerably benefited by it. For it must be under- 
stood that the trade with the desert was in the most 
deplorable state before the people of Makkareh engaged 
in it. Merchants, totally unacquainted with the real wants 


of the inhabitants, carried thither articles which were 
either of no use or of no vahae to them, taking in exchange 
objects which were a source of profit and wealth. This 
even went so far that an African sovereign was once heard 
to say : ' Were it not that I consider it a bad action, I 
would, by God ! prevent these Soudan traders from stop- 
ping in my dominions ; for thither they go with the most 
paltry merchandise, and bring in return the gold which 
conquers the world.' However, when my ancestors had 
once established a direct trade with those countries, the 
scene changed, and the blacks were better and more 
abundantly provided with such articles as they stood most 
in need of. They also were furnished with goods which 
they had never seen before, and they obtained a better 
price for their returns." 

The writer of this account was a Judge of the Supreme 
Court of Fez in the year 1356. Presumably, therefore, 
he may have been born about the year 1300, and he 
counts himself sixth in descent from Abdurrahman, the 
founder of the firm. Allowing thirty years for a genera- 
tion, this would get us back near to the year 1 100, or not 
very far distant from the period at which the life of Ghana 
has been described. As all writers agree that the trade 
of Ghana was important in the eighth and ninth centuries, 
we must assume that, with the approaching decline of 
the kingdom, the trade had already fallen into some 
decay, from which it was revived by the exertions of the 
Makkari firm. The account is interesting for the in- 
dication which it gives that, in the early period of Arab 
trade with the Soudan, companies found it necessary, as 
European companies have found at a later date, to acquire 
political as well as commercial influence, and also that 
the better class of traders exercised a wise discretion 
as to the class of articles which they introduced to the 
notice of the natives. 

The allusion made in the incidents which have been 
related to the successful attack upon Ghana by a neigh- 
bouring king may be taken, perhaps, to presage the con- 


quest of Ghana, first by Susu and then by Melle, events 
which took place, the first in the twelfth, and the second 
in the thirteenth century. 

Many lesser kingdoms, both black and Berber, sur- 
rounded Ghana. Amongst the black, El Bekri mentions 
specially Tekrour and Silla, both of which, though black, 
already in the middle of the eleventh century professed 
Mohammedanism. Silla, which was situated on the banks 
of the Niger, where the river skirted the south-eastern 
frontier of the Empire of Ghana, was, when El Bekri wrote, 
a country of some importance, able, he says, to maintain 
its independence against Ghana, and was a centre of the 
cotton industry. At Terensa, a town within the limits 
of this country, he remarks, "that no house is without 
its cotton plantation." 

Among the lesser kingdoms, also, south and east of 
Ghana, one which deserves special mention is Masina, of 
which the inhabitants were largely Fulani. This little 
state is particularly interesting as having in its origin 
submitted by agreement to draw its rulers equally from 
Fulani and Berber sources, and as having succeeded in 
maintaining its integrity if not its independence for many 
centuries against the invasion of surrounding black peoples. 
It has been already mentioned as having solicited with 
success the assistance of Tin Yeroutan, the Berber king 
of Audoghast in the tenth century, against its black neigh- 
bours of Aougham. After passing through many vicissi- 
tudes, including submission to the black dynasty of Melle 
and the Songhay dynasty of Timbuctoo, it is mentioned 
again by the author of the Tarikh-es-Soudan, as re- 
fusing any longer, in 1629, to accept the investiture of 
its rulers from the hands of the decadent and Moorish 

But it does not fall within the scope of this book to 
attempt to deal with the many nations of the Western 
Soudan who arose and fell within a period of a thousand 
years. For the purpose of tracing the course of civilisation 
through the fertile belt it is enough to mention a few of 


the most important. Amongst these Melle followed most 
closely upon the footsteps of Ghana, but at the end of the 
eleventh century it was a mere town, mentioned by El 
Bekri, under the name of El Melel, as occupying a position 
of no great importance on the Bend of the Niger. Its 
kings were at that date already Mohammedans, but the 
mass of its people were " still plunged in idolatry." 

Little would seem to have been known to the Spanish 
Arabs in El Bekri's days of the countries lying eastwards 
of the Bend of the Niger. El Bekri gives, however, a very 
accurate account of the course of the Niger throughout the 
northern portion of the Bend, describing some of the prin- 
cipal towns, though not all, which were at that time in 
existence on the part of the river known as the " Ras- 
el-Ma," or " Head of the Waters," where, near to the 
present position of Timbuctoo, the river, according to El 
Bekri's description, "leaves the Land of the Blacks" 
and runs eastwards for six days to a place which he calls 
Tirca before turning south by the famous city of Kagho 
or Kaougho. El Bekri tells us little of the place, of which 
the author of the Tarikh-es-Soudan says " that it was a 
city in the days of the Pharaohs." It has been gener- 
ally identified as occupying the position of the present 
town of Gao. El Bekri's knowledge of it went no fur- 
ther than to enable him to say that its king was Moham- 
medan though the people were still pagan, and that from 
this point the Niger ran southward into the country of 
the Dem-Dems or cannibals. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of this place there 
were, he tells us also, "a great quantity of mines which 
furnished eold dust." Of all the countries of the blacks 
it was the richest in gold, and foreign and black merchants, 
whom he designates by the name of Noughamarta, were 
constantly occupied in carrying this gold into all countries. 
All that El Bekri appears to know of the country lying 
between the Niger and Lake Chad is, that first there came 
a great kingdom, extending for more than an eight days' 
march, of which the sovereigns bear the title of " Du," 


beyond which comes Kanem, a country of the idolaters. 
The names of the early kings of Bornu all began with 
" Du." It is therefore presumable that El Bekri was 
correctly informed as to the position of Bornu, which at 
that time probably overran Haussaland ; but he gives us 
no information with regard to it. This silence on the part 
of a Spanish Arab, so generally well informed as El Bekri, 
seems to confirm the theory that the countries eastward of 
the Bend of the Niger derived their civilisation largely 
from Egypt via the Tripoli-Fezzan route, scarcely used at 
this time by the Western Arabs. 

El Bekri makes no mention at all of Nupe, one of the 
oldest and most important of the purely native kingdoms, 
nor of Borgu, also a kingdom of great antiquity, which is 
said to have derived an early Christianity from the Copts 
of Egypt. 

The waters of the Niger at the northern part of its 
course divided the Land of the Blacks, he tells us, from the 
territories of the Berbers on its northern banks. As the 
operations of these Berber tribes precede, in point of date, 
the rise of the kingdom of Melle, it may be well to turn 
for a moment to the eastern development of that Desert 
Kingdom which gave the Almoravide dynasty to Spain. 



It will be remembered that the population of the Desert 
Kingdom was composed of united Berber tribes, whose 
occupation of the desert was of immemorial antiquity. 
The united tribes were ruled, in the very healthy part of 
Africa which spreads inward from the Atlantic coast to 
the Sahara, by hereditary Berber kings. It has already 
been mentioned that Tiloutan, who died in 837 a.d., was 
one of the first of these to exact tribute from the black 
kingdoms of the Western Soudan, and that his descendant, 
Tin Yeroutan, was ruling in Audoghast between the years 
961 and 971. This Berber rule having been overthrown 
by the black monarch of Ghana, it was by an act of natural 
retribution, when the Almoravides formed themselves into 
a religious fighting force in the heart of the desert kingdom, 
that one of the first incidents of their Holy War was the 
sack of Audoghast and its restoration to Berber rule. But 
the taking of Audoghast was indicative of a movement 
which was in some sort to decide the fate of the Desert 
Kingdom. At the moment at which El Bekri wrote, this 
ancient kingdom was about to divide itself permanently 
into two sections, of which one, moving northwards under 
the Morabite commanders, was to renew the power of 
Africa upon the throne of Spain, while the other, breaking 
away from its brethren of the north, was to follow the 
road suggested to its armies by the taking of Audoghast ; 
and, having carried the banners of the Crescent from the 
shores of the Atlantic to the Nile, was to scatter itself 
eventually in divided communities along the southern edge 
of the Sahara Desert. The Desert Kingdom itself dis- 


appeared, but in Africa the northern branch of the 
Almoravides left a permanent mark upon history by the 
foundation of the town of Morocco, while the southern 
branch left a no less permanent record in the foundation of 
Timbuctoo. These two towns came into existence within 
twenty-five years of each other. They were born of the 
same Almoravide parents, and were the outcome of the 
same religious and political upheaval. 

El Bekri, safe in the seclusion of the court of Seville, 
to which before his death the Almoravides were to march 
as stern deliverers from the Christian yoke, was aware of 
the formation of the sect on the southern frontier of the 
Desert Kingdom. He had heard of the taking of Audo- 
ghast and of the advance to Sidjilmessa in 1056. But 
after the taking of the latter town he had evidently re- 
ceived only imperfect rumours of the reorganisation of the 
Almoravides under their new leader Yusuf. He makes 
no mention of the foundation of the town of Morocco, 
which took place in 1062 ; and writing — as he expressly 
says — in the year 1067, he no doubt gave the latest infor- 
mation possessed at Seville, when he says : "The present 
Emir of the Almoravides is Abou Bekr, but their Empire 
is broken up and their power divided. They now main- 
tain themselves in the desert." 

It is to I bn Khaldun that we turn for the fuller history 
of this movement. 

The northward march of the Almoravides has been 
related in an earlier chapter. It will be remembered that 
when, after the death of the original leader, success had 
crowned the arms of Abou Bekr, he was recalled from the 
northern provinces by the report of dissensions which had 
broken out between the tribes of the kingdom in the south, 
and that, placing full power in the north in the hands of 
his cousin Yusuf (or Joseph) Tachefin, he himself returned 
southwards with the object of reconciling his turbulent 
subjects. To effect this reconciliation he initiated a new 
campaign to the east, in the direction thrown open by the 
taking of Audoghast, and, as a matter of fact, he never 


again returned to the north. By a friendly partition 
agreed to in 1062, the northern provinces to the Medi- 
terranean were ceded to Yusuf, while Abou Bekr retained 
for himself the old regions of the desert in the south. 
He retained also the old licence to extend these regions as 
far as force of arms could carry them. 

We first hear of him as leading the armies of his 
followers on a victorious march across the southern borders 
of the desert, fighting with the pagan nations of the 
Soudan for a distance of ninety days east of the most 
easterly frontier of the Desert Kingdom. In these 
territories, as he conquered them, he assigned areas 
for the habitation of the principal tribes who had united 
beneath his banners. But these territories were not in the 
Soudan proper, as we know it. They were north of the 
Great River, and Ibn Khaldun, describing the position 
occupied by their descendants who were still all " Wearers 
of the Veil " 300 years later, especially tells us that they 
had never territorially occupied the Soudan, but remained 
in the desert, changing nothing in their ways. "Always 
divided and disunited by the diversity of their habits and 
their interests, they formed," he says, "a cordon of desert 
nations upon the northern frontier of the Soudan, sepa- 
rating its territory from the sandy regions that lie between 
it and the States of North Africa and Morocco." 

By the end of the fourteenth century, when Ibn 
Khaldun wrote, this cordon of desert nations stretched 
from the Atlantic to the Nile ; but by that date the people 
comprising it were subject to the black kings of the 
Soudan, paid them tribute, and furnished contingents for 
their armies. 

Under Abou Bekr, at the end of the eleventh century, 
the united tribes marched as conquerors, and their cam- 
paign did not abandon its character as a Holy War. If 
they made no territorial confiscations, they claimed tribute 
from the vanquished peoples, and they imposed the Moslem 
faith upon all infidels who submitted to their arms. In 
some cases the necessity of accepting the faith was com- 


muted for payment of a subsidy ; but historians are practi- 
cally in agreement that the conversion of the northern 
belt of the Soudan to Mohammedanism became general 
at about this date. The Almoravides did not confine their 
requirements to a purely nominal conversion. Doctors of 
divinity and Moslem teachers were sent into the black 
countries to teach the true faith, and no doubt the increase 
of communication which at this time took place with Spain 
opened the way for the acceptance of more enlightened 
religious views. 

Although the cordon of natives spoken of by Ibn 
Khaldun in the fourteenth century extended at that period 
as far eastward as the Nile, the march of Abou Bekr 
in the eleventh century does not appear to have been 
carried beyond the deserts lying to the north and north- 
east of the Bend of the Niger. The Berber nations which 
completed the cordon are distinctly stated by other writers 
to have come down from Tripoli and the East. 

Two important political incidents marked the campaign 
of Abou Bekr. In 1076 he carried the vengeance of 
Audoghast to the gates of Ghana, and, overthrowing the 
reigning black dynasty, placed a Berber on the throne. 
The life of the country does not seem to have been pro- 
foundly affected at the time by this revolution. El Idrisi, 
writing nearly a hundred years later, still speaks of it as 
being the greatest kingdom of the blacks. He mentions 
the fact that it is ruled by a king of Berber descent, 
who " governs by his own authority, but gives allegiance 
to the Abbasside Sultan of Egypt," and that the king 
and people are now Mohammedans ; but he does not 
speak of it as having become in any respect a Berber 

Here is his account : " Ghana ... is the most consider- 
able, the most thickly populated, and the most commercial 
of the black countries. It is visited by rich merchants 
from all the surrounding countries, and from the extremities 
of the West. Its inhabitants are Mussulman. . . . The 
king governs by his own authority, but he does obeisance 


to the Abbasside Commander of the Faithful" — that is, 
the Egyptian CaHph. Then follows a description of the 
palace already mentioned, and the date of its construction, 
1116 A.D. "The territory and domains of this king," 
Edrisi continues, " are conterminous with Wangara, 
or the country of gold." The king's nugget, weighing 
30 lbs., is mentioned, and we are told that it was "an 
entirely natural production, which has been neither 
melted nor worked by the hand of man, except for 
the fact that a hole had been made through it in order 
that it might be fastened to the king's throne." It was 
regarded as a curio, unique of its kind, and the king was 
proud of its fame in the Soudan. Other writers give 
more fabulous weights to this famous nugget, and it 
appears to have remained among the royal treasures for 
upwards of two hundred years ; for Ibn Khaldun mentions, 
at the end of the fourteenth century, a degenerate monarch 
of the conquering dynasty of Melle who sold the nugget 
for the value of its gold. Edrisi describes the King of 
Ghana, who was contemporary to himself, as "one of the 
most just of men," whose custom it was to ride once daily 
into the poorest and most wretched quarters of the city, and 
there to dispense justice to all who had ground for com- 
plaint. On all other occasions he rode with great pomp, 
magnificently dressed in silk and jewels, surrounded by 
guards preceded by elephants, giraffes, and other wild 
animals of the Soudan, and no one dared to approach him. 
The territory of Ghana proper was bounded, Edrisi tells 
us, by " Mazzawa on the west, by Wangara on the east, 
by the desert plains of the Soudan and the Berbers on 
the north, and on the south by the pagan countries of 
the Lem-lems and others." Mazzawa must be taken to 
represent the territory which was the seat of the Desert 
Kingdom, a country over which Melle was soon to extend 
its authority. Of Wangara Edrisi gives the following 
description : " From the town of Ghana to the frontier 
of Wangara is an eight days' journey. This latter country 
is renowned for the quantity and the quality of the gold 


which it produces. It forms an island of about 300 miles 
in length by 150 in breadth, which the Nile [Niger] sur- 
rounds on all sides, and at all seasons. Towards the 
month of August, when the heat is extreme and the Nile 
overflows its bed, the island, or the greater part of the 
island, is inundated for a regular time. When the flood 
decreases, natives from all parts of the Soudan assemble 
and come to the country to seek for gold during the fall 
of the water. Each gathers the quantity of gold great or 
small which God has allotted to him, no one being entirely 
deprived of the fruit of his labour. When the waters of 
the river have returned to their bed every one sells the 
gold he has found. The greater part is bought by the 
inhabitants of Wargelan, and some by those of the extreme 
west of Africa, where the gold is taken to the mints, coined 
into dinars, and put into circulation for the purchase of mer- 
chandise. This happens every year. ... In Wangara 
there are flourishing towns and famous fortresses. Its 
inhabitants are rich. They possess gold in abundance, 
and receive productions which are brought to them from 
the most distant countries of the world." Like the in- 
habitants of Ghana, they wore mantles and veils. They 
were entirely black. The whole of the country owed 
allegiance to Ghana, in the name of whose sovereign the 
Khotbah was read and government was carried on. 

The change of dynasty in Ghana between the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries altered little, therefore, in the habits 
or prosperity of the country. It serves principally to 
illustrate the alternating rule of black and white sovereigns, 
which was apparently accepted without difficulty in the 

It was perhaps rather in the other political event of 
the campaign to which allusion has been made than in the 
substitution of Berber for native rule in Ghana that a 
prophetic eye would have seen the little cloud destined 
some day to overspread the fair horizon of Ghana's future. 
This was the foundation of Timbuctoo by the Tuaregs in 
the year 1087. 



It was indeed a fine movement of historic fate which 
caused the conqueror of Ghana to become the instrument 
of the foundation of Timbuctoo. " The prosperity of 
Timbuctoo," says the author of the Tarikh-es-Soudan, 
who was himself born in that town in the year 1596, "was 
the ruin of Ghana." Before the great days of Timbuctoo, 
Ghana, he tells us, "was the centre of the Soudan." 
After the rise of Timbuctoo all was gradually transferred. 
Timbuctoo drew to itself not only the wealth but the 
learning and enlightenment of the civilised world, and 
became the home of all that was " pure, delightful, and 
illustrious " in the Soudan. But the days of Timbuctoo's 
greatness were not yet ; queen of the Soudan, as she was 
afterwards proudly to become, she was born, if not in a 
manger, yet under circumstances nearly approaching to 
the lowest conditions of humility. Abou Bekr was not 
himself the founder of the town. The Tuaregs of his 
train, to whom were allotted for their occupation the por- 
tion of the desert opposite to the most northerly reaches 
of the Nipfer, would seem to have chosen the site some 
nine years after his death. They were, like all the nomads 
of the desert, a pastoral people, and used to feed their 
flocks in the summer season upon the northern or left 
bank of the Niger. They never crossed the river to 
the Soudan side, but withdrew in the autumn and winter 
months to the interior uplands of the desert. The spot 
on which Timbuctoo now stands was the extreme limit 
of these summer wanderings. At first they had only an 
encampment there ; gradually their encampment became 

113 H 


a meeting-place for travellers coming from different parts 
of the country. Then they made of it a store where they 
left food and other objects of necessary use, and they 
placed the store under the care of an old female slave 
called Timbuctoo. So homely, according to the appar- 
ently best-informed writers, was the origin of the after- 
wards famous name. But if Timbuctoo had the homeliness, 
she had also the purity of a simple origin. The town, 
founded by Mohammedans, was never sullied by pagan 
worship. " Upon its soil," we are told, " no knee was 
ever bent, except to the Most Merciful " — a curious com- 
mentary, alas, upon certain subsequent passages of its 
history. At first the dwellings of the town were con- 
structed simply of thorns and straw, later they grew into 
clay huts. Later still low walls were built all round them. 
Finally a mosque was erected large enough for the needs 
of the inhabitants. But though the site was never altered, 
and the foundation of Timbuctoo, the stronghold of Moham- 
medanism in the Soudan, may therefore be regarded 
as the direct outcome of the religious campaign of Abou 
Bekr, it was not for two hundred years that the real town 
of Timbuctoo, as it was known in its greatness to pos- 
terity, was built by one of the kings of Melle, himself a 
Mohammedan, though black, and two more centuries were 
added to these before Timbuctoo reached the summit of 
its prosperity and fame as the capital of the Songhay 

However much it may flatter the pride of the historians 
of Timbuctoo to represent it as the cause of the downfall 
of Ghana, it is evident that the rivalry between the two 
towns must have been of much later date than the 
Almoravide conquest of Ghana. Ghana was in a position 
to bear a very active part in such rivalry for many genera- 
tions after its conquest by the Berbers of Abou Bekr's 
train. The conquest by which the independence of Ghana 
was overthrown was not in fact the conquest of Abou 
Bekr. Between the Almoravide campaign of the end of 
the eleventh century and the development of the greatness 


of Timbuctoo under the Songhay dynasty, a very important 
chapter of Soudanese history was to intervene. This was 
the rise of the kingdom of Melle, the first of the black 
Mohammedan native states to be recognised on terms of 
equality by the other Mohammedan kingdoms of North 
Africa. It was the conquest of Ghana by Melle which 
really put an end to the independence of Ghana, and 
merged its history in that of the more civilised empire. 

We have seen that at the end of the eleventh century, 
when Ghana submitted to the vengeance of Abou Bekr, 
Melle was but a town of second-rate importance in the 
bend of the Niger. A place of more distinction mentioned 
by El Bekri was Tekrour. Whether the Tekrour of El 
Bekri was identical with Jenne, a town of which the 
history is famous, and which was founded by Songhay 
pagans about the year 800 of our era, I leave for the 
more learned to decide. There are grounds for believing 
that this may have been the case ; but " Tekrour," of 
which the literal meaning is " black," is one of the names 
that create confusion in the history of the Soudan. It 
has evidently been applied at different periods to different 
peoples. However this may have been, Ghana was at a 
period subsequent to the Almoravide conquest attacked 
and apparently for a time overwhelmed by the neigh- 
bouring black kingdom of Tekrour. In the earlier 
period of its history, Ghana had ruled over the Wangara. 
When Idrisi speaks of it in the middle of the twelfth 
century, though still the greatest of black kingdoms, with 
a trade extending to Egypt, North Africa, and Spain, its 
territory had apparently diminished, for Idrisi describes 
it as limited on the east by the territory of the Wangara, 
— whom he calls also by the alternative name of Man- 
dingoes — and they, instead of forming part of the kingdom, 
were only tributary. Ibn Khaldun says that before the 
rise of Melle, Ghana was conquered by the Su-Su. The 
Su-Su, as they now exist, are of Mandingo origin. It is 
therefore possible that the Wangara, once the subjects of 
Ghana, became its rulers. No historian, however, dwells 


with any detail upon these early conquests. They are 
interesting merely as indications of the approaching dis- 
appearance of the supremacy of Ghana. While Tim- 
buctoo, which was destined to represent the great centre 
of Mohammedanism in the Soudan, was growing, Ghana, 
the great centre of paganism, was passing away. It had 
maintained itself from a period long antecedent to the 
Hegira. After an existence of perhaps a thousand years, 
the term of its decadence had arrived, and toward the 
beginning of the thirteenth century of our era it had 
reached a condition in which, being at once rich and 
weak, it could scarcely fail to become the prey of stronger 
neighbours. By the end of that century it had become 
subject to its Mohammedan neighbour Melle. 

So silently, and without dramatic rites, the gods of 
paganism disappear from the front rank of the history 
of the Soudan. No dome was built for them in Ghana. 
No ditch was dug. No sacred grove was planted. They 
simply fell back into the dark and barbarous country to 
the south — the land of the Lem-Lem, which Arab his- 
torians dismiss contemptuously as the land of idolaters 
"who eat men." The memory of these pagan gods 
lingered long amongst the lower orders of the northern 
states ; but whatever their worship had brought with it 
of enlightenment from the antiquity of eastern civilisa- 
tion was finally extinguished in the barbaric caricature 
which is the memorial preserved of them to the present 
day by certain tribes of the southern coast. 



The empire of Melle and its dependencies, known to the 
Arabs as " The Mellestine," which rose in the thirteenth 
century on the ruins of Ghana, was the first of the gfeat 
black Mohammedan kingdoms of the Western Soudan to 
claim intercourse on equal terms with contemporary civilisa- 
tion. In the days of its greatest prosperity the territories 
of the Mellestine extended from the coast of the Atlantic 
on the west to the Niger boundary of Haussaland on the 
east, and from the country of the cannibals on the south 
its protectorate extended into the desert as far as the 
frontier of Wargelan. 

^^ I353j when the fortunes of Melle were at their 
highest, Ibn Khaldun, who was then employed on a 
political mission at Biskra, met one of the notables of 
Tekadda, an important Berber town of the desert, which, 
"like all other towns of the Sahara," at that time acknow- 
ledged the sovereignty of Melle. Amongst other details 
of the caravan trade which Ibn Khaldun learned from 
this man he mentions that caravans from Egypt, consist- 
ing of 12,000 laden camels, passed every year through 
Tekadda on their way to Melle. The load of a camel 
was 300 lbs. : 12,000 camel loads amounted, therefore, to 
something like 1600 tons of merchandise. In the com- 
parison which has so often been made of a caravan of 
the desert to a ship, it is worth while to remember that, 
at this date, there was probably not a ship in any of the 
merchant navies of the world which would carry 100 tons. 
At the time of the Armada, 250 years later, when English 
and Spanish merchant ships were scouring the Eastern 


and the Western seas, the average tonnage of the vessels 
which composed the Spanish force was 500 tons, and 
that of the English ships much less. The largest ship 
which Queen Elizabeth had in her navy, the Great Harry, 
was 1000 tons, but it was considered an exception and 
marvel of the age. 

The western half of the desert was no less active in 
trade with Melle than the eastern. All the desert towns, 
we are told, from Twat westward, were halting-places for 
caravans passing between Morocco, the Barbary coast, 
and Melle. Tementit, a community of about 200 villages, 
lying to the west of Twat, was a great centre of this 
passing trade. These desert towns of the back country 
of Algiers possessed the inestimable boon of artesian 
water. The method of obtaining it was to sink a deep 
well, of which the sides were carefully built up. This 
was carried down to the rock under which water was 
expected to be found. The rock was cut away with picks 
and axes until nothing but the thinnest layer was left. 
The workmen were then taken out of the well, and a 
great mass of iron was dropped upon the rock, which, 
giving way, the water leaped up, "sometimes with such 
force as to carry everything before it," into the receptacle 
which had been prepared, whence, overflowing, it formed 
a little stream upon the ground. Not only the artesian 
water of Twat, but also the great salt-mines of Tegazza, 
lay within the limits of the Mellestine. 

The first sovereign of Melle to accept Islam was 
Bermandana, who made the pilgrimage to Mecca — a 
custom afterwards adopted by his successors. The date 
of this pilgrimage does not appear to have been preserved, 
but it may be gathered from a list of ten kings descending 
from one of his successors, Mari Djata, to the famous 
Mansa Musa, who made the pilgrimage in 1324, that 
his conversion must have been rather before than after 
the Morabite invasion of Negroland at the end of the 
eleventh century. 

Leo Africanus, whose history, however, is not usually 


trustworthy, says that the people of Melle embraced the 
law of Mohammed when "the uncle of Joseph, King of 
Morocco" — that is, Abou Bekr, the Morabite leader — was 
then prince. He also says that the government of Melle 
remained for some time in the posterity of that prince. 
If Melle in the beginning took its rise, as Leo Africanus 
suggests, under Berber princes, it is but one instance the 
more of the profound impression made by the Morabite 
invasion upon Negroland. But there can be no doubt 
that in the days of its greatness the kings of Melle 
were black, and ousted the Berber descendants of the 
Morabites in the desert. 

In the early part of its history Melle consisted of three 
principalities claiming equal rights. The first of its kings 
who would appear to have consolidated the kingdom and 
enlarged its boundaries to any appreciable extent was 
Mari Djata, who overthrew the Su-Su and conquered 
Ghana in the early part of the thirteenth century. The 
name of Ghana from this time is no longer heard, Ghana 
being properly the title of the ruler, not the name of 
the kingdom. The country heretofore known as Ghana 
now becomes Ghanata or Walata. Mari Djata's name 
of Djata meant Lion. His hereditary title Mari was 
something less than king, confirming the theory that 
he was the first of the rulers of Melle to consolidate 
its possessions under one sovereign. He reigned for 
twenty-five years, and his descendants and successors 
are all known by the full title of Mansa, or king, the 
succession going, as in the old pagan succession of 
Ghana, in female descent, not to the king's son but to 
his sister's son. 

The pilgrimages made by these kings to Mecca are 
the dates by which we are usually able to fix the period, 
if not the exact limit, of their reigns. The son of Mari 
Djata made his pilgrimage as king in 1259. A famous 
usurper, Sakora, who greatly extended the dominions 
of Melle towards the east, made his pilgrimage in the 
year 13 10. 


Under Sakora the territories of Melle were as much 
extended in the east as they had been by the conquest 
of Ghana in the west, for he conquered Gago or Kaougha, 
the capital of Songhay, of which the site was the present 
town of Gao. This town was, at the beginning of the 
fourteenth century, the centre of a rich and important 
territory shaken for the moment by internal convulsions, 
and therefore open to conquest by a powerful neighbour. 
In the twelfth century it was described by El Idrisi as a 
"populous, unwalled, commercial and industrial town, in 
which were to be found the produce of all arts and trades 
necessary for the use of its inhabitants." Ibn Said, in 
the thirteenth century, speaks of it also with respect. It 
was throughout its history celebrated for the great quan- 
tity of gold with which its markets abounded ; it will 
be remembered that this peculiarity was noted by 
El Bekri. 

The Mohammedanism of Songhay, having presumably 
come to it by the eastern and not by the western road, 
dated from an earlier period than that of Melle and 
Ghana. The first of the Songhay kings to accept Islam 
was Za-Kosoi, whose conversion took place in 1009. The 
early kings of Songhay were all known by the title of 
'* Za," which was afterwards changed to Sonni, and at a 
later period still to Askia or Iskia. The " Zas " were 
still reigning when Songhay was conquered in the early 
years of the fourteenth century. 

Mansa Musa, the next great king of Melle, completed 
the conquests made by Sakora, and Songhay remained 
subject to Melle until about the year 1356. Although in 
its state of unwalled prosperity it fell a comparatively easy 
prey to the military strength of Melle, it is probable that 
Songhay regarded itself even at that period as possessing 
a higher civilisation than that of its conquerors. In 
including it within the territories of the Mellestine and 
causing its princes to be brought up at his own courts, 
the Sultan of Melle unconsciously played the part of one 
who takes to his hearth a slave destined eventually to 


become his master. For about fifty years Melle ruled 
Songhay. At the end of that period Songhay recovered 
its independence, and a hundred years later it reared 
upon the ruins of Melle an empire which outdid in splen- 
dour and enlightenment the most glorious epoch of the 



Mansa Musa, who completed the conquest of his pre- 
decessor Sakora, was a prince whom all historians com- 
bine to praise, celebrating his justice, piety, and enlighten- 
ment. He was the friend of white men, and entertained 
pleasant relations with the kings of Morocco and the 
Barbary coast, at whose courts, as has been mentioned, 
the Arab civilisation of Spain had already in great part 
taken refuge. He exchanged presents with them, and 
kept himself well informed of the political developments 
of their kingdoms. 

He made a celebrated pilgrimage to Mecca in the 
year 1324, of which the details, preserved by more than 
one contemporary witness, furnish an interesting illustra- 
tion of the condition of his country and the state pre- 
served by its monarchs. 

The caravan consisted on this occasion, we are told, 
of no less than sixty thousand persons, a considerable 
portion of whom constituted a military escort. The 
baggage of the caravan was carried generally by camels, 
but twelve thousand young slaves formed the personal 
retinue of Mansa Musa. All these were dressed in tunics 
of brocade or Persian silk. When he rode, five hundred 
of them marched before him, each carrying a staff of pure 
gold, which weighed sixty-two ounces. The remainder 
carried the royal baggage. 

1 he caravan was accompanied by all essential luxuries, 
including good cooks, who prepared elaborate repasts, 
not only for the king, but for the king's friends, at every 
halting-place. To defray the expenses of the journey. 


Mansa Musa took with him gold dust to the value of 
upwards of a million sterling. This was carried in eighty 
camel loads of 300 lbs. weight each. His Songhay his- 
torian says of him that, notwithstanding all this mag- 
nificence, he was not generous in the gifts which he 
made in the holy cities. Others say that, on the con- 
trary, he was so lavish in his gifts, that the large provision 
which he had made for his journey was insufficient, and 
that he had to borrow money for his return, which, as 
his credit was good, he had no difficulty in doing, and 
that the debt was afterwards punctually paid. 

He made of his pilgrimage something more than a 
religious journey to Mecca, It was also a state progress 
through his dominions. Instead of starting eastward, 
as might have been expected, he started in a westerly 
direction, going first through the conquered territory of 
Ghana to the town no longer spoken of by that name, 
but by the modern name of Walata, or Aiwalatin. On 
his way thither, at Mimah, one of the conquered towns, 
a characteristic little incident occurred. There was in 
the Sultan's train a white judge to whom he had given 
four thousand ducats to meet the expenses of the journey. 
At Mimah this white judge complained that his four 
thousand ducats had been stolen. Mansa Musa sent 
for the governor of the town, and ordered him, on pain 
of death, to produce the robber. The governor caused 
the town to be vigorously searched, but he found no 
robber, "because in that town there were none." He 
went to the house occupied by the judge and cross- 
examined the servants. A slave of the judge then 
confessed : " My master has lost nothing ; but he himself 
hid the money in this place." He showed the place to 
the governor, who took the ducats, and reported the 
circumstances to the Sultan. Mansa Musa sent for the 
judge, and, after trial, banished him to the country of 
the pagans "who eat men." He remained there, the 
historian states, for four years, at the end of which time 
the Sultan allowed him to return, not to Melle, but to 


his own native country. "The reason," it is added, "why 
the cannibals did not eat him is that he was white. They 
say that the flesh of white men is unwholesome because 
it is unripe. Black flesh alone, in their opinion, is ripe." 

The caravan proceeded from Walata by the westerly 
route northward to Twat, and here suffered a very con- 
siderable diminution by an affection of the feet which 
attacked a large portion of the caravan. This malady, 
of which no descriptive account is given, was, it is said, 
called in their language touat. There is no hint that 
it was caused by "jiggers," but the event, important 
enough to have been preserved in subsequent chronicles, 
of half a caravan incapacitated by an epidemic of the 
feet, suggests the widespread devastation of the "jigger," 
and it would be interesting, were it possible, to ascer- 
tain whether any surviving word in the Melle language 
connects touat with the destructive insect. The author 
of the Tarikh-es- Soudan says that the name of the 
oasis of Twat was bestowed upon it in consequence of 
this catastrophe. Commentators reject, however, this 
derivation of the name. 

From Twat the caravan would seem to have pursued 
the usual road to Egypt, where it camped for a time 
outside Cairo, and passed on to Mecca and Medina. 
Here Musa made a profound impression on the peoples 
of the East, who have left in their annals, says one his- 
torian, a record of his voyage, and of their astonishment 
at the magnificence of his empire. But it appears that 
he gave only 20,000 gold pieces in alms in each town, 
and in comparison with the immense extent of the terri- 
tories he governed, this was not considered munificent. 
The same author, however, mentions incidentally that 
throughout his journey, wherever he halted on a Friday, 
he built a mosque. The funds required for such a pur- 
pose, even though some of the mosques were but small, 
must have been considerable. 

At Mecca the Sultan of Melle made literary acquaint- 
ances, and persuaded the Spanish poet and architect, 


Abu Ishak, better known by the name of Toueidjen, to 
return with him, and to take up his residence at the court 
of Melle. Every kind of royal favour was afterwards, 
it is said, showered upon the family of Toueidjen, who 
established themselves permanently at Aiwalatin. The 
caravan returned from Mecca by the eastern route, and 
at Ghadames, in the desert, it was met by a certain El 
Mamer, a chief who, being at the time out of favour with 
the powers of Tunis, was anxious to conciliate Mansa 
Musa, " whose authority extended over the desert." 
Mansa Musa received him very hospitably, and took 
him also in his train to Melle. El Mamer relates how 
he and the Spanish architect travelled together in the 
royal cortege in great comfort. Precedence was given 
them over many of the native chiefs and viziers. "His 
Majesty," El Mamer says, "seemed to take pleasure in 
our conversation." And at every halting-place their table 
was provided from the royal kitchen with food and sweet- 
meats. On its way to the capital the caravan passed 
through Songhay and stopped at Kagho, where the em- 
peror caused a mosque to be built. It was apparently 
a mosque of some importance, and it was still in existence 
three hundred years later. Mansa Musa also took the 
two young sons of the Songhay monarch, by name Ali 
Kolon and Suleiman Nare, to educate at his court. 

Having thus made the complete round of his empire, 
Mansa Musa re-entered his capital and immediately em- 
ployed his Spanish architect to design for him a hall of 
audience, built after the fashion of Egyptian architecture. 
Abou Ishak, it is said, displayed all the wonders of his 
genius in the creation of "an admirable monument" which 
gave great satisfaction to the king. The hall was square 
and surmounted by a dome. It was built of stone, covered 
with plaster, and decorated with beautiful coloured ara- 
besques. It had also, we are told, two tiers of arched 
windows, of which the windows of the lower tier were 
framed in gold, plated upon wood, and the windows of 
the upper tier were framed in silver, plated upon wood. 


This hall of audience communicated by an interior door 
with the palace. In expression of his satisfaction, the 
Sultan gave Abou Ishak 12,000 mitkals of gold dust, a 
sum amounting in our money to about ;!f 8000. But to 
this, which seems to us a relatively moderate reward, 
must be added, says the historian, the high favour of the 
prince, an eminent place at court, and splendid presents 
made from time to time. 

Upon his return from this great pilgrimage, Mansa 
Musa turned his arms against Timbuctoo, and after a 
severe conflict with the Sultan of Mossi, who sacked the 
town in or about the year 1330, Musa became master, 
in 1336, of the future capital of the Soudan. This town 
offering fresh opportunity to the young architect, it was 
embellished by a royal palace and mosque. Both build- 
ings were of cut stone, and the remains of the palace exist 
at the present day, though they are now used only as a 
slaughter-house. The Great Mosque, which had a remark- 
able minaret, was afterwards rebuilt about the year 1570 
by a pious governor of Timbuctoo in obedience to advice 
from Mecca, where it was stated that the prosperity of 
Timbuctoo was closely associated with the prosperity of 
the minaret, then apparently in a dilapidated condition. 
Some portion of the old mosque still remains, and when 
Barth saw it in 1855 it was perfectly distinguishable from 
the later construction. 

The first Imaums of this mosque were all learned 
blacks, many of whom made their studies in the Uni- 
versity of Fez. One of these, Katib Moussa, who was 
a jurisconsult and very learned, had also extraordinary 
health. He lived to a great age and filled the position 
of Imaum for forty years without a single day's illness. 
Being asked to what he attributed his good health, he 
gave three simple hygienic rules, of which the last, at 
least, if not the other two, is still worthy the consideration 
of white men in West Africa. He never slept, he said, 
exposed to the night air ; he never missed anointing 
himself at night and taking a hot bath in the morning ; 
and he never went out without breakfast. 


The Great Mosque continued to be the centre of reli- 
gious Hfe in Timbuctoo until the conquest of the town by 
the Moors in 1591, while the still older Sankor6 Mosque 
was the centre of university life. A teacher of this 
mosque, who also returned with Musa from the East, 
found Timbuctoo full of black jurisconsults, whose know- 
ledge of law was greater than his own. He accordingly 
went to Fez, where he studied law for some years, and 
then returned to found a chair of law at Timbuctoo. 

In 1337, the year after Musa's conquest of Timbuctoo, 
Abou el Ha9en, the reigning monarch of Morocco, effected 
that conquest of Telem9an which has already been men- 
tioned in a previous chapter, and Mansa Musa sent a de- 
putation to congratulate him. Abou el Ha9en, on his part, 
being, it is said, "animated by a proper pride," had "adopted 
the habit of interchanging presents with all monarchs his 
equals." The King of Melle was at that time the greatest 
of the black kings, and his territories were nearest to 
Morocco. Abou el Ha^en therefore determined to send 
him a "truly royal" present of the finest products of his 
kingdom. We are not told of what it was composed, but 
we are told that he carefully chose all the objects which it 
included himself, and that he confided it to the care of a 
highly honourable chief, Ibn Ghanem, A deputation com- 
posed of the most eminent persons of the empire was 
selected to accompany it. The magnificence of the offer- 
ing, Ibn Khaldun says, was the subject of general com- 
ment, and we may draw from this circumstance our own 
inference as to the importance of the place occupied by 
Melle among the states of Africa. But the splendid gift 
never reached Mansa Musa. While it was on its way he 
died. It was delivered to his successor, who sent the 
handsome return present once before mentioned, composed 
of products of his own country all extremely rare and 
curious, and it became the habit of the sovereigns of 
Melle and Morocco to interchange presents by the medium 
of the great officials of their kingdoms. The amiable 
relations thus established between them were maintained 
by their successors for several generations. 


Durlne the reisfn of Mansa Musa the limits of the 
Mellestine were extended over the desert until they 
became practically conterminous with those of Morocco 
and the westernmost portion of the Barbary States. They 
were separated from them only by a belt of shifting sands, 
of the breadth of a three days' journey, known to the 
Arabs under the name of "El Areg," or "The Dunes," 
which, uninhabited by any peoples, stretched more or 
less continuously across the continent from the Atlantic 
to the Nile. The Mellestine had by this time become 
so important that all its towns were frequented by the 
merchants of Morocco, Barbary, and Egypt. The capital 
is described by a contemporary writer as a place of con- 
siderable extent, very populous and commercial. Numer- 
ous streams watered the cultivated lands which surrounded 
it. Merchandise from all countries was sent to it, and it 
was the meeting-place of caravans from Morocco, North 
Africa, and Egypt. The system of government and 
justice established by Musa would seem to have been 
that which animated the political existence of Melle 
during the prosperous period of its history. 

Mansa Musa himself reigned twenty-five years, and 
his death, which took place between the sending of his 
deputation to congratulate Abou el Ha^en on the conquest 
of Telem(;an in 1337 and the arrival of the return present 
of Abou el Ha^en, must have been presumably not later 
than 1339, more probably 1338. Ibn Khaldun says of 
him : " Mansa Musa was distinguished by his ability and 
by the holiness of his life. The justice of his administra- 
tion was such that the memory of it still lives." This was 
perhaps not much to say at the end of the fourteenth 
century, when he had hardly been dead for sixty years ; 
but nearly 300 years later his Songhay historian, writing 
with no bias in his favour, in the middle of the seven- 
teenth century, repeats the praise and speaks of him 
as a pious and equitable prince, unequalled for virtue or 



It was at the court of Abou el Ha9en, the conqueror of 
Telemgan, that Ibn Batuta, as we have seen, resolved in 
the year 1349 to rest from further exploration, and though, 
like Marco Polo, he wrote nothing himself, to dictate to 
his scribes a record of the voyages he had made. Inter- 
course between the sovereigns of Melle and Morocco had 
within the ten years preceding his arrival received a great 
development. The fame of Mansa Musa's journey to 
Mecca, his admirable and upright character, and the 
opening of his country to the commerce of North Africa, 
formed at the time subjects of fresh interest at the court 
of Fez. That a king so enlightened and intelligent as 
Abou el Ha9en should wish to know more of the countries 
lately opened to Moorish influence was natural, and having 
at his court a traveller so experienced as Ibn Batuta, it is 
not surprising that the idea of still further voyages should 
have been suggested to the explorer. 

Notwithstanding his intention of travelling no more, 
Ibn Batuta was, as we have already seen, infected by the 
general enthusiasm, and in 1352 he started on the journey 
which gives us, from the lips of an eye-witness, a picture 
of the court and kingdom of Melle as they existed within 
ten or fifteen years of the death of Mansa Musa. Mansa 
Musa's son had had only a short reign of four years, and 
the succession had passed to his uncle, Mansa Suleiman, 
a brother of Musa. This Suleiman reigned twenty-four 
years, and was the sovereign of Melle at the time of Ibn 
Batuta's visit. 

Ibn Batuta travelled south by the road already de- 


scribed by El Bekri, taking the westernmost branch which 
led through the "Salt City" of Tegazza. It is unnecessary 
to reproduce his description, to which allusion has been 
made in an earlier chapter. It is chietiy interesting as 
serving to prove the accuracy of El Bekri's description 
given from the reports of Spanish merchants three hundred 
years earlier, and to illustrate incidentally the continuity 
of life and tradition which left the conditions of travel 
upon the road practically unchanged after the lapse of 
so long a time. El Bekri's account, gathered from the 
experience of travellers passing over the road in 1052, 
might equally have been written by Ibn Batuta in 1352, 
and the account given by Ibn Batuta have been given by 
EI Bekri. Indeed, in one respect, Ibn Batuta's account 
carries the imagination even further back, for his descrip- 
tion of the town of Tegazza, in which the houses and the 
mosque were built of slabs of salt, recalls the description 
given by Herodotus of the salt towns of the " Land of 

The whole of these desert stopping-places lay within 
the limits assigned by Ibn Khaldun to the Mellestine. Ibn 
Batuta crossed the frontier of Melle proper at Aiwalatin, 
the capital of the old kingdom of Ghanata. But the 
Ghana of El Bekri's day had fallen low. Ibn Batuta 
found it occupied largely by Berbers, descendants of the 
IMorabites, whose degeneracy gave him cause for amaze- 
ment. Mohammedan as they called themselves, they 
had fallen into habits which scandalised him. He felt, 
as unfortunately many a white man since then has had 
sorrowful occasion to feel in similar circumstances, that 
these white men did not sustain the dignity of their race 
in the presence of the blacks by whom they were sur- 
rounded and to whose rule they bowed. 

The black viceroy who received the merchants of the 
caravan with which Ibn Batuta travelled remained seated 
while they stood before him. He spoke to them through 
an interpreter, not because he did not understand, or 
because they were not close enough for him to hear, but 


"solely to indicate his disdain for them." The experience 
stirred in Ibn Batuta such wrath that he regretted to have 
entered the country of black men who were thus ill- 
mannered, and who treated white men with so little 
respect. His disgust and indignation were for several 
days overpowering. He could hardly prevail with himself 
to continue his journey, and he had nearly resolved to 
return with the caravan with which he had come. How- 
ever, a stay of seven weeks in Aiwalatin appears to have 
modified his views. Possibly what he observed there of 
the degeneracy of the Berbers led to more sympathetic 
reflections upon the attitude assumed towards them by 
the blacks, and he determined to carry out his intention 
of travelling at least as far as the court of Melle. 

It is evident from what he says that the Berbers of 
Ghana, though Mussulmans, and observing all the religious 
customs of their faith, studying jurisprudence and theology, 
and devoting a considerable portion of their time to 
learning the Koran by heart, had to a very great extent 
assimilated themselves to the customs of the blacks. The 
domestic privacy of the Moslem was not observed, and 
they had adopted the native habit of tracing their gene- 
alogy in the female line through a maternal uncle. The 
inheritance, as with the native royal dynasties in pre- 
Mohammedan days, went to the son of a sister. This 
was a practice which, though it is known to be common 
in Negroland, Batuta says that he had never seen, except 
amongst pagan Indians in Malabar. 

The climate of Aiwalatin, Ibn Batuta says, was 
exceedingly hot. Food was abundant there, and the 
inhabitants were very prettily dressed, in clothes imported 
for the most part from Egypt. The women were beautiful, 
and, in Ibn Batuta's opinion, very superior to the men. 

He found occasion for much criticism of their domestic 
conduct, but with regard to the strictures, of which he is 
not sparing, it is possible that there may he another side. 
Mohammedan women, in the great days of the Ommeyades 
in Spain, were not confined to harems, but went unveiled, 


and enjoyed the society of men as freely as do the English 
and American women of the present day. The Moham- 
medans ol the desert may have preserved the custom of 
this freedom after it had been abandoned by the more 
cultivated Moslems of the towns, and may have felt that 
in doing so it was they, and not the orthodox, who had 
maintained the purer traditions of the faith. There is a 
hint of something of this sort in an argument which took 
place between Ibn Batuta and the leader of the caravan 
with whom he travelled — a rich man who possessed a house 
of his own in Aiwalatin. "The companionship of men 
and women in this country," urged the caravan leader, "is 
respectable and good. There is no harm attaching to it, 
and no unpleasant suspicions are aroused by this freedom 
of which you complain." But Ibn Batuta remained un- 
convinced. "I was surprised at his folly," he says, "and 
went no more to his house, though he invited me several 

From Aiwalatin to the capital of Melle was a twenty days' 
march, for which, Ibn Batuta says, it was hardly necessary 
to have a guide or companions, as the road was perfectly 
safe. He travelled himself with three companions. All 
along the road they found immense and very old trees, of 
which one would have been enough to shelter a large cara- 
van. Many of the trees had hollow trunks, in which, during 
the rains, water accumulated, and they served as cisterns for 
the passers-by. Others were much used by bees to build in, 
and men took the honey. In one a weaver had established 
his loom, and was weaving when Ibn Batuta passed. 

The country between Aiwalatin and Melle would seem 
to have been wooded and thickly interspersed with villages. 
Amongst the trees of the wooded country Ibn Batuta notes 
fruits "resembling plums, apples, peaches, and apricots, 
but not quite like them." He also notes plantains ; and 
ground nuts, of which the oil was employed for many 
purposes, formed a prevailing crop. Spices, salt, beads, 
and aromatic gums appeared to be the currency of the 
smaller villages. Everything required for a journey was 


easy to buy on the way. There was no need, Ibn 
BatLita says, to make any provision : food was plentiful, 
villages succeeded each other at short distances, and 
the inhabitants were always willing to sell anything that 
was required. 

About half-way between Ghana and Melle Ibn Batuta 
and his companions reached the large town of Zaghari, 
principally inhabited by black merchants called Ouand- 
jaratak, who remind us of the Noughaniarta mentioned 
by El Bekri, In most of the towns there was a white 
quarter — in all of them Ibn Batuta notes the presence 
of white men. Zaghari was the centre of a great corn 
country, whence millet was exported to the frontier. From 
it the party struck the Niger at the point at which Segou 
now stands. 

We get at this stage of the journey a description of 
the course of the Niger which is worth quoting. Some of 
the principal towns upon the river are first mentioned, 
including Zaghah. This town had adopted Islam, Ibn 
Batuta says, at a very early period. It had a king of its 
own who paid tribute to Melle, and its inhabitants were 
distinguished by their great zeal in the study of science. 
"From Zaghah," he continues, "the river flows down to 
Timbuctoo and Gao ; thence to Muri or Muli, a place 
which forms part of the country of the Semiyyown (or 
Cannibals) and is the most distant limit of Melle. The 
river then flows down from Muri to Nupe, one of the 
most important countries of the Soudan, whose sovereign 
is among the greatest kings of the country. No white 
man enters Nupe, because the blacks would kill him before 
he arrived there." The course of the Lower Niger, where 
the river flowed through the territories of the cannibals 
and entered the swampy districts of the coast, was wholly 
unknown to Arab geographers, and Ibn Batuta accepted 
the common theory, which supposed that the Benue was a 
continuation of the Niger, and that below Nupe the river 
turned eastward to join the Nile. 

There is a noticeable increase of respect in the tone 


adopted by the traveller as he approaches the capital of 

Quitting the Niger at Segou, "we travelled," he says, 
" towards the river Sansarah, which is about ten miles 
from Melle. The custom is to forbid the entrance of 
Melle to any one who has not obtained permission, 
but I had written beforehand to some of the principal 
personages in the white community of Melle to en- 
gage a house for me, and no objection was made to my 

He went at once to the white quarter of the town, 
and found that one of his friends who was a lawyer had 
hired a house for him just opposite to his own. Ibn Batuta 
took possession of the house without delay. Food and 
wax candles were supplied to him, and on the following 
day he received visits from distinguished persons, of 
whom he subjoins a list. Amongst these there were 
men of letters, lawyers, jurisconsults. One black judge is 
specially mentioned as a man of merit, "adorned with most 
noble qualities." The royal herald Dougha, also a " black 
of great distinction," and holding one of the principal 
positions at court, was among his early visitors. These 
men and others all sent him presents and compliments, 
and caused him to feel at once that in the capital of the 
kingdom he was treated with the consideration which was 
his due. 

The reigning king was somewhat miserly, and seldom 
gave presents of any value. He at first paid no attention 
to the arrival of the distinguished traveller, but during 
the period of Ibn Batuta's stay in the town the sorrowful 
news was received of the death of the Sultan of Morocco, 
Abou el Ha9en. The king on that occasion gave a 
"banquet of condolence," and Ibn Batuta was invited. 
The governors, the jurisconsults, the judge, and the prin- 
cipal preacher of the mosque, are mentioned as being 
present. Caskets containing chapters of the Koran were 
^pjarently taken by the guests, and the entire Koran 
was rei?.^ through on the occasion. Prayers were offered 


for the soul of Abou el Ha9en, that the Almighty might 
have mercy upon him. Prayers were also offered for Mansa 

It was after this ceremony that Ibn Batuta was first 
presented to the sovereign, who received him with a 
gravity befitting the occasion. A purely formal " gift of 
hospitality " was subsequently sent to him, which consisted 
only of meat and bread, and for two months he had no 
further private audience of the sovereign. He, however, 
continued to attend the public audiences, of which he 
describes the ceremonial in some detail. They were held 
sometimes in the Hall of Audience, designed by Mansa 
Musa's Spanish architect ; sometimes outside in the Place 
of Audience, an enclosed square upon which the palace 
opened, and which was approached from the town by a wide 
and long boulevard, planted with trees. Whether they were 
held indoors or in the open air, a very strict and pompous 
ceremonial was observed. The boulevard was lined by 
detachments of soldiers armed with bows and lances, each 
detachment having its own commandant and military 
band. The bands were composed of drums and trumpets, 
horns made of ivory, and other instruments made with 
reeds and gourds, which gave a "most agreeable sound." 
The commandants were mounted, and armed with bows 
and arrows, each bearing a quiver full of arrows at his 
back, and carrying his bow in his hand. The soldiers were 
some on foot and some mounted. The general public, 
and all persons who had business to lay before the 
Sultan, waited in this boulevard. On occasions when 
the Sultan held his audience within the hall, the square 
outside was occupied by 300 servants of the palace, who 
stood to left and right in double rows, the front row 
seated on the ground armed with little shields and short 
spears, the back row standing and armed with bows and 

No one entered the Hall of Audience itself till the 
curtains of the windows, which were usually kept closed, 
were, on the entrance of the Sultan, drawn back. At the 


same time a handkerchief or Httle banner was waved, which 
served as a signal to the public, and there was a burst of 
music from the bands. Then on receiving the summons of 
the King, certain officials, including the military governor, 
the preacher, and the jurisconsults, took their places in 
the Hall of Audience, seating themselves to left and right 
before the King's arm-bearers, and the royal herald or inter- 
preter placed himself in the doorway. This official was a 
personage of the greatest importance. He was "superbly 
dressed " in stuff of the finest silk, with a very handsome 
turban. He was booted and spurred, and wore hanging 
from his neck a sword in a gold scabbard. In each hand 
he carried a short spear, one of gold and one of silver, 
tipped with iron. Any one who had a cause to present 
then approached the open door and laid their case before 
the herald. He in turn repeated it to the lieutenant of 
the King, and this official repeated it to the King. 

When the audience was held outside, a throne was 
erected for the King on a platform under a great tree in 
the square. The platform, which was approached by 
three steps, was covered with silk and cushions, and over 
it an immense silken umbrella "resembling a dome" was 
opened, on the summit of which perched a large golden 

The Sultan, preceded by his own private band, then 
issued in state from the palace. His band was composed 
of singers who accompanied themselves upon gold and 
silver instruments, of which the native name was a word 
signifying "larks." The band marched first. Then came 
the Sultan, dressed usually in red velvet with a golden 
helmet upon his head, a bow in his hand, a quiver full of 
arrows slung across his back. Behind him marched 300 
armed slaves. The Sultan walked slowly. When he 
reached the platform, his custom was to pause to look 
at the public, and then very slowly to mount the platform 
" as a preacher mounts the pulpit." As he took his seat 
the military bands broke out, and the same ceremony was 
then observed as for the other audiences. 


On occasions of public festivities these ceremonials 
were immensely increased, the whole crowd wearinc,^ 
only fine white clothes, public prayers and thanksgivings 
being offered up, and magnificent gifts presented by 
subjects to the Sultan and by the Sultan to subjects 
whom he wished to honour. On the breaking of the 
fast of the Ramadan, it was the custom to present 
arms to the Sultan in a more literal sense than that 
usually conveyed by the term ; and on the occasion of 
that ceremony when Ibn Batuta was present, "squires" 
offered to the Sultan for his acceptance arms which 
are described as "magnificent." "They were," Ibn 
Batuta says, "swords ornamented in gold, with scab- 
bards of the precious metal ; spears of gold and silver ; 
quivers made of gold and silver ; and clubs made of 
crystal." On these occasions there were dramatic dis- 
plays, including dancing, fencing, and gymnastic per- 
formances, which Ibn Batuta, having experience of 
similar performances in India, declared to be extremely 
good. There were also poetic recitations of an apparently 
comic kind. 

Poets wearing masks and dressed like birds were 
allowed to speak their opinion to the monarch. Ibn 
Batuta states that this practice was of great antiquity, 
long anterior to the introduction of Islam amongst these 
people. The description which he gives in some detail 
can hardly fail to recall similar practices inherited from 
the Tezcucans by the Aztecs, who in nearly the same 
latitude on the American continent were at this very 
moment, in the middle of the fourteenth century, making 
good their position upon the Mexican plateau.^ Ibn 

^ See likeness to Aztec performance at contemporary date. Prescott, in his 
account of Aztec literature and civilisation previous to the conquest of Mexico 
by the Spaniards, says : " They are said to have had also something like 
theatrical exhibitions of a pantomimic sort, in which the faces of the per- 
formers were covered with masks, and the figures of birds or animals were 
frequently represented." — Conquest of Mexico^ vol. i. p. 98. 

For a fuller account of these mummeries Prescott refers his readers to 
Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 30 ; and also Clavigero, Stor-del-Messico. See also for Aztec 
customs, Toribio, Hist, de los Indios, MS., parte 3, cap. 7. 


Batuta also notices with censure the extreme servility which 
the Sultan of Melle exacted from the nobles and others 
by whom he was surrounded, and here, too, there is a 
resemblance to Aztec manners which is striking. "When 
the Sultan, seated in the Hall of Audience, calls any 
one before him," says Ibn Batuta, "the person sum- 
moned immediately divests himself of his fine clothes, 
puts on shabby garments, and, taking off his turban, 
covers his head with a dirty cap. He then enters the 
presence barefooted, with his trousers rolled half-way 
up his legs, listens with an air of profound submission 
to what the Sultan has to say, and covers his head and 
shoulders with dust, exactly as one might do who was 
performing his ablutions with water." Ibn Batuta's com- 
mentator, Ibn Djozay, adds to this passage a note to the 
effect that the Secretary of State, who was present when 
Mansa Musa's ambassadors were received at Fez by 
Abou el Ha9en, told him that on all state occasions, 
when the ambassador had audience of the Moorish 
Sultan, he was accompanied by an attendant carrying 
a basket of dust, and every time that the Sultan said 
something gracious to him he covered himself with dust. 
Prescott, in describing the ceremonial of the court of 
Montezuma, the Aztec Emperor of Mexico, at the time of 
the Spanish conquest, says that when ambassadors from 
foreign states were introduced, "whatever their rank, 
unless they were of blood royal, they were obliged to 
submit to the humiliation of shrouding their rich dress 
under the coarse mantle of nequen, and entering barefoot, 
with downcast eyes, into the presence." This custom of 
taking off the sandals and covering fine clothes with a 
mantle of the coarsest stuff which was made in Mexico, 
was imposed equally on all the nobility of Montezuma's 
capital. The Mexican's mode of obeisance was not to 
throw dust upon the head, but, bowing to the earth, to 
touch it with the right hand. The Aztecs were, it will 
be remembered, though not negroes, a dusky or copper- 


coloured race, apparently of the tint which Earth describes 
as that of the "red races" of the Soudan. They had 
other customs which correspond to those of the Soudanese. 
The Aztec crown was transmitted, like that of Melle, in 
collateral descent, though in both kingdoms exceptions to 
the rule occurred. The practice of keeping the sons of 
subject princes as a sort of honourable hostage at the 
court of the monarch was perhaps too general to be 
worthy of special note, though it also was common to 
the two peoples. The more terrible custom of propitiating 
the gods with human sacrifice which was so extensively 
practised by the Aztecs, was, it will be remembered, only 
the other day brought to an end under British rule in 
Benin, and is probably still practised in less accessible 
portions of the pagan belt. Such heathen rites were, of 
course, unknown in the Mohammedan Melle of the thir- 
teenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. The custom 
of wearing the heads of animals as a head-dress, which 
was also common to the Aztecs, was preserved amongst 
the pagans of the West African coast at the time of 
the first occupation of the Gold Coast by the Portuguese 
in 1 48 1. 

On festive occasions the servants of the rich at Melle 
would seem to have worn livery. The royal herald 
Dougha's thirty servants are mentioned as being all 
dressed in red cloth, with white caps. Music evidently 
formed a prominent part of every entertainment. The 
women are described as wearing pretty clothes, and 
having their hair dressed with bands of gold and 

We get an indication of social etiquette from the 
experience of Batuta. The treatment which he had re- 
ceived from the Sultan was not considered by his friends 
to be sufficiently honourable, and about two months after 
his arrival in Melle he was presented a second time. 
This was done on the advice of the herald, Dougha, who 
told the traveller that he must rise and call attention to 


himself at one of the public audiences, and promised when 
he did so to explain matters. 

Accordingly, Ibn Batuta rose at the audience and said : 
" Surely I have travelled in the different countries of the 
world, and I have known their kings ; but I have been 
in your country four months, and you have not treated 
me as a guest. What shall I say of you to the other 
kings ? " 

The Sultan replied : ''I have not seen you, nor 
known you." Then the judge and other important 
persons rose and said : " He has already saluted you, 
and you have sent him food ! " After this the Sultan 
ordered him to be lodged at his expense, and on the 
distribution of gifts at the end of Ramadan did not 
forget him. 

The customs of the town were very devout. Prayer 
was regularly said in private houses. There was a 
cathedral mo.sque to which all fashionable people went 
on Fridays, and it was habitually so crowded that the 
worshipper who was late could find no place. The prac- 
tice of the rich was to send their slaves in good time to 
spread their seat in the place to which they considered 
themselves to have a right, and the slaves kept the place 
till the master arrived. 

At this mosque one Friday Ibn Batuta had the 
pleasure of seeing vengeance fall on the head of one of 
the black officials of Aivvalatin, who had so offended 
him on his first crossing the frontier of Melle. " I was," 
he said, " taking part in the prayers, when a Berber 
merchant, also a student and a man of letters, rose and 
cried : ' Oh, you who are present in this mosque, be 
my witnesses that I accuse Mansa Suleiman ' (the Sultan), 
'and I cite him before the tribunal of God's envoy, 
Mohammed.' Immediately there came from the Sultan's 
grated gallery messengers who approached the com- 
plainant, and asked : ' Who has committed an injustice ? 
Who has taken anything from you.-*' He replied: 
' Mancha Djou, the governor of Aiwalatin, has taken from 


me goods worth 600 ducats and he has given me in com- 
pensation only 100 ducats.'" 

The result of the incident was the arrest of the 
governor of Aiwalatin, who was brought to the capital, 
and having been tried before the regular tribunal, was 
found guilty. The merchant recovered his money, and 
the governor was deprived of his functions. 



I HAVE lingered, perhaps, too long over the personal 
experiences of Ibn Batuta in Melle, but they serve to 
illustrate, as a drier chronicle of historic events might fail 
to do, the actual life of the town and the degree of 
civilisation which had been reached. 

Politically, as we have seen, the Empire of Melle was 
divided into Melle proper and the Protectorate, which 
extended into the desert until it met the boundaries of 
the civilised states of the north and west. The empire 
would appear to have been further divided into provinces, 
each ruled by a " Ferba " or viceroy of the sovereign, 
while each town had its "Mochrif" or inspector, who 
was responsible to the viceroy for the maintenance of 
order, the suppression of crime, and, presumably, for the 
collection of the taxes. 

The "Ferba" is spoken of by Ibn Batuta as the 
viceroy of the Sultan, but there existed another dignitary, 
known as the " Koi," who was apparently a native and 
subject king, not dispossessed, but holding his possessions 
as tributary to Melle. In some instances, he would seem 
to have been confirmed by Melle in the occupation of an 
old position ; in others, he was apparently appointed by the 
Sult^in. In speaking of the Timbuctoo Koi, a little later, 
at the beginning of the fifteenth century, the author of 
the Tarikh-es-Soudan says that it was customary for the 
Koi to receive one-third of the total taxes, and that in Tim- 
buctoo he had all administrative and financial powers in his 
hands. It is evident that if the Kols were petty native 
kings, who, on submission to the Sultan of Melle, were by 


him confirmed during good behaviour in certain powers, 
and on occasion superseded by his appointment, it would 
be necessary to make some fairly ample provision for their 
revenues. A certain semi-independence on their part 
would seem to be argued by the fact that when the 
Tuaregs took Timbuctoo from Melle in 1434, they con- 
firmed the existing Timbuctoo Koi in his powers. At 
one time there were thirty-six Kois in the empire of 
Melle. As the empire extended it is probable that their 
number may have increased, and, at a later period, as the 
central government weakened, the power and self-assertion 
of the Kois grew, and contributed, doubtless, to the dis- 
ruption of the empire. 

Unfortunately, though the finances of the country in 
the middle of the fourteenth century would appear to have 
been flourishing, no special accounts have been left to 
us of the revenue or system of taxation. We can only 
assume from incidental allusions that taxation continued 
to be based, as in the kingdom of Ghana, on a system 
of royalties on minerals and taxes on foreign merchandise. 
We hear of the great wealth of the country and of the 
kings, but we get no hint from Batuta of taxation which 
was felt to be oppressive by the people. He mentions 
that Mansa Suleiman was unpopular because of his avarice, 
but this would appear to apply rather to his personal 
thriftiness than to any system of government. A narrative 
which abounds in anecdote, and is not animated by any 
sentiment of friendliness for the government, would have 
been likely to incorporate any instance of oppression which 
reached the author's ears. But, after a residence of several 
months in the country, Ibn Batuta not only brings forward 
none ; his evidence is given in a contrary direction. 

The judicial system of the country, though not de- 
scribed in detail, would seem to have been carefully and 
fully organised. The frequent reference which is made 
in all chronicles to judges, black and white, to lawyers 
and jurisconsults, indicates that men of this profession 
occupied a very prominent position in the social organisa- 


tion of the country. The fact that it was the custom of 
the Suhan to send cases in which he was appealed to 
for justice, to be tried at the " proper tribunal," would 
seem also to indicate a severance of the executive and 
judicial powers which it is the habit of civilisation to 
regard as one of the guarantees of justice. But the con- 
dition of the country itself is, perhaps, the best testimony 
which can be borne to the efficacy of the system by which 
crime was punished and repressed. Amongst the admirable 
things which Ibn Batuta feels it to be his duty to praise, 
when, at the end of his visit, he summarises his opinion of 
the people of Melle, is, he says, the rare occurrence of acts 
of injustice in the country. " Of all people," he thinks 
that " the blacks are those who most detest injustice. 
Their Sultan never forgives any one who has been guilty 
of it." He also praises the "complete and general safety 
which is enjoyed in the country. Neither those who travel 
nor those who remain at home have anything to fear from 
brigands, thieves, or violent persons." " The blacks do 
not," he says, " confiscate the goods of white men who die 
in the country, even though it may be a question of 
immense treasure. On the contrary, their goods are 
always placed in charge of some white man, trusted by the 
community, until those who have a right to them can apply 
and take possession of them." 

The organisation of the Church was orthodox, every 
town having its mosque or mosques with salaried readers 
and teachers ; and in the principal towns, such as Melle, 
Timbuctoo, and Gago, mention is made of a "Cathedral 
Mosque." Schools are mentioned in many towns, and 
some, as in Zaghah, are specially spoken of as centres of 
distinguished learning. Ibn Batuta mentions with praise 
the religious assiduity of the people — the custom of cele- 
brating regular prayer, not only in the public mosques, but 
in private meetings of the faithful — and the care with 
which children were brought up to observe similar practices. 
All educated children were expected to learn the Koran, 
and were either whipped or had fetters placed upon their 


feet when they were negligent in doing so. In the house 
of the principal judge he one day saw all the children 
chained up, and was told that it was a punishment for not 
having learned their Koran. On another occasion he 
saw a magnificent young black, superbly dressed, who 
had shackles on his feet, and on inquiring whether he had 
committed a crime, was told laughingly that he was only 
being forced to learn his Koran. The principal preacher 
of the cathedral mosque and the principal judge of the 
town of Melle were constantly in the presence of the 
sovereign, and would seem to have occupied a recognised 
position as ministers and the heads of their respective 

The army, which is spoken of as very large, was an 
organised military force, composed partly of cavalry and 
partly of infantry, armed with bows and arrows, swords, 
and long and short spears. It was divided into units, each 
commanded by a captain or commandant, and it is interest- 
ing to note in relation to the appointment of these com- 
mandants that it was the custom, on the occasion of their 
selection for command, for the viceroy or governor of the 
town to cause the new commandant to be placed upon a 
shield and raised above the heads of the soldiers in exactly 
the same manner as was common in Northern Europe. 
It will be remembered that the Merovingian and Carlo- 
vingian kings were always raised on a shield as part of 
the ceremony of their enthronement, and as late as the 
Latin Conquest of Constantinople in 1204, when Baldwin 
of Flanders was elected Emperor of the East, he was, we 
are told, raised upon the buckler by the hands of his rival 
candidate. The smaller military units led by the com- 
mandants were apparently grouped into a larger formation, 
which in its turn was commanded by a military chief or 
general, and these larger formations were again united into 
two divisions, one forming the army of the south, and the 
other of the north. The two generals-in-chief command- 
ing these divisions were very high personages, who occa- 
sionally gave to the reigning sovereign all that he could do 



to keep them in order. The strength of the army of Melle 
receives indirect testimony from the fact that Jenne, a 
territory which, though lying within the Hmits of the 
Mellestine and paying tribute to Melle, had its own king, 
and was never conquered until 1468, thought it necessary, 
in order to preserve the much-cherished independence of 
its town, to keep no less than twelve army corps always 
on foot charged solely with the duty of watching the 
military movements of Melle and of guarding against any 
approach of the Melle troops which was not authorised 
by the king. 

Beyond the general indication that the country was 
fertile, cultivated, and very populous, Ibn Batuta gives 
no satisfactory account of its agriculture nor of the num- 
bers of its population. Other writers dwell, however, 
on the fact that it was rich in cattle, corn, and cotton, 
which last was exchanged freely in its markets for the 
woollen cloth of Europe. That it was very populous 
may be inferred from a fact mentioned by the author of 
the Tarikh-es-Soudan in relation to Jenne, through whose 
territory Ibn Batuta travelled without mentioning that 
it was more populous than any other portion of the 
country. The territory of Jenne extended for a journey 
of several days. If the king, it is said, desired to send 
a message, though it might be to the farthest limits of 
the territory, the royal messenger simply mounted upon 
the rampart near one of the gates of the town and called 
aloud the message with which he was charged. The people 
from village to village repeated the call, and it was delivered 
in the farthest village to the individual to whom it was 
addressed. This custom not only illustrates the density 
of population in a country in which it could be practised, 
but it also suggests an explanation of the extraordinary 
rapidity with which news is even now sometimes trans- 
mitted among natives in countries where no mechanical 
means for the purpose exist. A message so delivered 
from voice to voice might pass with almost the rapidity 
of a telegram, and doubtless the calling of royal messages 


was not left to the chance of any hearer. There must 
have been an organised system of pubHc criers to make 
the practice effective. Of this, however, no indication 
appears to exist, and it would be interesting if light could 
be thrown upon the subject. 

Ibn Batuta is equally unsatisfactory on the subject of 
the trade of Melle. Though he travelled with a caravan 
of merchants, he tells us nothing that is interesting upon 
the subject, and we are left to learn from other sources 
the great importance which it had assumed. All European 
goods, it would seem, were welcomed in the markets of 
the Mellestine, and were paid for apparently in gold, 
cotton, slaves, ivory, skins, and kola-nuts. A good deal 
of corn would seem to have been exported to the frontier, 
but presumably this was destined rather for the towns 
of the desert than for Europe. At a somewhat later 
period the trade in "written books" from Barbary was 
said to be one of the most profitable. Ibn Batuta men- 
tions an interesting copy of a book called "The Mar- 
vellous," ^ which was lent to him by one of his many hosts, 
in a place of which he had forgotten the name, and there 
must already in his day have existed a very considerable 
demand to satisfy the needs of the many schools which 
are mentioned. When the King of Jenne, somewhat 
later, at the end of the twelfth century, adopted Islam, 
and desired that all the Ulemas of his territory should 
be present at his abjuration of the gods of paganism, 
they assembled to the number of 4200. If the relatively 
small territory of Jenne produced so large a number, it is 
evident persons of some degree of Mohammedan learning 
must have been numerous in the countries of the Soudan. 
There can be no doubt that gold abounded with which 
to pay for all desired luxuries. In the market of Gago 
it is said that the inhabitants frequently brought in more 
gold than they could exchange for commodities. All 
travellers allude to the golden arms and utensils frequently 

^ Perhaps " The Choice of Marvels," composed at Mossul by a writer of 
Granada in 1160, a copy of which FeHx Dubois found at Timbuctoo. 


used by persons of importance. This perpetual testimony 
to the quantity of gold in the country begins, it may be 
remembered, in the eighth century, when, according 
to Abd el Hakem, the first military expedition of the 
Arabs brought back " all the gold it wanted," and con- 
tinues through the testimony of El Bekri in the eleventh 
century, El Idrisi in the twelfth, and all subsequent writers 
of the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth 
centuries, up to the moment of the overthrow of native 
independence by the Moors in the conquest of 1591. 
Allusions to the cotton trade are scarcely less constant, 
though less prominent and less important, and there must 
have been a considerable local consumption. Ibn Batuta 
mentions amongst the good qualities which he ascribes 
to the blacks of Melle, that they never failed to dress 
in fine white robes on Friday, and the dressing of many 
millions of persons must have needed a large supply. 

The other never-failing supply of wealth which would 
seem to have persisted throughout the history of the 
Soudan was the slave labour raided from the pagan belt 
to the south. The attitude of the Mohammedan black 
towards those people seems to have been almost identical 
with that of the Spaniards towards the natives of the 
New World, They were idolatrous, and had no rights. 
Probably the occupation of raiding the little known and 
unhealthy regions of the pagan belt gave occupation in 
times of peace for the immense armies which were kept 
on foot. But, beyond the actual cruelty of the raid, the 
slave does not appear to have been badly treated. He 
served in the armies of the conquerors and performed 
the duties of the house and farm. He seems to have 
received little more consideration than a domestic animal, 
but he does not appear to have been persecuted. All 
rich people in Melle were proud of possessing a very 
large number of slaves. Ibn Batuta mentions that he 
gave twenty-five ducats for a good woman slave, but the 
price of the ordinary slave was much less. In the sixteenth 
century Leo Africanus mentions that the price of a Barbary 


horse in Bornu was fifteen slaves. In Ibn Batuta's day a 
Barbary horse cost one hundred ducats at Melle ; but no 
deductions can be legitimately drawn from these two facts 
as to the money value of the ordinary slave. 

The vast body of slaves no doubt represented the 
labour power of the country, and that they existed within 
its boundaries without disturbance and without the multi- 
plication of crime, if it says much for the organisation 
and the administration of justice, says also something for 
the manner in which they were treated. 

After a stay of several months in the capital of Melle, 
Ibn Batuta visited some of the minor towns, in most of 
which he mentions the black governor with respect, and 
in nearly all of them received hospitality from " persons 
of merit " who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. 

Amongst these minor towns he mentions Timbuctoo, 
which was still far from the height of its fame. He 
disposes of it in a sentence, as a town situated at a dis- 
tance of four leagues from the Niger, and occupied chiefly 
by Berbers. It was here that he witnessed, on the occa- 
sion of the appointment of the captain of a troop, the 
ceremony of lifting him on a shield above the heads 
of his men. He mentions incidentally that this captain 
was a Berber. Berbers and blacks seemed to enjoy at 
the time perfect equality throughout the kingdom — all 
being alike Mohammedan. The only class distinction 
seemed to be idolater or orthodox, slave or free. He 
does not mention either the mosque or palace of Tim- 
buctoo, though as they were at the time of his visit only 
fifteen years old, and as we know from previous and sub- 
sequent descriptions that they were handsome buildings 
of cut stone, they might have been expected to attract 
his attention. He does, however, mention the tombs of 
several distinguished persons, amongst them that of the 
young poet and architect from Granada who designed the 
mosque, and who had not lived long to enjoy the favour 
of his black patrons, the monarchs of Melle. 

From Timbuctoo Ibn Batuta, having evidently resolved 



to see the whole of the Mellestine, travelled eastward by 
water to Gago. On the way, amongst other incidents of 
travel, he made the acquaintance of the black governor, 
who lent him the book already alluded to, who spoke 
Arabic fluently, who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca, 
and who impressed him as "one of the best and most 
generous of men." In the cordial expression of the 
respect and sympathy awakened in his mind by friendly 
intercourse with this and other black dignitaries of the 
kingdom of Melle, it becomes clear how greatly he had 
modified his opinion with regard to the inhabitants of the 
Soudan since he first crossed the frontier at Aiwalatin. 

He remained a month at Gago, the capital of Songhay, 
which he describes as " one of the finest cities of the 
blacks." It evidently occupied in his estimation a far 
higher position than Timbuctoo. It was, he said, one of 
the largest and one of the best-supplied towns in the 
Soudan. Food was very plentiful, especially rice, milk, 
fowls, fish, and he mentions a particular kind of cucumber, 
which he held to be "unequalled.' The currency amongst 
the natives in the market both here and at Melle was still 
in cowries. He mentions a " white man's mosque," and 
gives a list of distinguished persons from whom he received 
attentions and hospitality. 

Gago and Aiwalatin were evidently regarded as the 
extreme limits east and west of Melle proper. The 
authority of INIelle was respected vaguely to the south in 
the country of the cannibals and amongst other minor 
kingdoms of some importance, which are confusingly 
enumerated under different names by different authors. 
Amongst these Mossi was one of consequence enough 
to inflict very heavy blows upon Melle itself at a later 
date. Borgu was another which had preserved its inde- 
pendence from a period of great antiquity. Nupe, on 
the opposite bank of the river, was, as we have seen, also 
an independent native state of importance, though practi- 
cally unknown to the Mohammedans of the West. Melle, 
however, never extended beyond the limits of the Niger 


in the East. Haussaland and Bornu drew their civiHsation 
more directly from Eastern sources, and belong to another 
chapter of history, with which we have yet to deal. 

The Mellestine took a wider extension as it spread 
north into the desert, and Tekadda, which is on nearly the 
same parallel as Aiwalatin, may perhaps be taken as 
forming, at the end of the fourteenth century, its most 
easterly development in the desert. Here, as will be 
seen, the frontier of the Mellestine trenched upon the 
territory of Gober and the Haussa States, and the autho- 
rity claimed over Tekadda was at a future period the 
cause of the friction. 

Ibn Batuta, who confined his journey entirely to the 
Mellestine, went from Gago north-eastward to Tekadda, 
where he gives some description of the copper mines. At 
Tekadda he received an order from the new Sultan of 
Morocco, who had succeeded Abou el Ha^en, to return 
to court and give an account of his wanderings. He 
turned his steps north-westward, abandoning the Tripoli- 
Fezzan road where it branched off towards Ghat, and 
made his way with a friendly caravan to Touat, thus 
reversing the road which the Emperor Musa had followed 
on his famous pilgrimage. From Touat the road to 
Sidjilmessa and Fez was easy, except for the incident 
of a very heavy snowstorm which overtook the caravan 
shortly after leaving Sidjilmessa ; and having seen 
practically the whole of the black empire, which at first 
he so much despised as to have been tempted to turn 
back on the frontier, Ibn Batuta re-entered Fez in the 
early days of January 1354. 

The curiosity which his travels excited at the court 
of Fez was, it is said, so great that the Sultan himself 
wished to hear his adventures, and after listening to him 
for several consecutive nights, ordered that the whole 
should be drawn up and made into a book. This was 
done, and the account, as it now exists, was finished on 
December 13, 1355. 

This may be regarded as the period at which Melle 


reached its greatest prosperity. Mansa Suleiman reigned 
for twenty- four years, but he was succeeded by Mansa 
Djata, a vicious tyrant, during whose reign of fourteen 
years the decadence of the kingdom began. Mansa Djata, 
far from practising the frugality of his ancestors, had a 
passion for expenditure which he carried to madness. He 
spent, it is said, in every kind of folly and debauchery, 
the immense wealth which had been amassed by the kings 
his predecessors. It was this king who sold the famous 
nugget which was regarded, we are told, as one of the 
rarest of the public treasures. He died finally of sleeping- 
sickness. Ibn Khaldun describes the malady as being 
very common in the country, but as this is the first instance 
which we have of it historically, the symptoms as then 
recognised are perhaps worth noting. It was specially 
apt, Ibn Khaldun says, to attack the upper classes of the 
people. It began by periodic attacks, and finally brought 
the patient to such a state that he could not remain awake 
for a moment. It then declared itself permanently, and 
ended sooner or later in death. The King Djata suffered 
for two years from periodic attacks before he died in 


This was practically the end of the kingdom of Melle. 
The Songhay kingdom had already asserted its inde- 
pendence in 1355, within two years of Ibn Batuta's visit. 
The Tuaregs took Timbuctoo in 1434. In 1468 the 
overthrow of the empire was begun by Sonni Ali, the 
Songhay precursor of the great dynasty of the Askias, 
and the conquest of Melle by the Songhays was com- 
pleted in a twelve years' war carried on by Askia the 
Great, from 1501 to 1513. It is interesting to note that 
in this very year, 15 13, a map was published in Strasburg 
in which the kingdom of Melle appears under the title of 
Regnum Musa Melle de Ginovia. 



It has been said that civiHsation flowed to the Soudan 
from two sources. There was a civilisation of the East, 
and a civiHsation of the West. The two streams flowed 
in from different ends of the country, and there was a 
point at which they met and overlapped. We have now 
come to that very interesting point. 

We have seen in the fall of Ghana under Mohammedan 
influence the final extinction at its most westerly limit of 
an order of civilisation which belonged to a different epoch 
of the world's history. It is probable that the civilisation 
of Ghana may have drawn its original inspiration also from 
the East. But historical documents are wanting. The 
care of students has not been devoted to this point, or 
if it has, the results of their labours have been unfortu- 
nately lost in the many holocausts made by ignorant 
conquerors of learned libraries. The Christians dis- 
tinguished themselves in Spain by destroying Arab 
libraries wherever they conquered Arab towns, and at a 
later period their example was unhappily imitated in the 
Soudan by Moors and Fulahs in relation to the docu- 
ments of local learning. 

Hence of the antique civilisation which preceded that 
of the Middle Ages under the Tropic of Cancer in West 
Africa we know but little. What we know either by 
document or direct tradition is first connected with the 
rise of the Songhay people, and it is at a point farther 
east than Ghana, and at a period subsequent to the 
Mohammedan domination of that town, that the advancing 


waves of West and East may be discerned as clearly meet- 
ing each other in the Soudan. In the shock and amalga- 
mation of the two forces, black civilisation attained the 
greatest height which it has ever reached in modern 
Africa. The gentle nature of the Soudanese black, 
inoculated with intellectual germs from a long for- 
gotten civilisation, would seem to have allied itself in 
the Songhay race with the virility of the Arab, and 
a result was produced unlike anything which the world 
had seen. 

The sixteenth century, so full of interest to contem- 
porary Europe, was the period of fulfilment of this 
development. The halcyon days of the modern Song- 
hay Empire lay between the years 1492 and 1592. The 
rise of the Songhay people dates, however, from a 
much earlier period. Though in the order of the great 
kingdoms of the Soudan as they came into touch with 
the outer world Songhay succeeds to Melle, it was as a 
matter of fact a far older kingdom. The first true chapter 
of its history, though lost to us, had been lived in the 
aspiration and the efforts of its people, and had resulted 
in its own conquest, long before modern influences had 
reached it, of a level of civilisation higher than that of 
any of the surrounding countries. 

Hitherto we have taken the historians of the Western 
Arabs for our principal guides. In opening this new 
chapter of the history of the Soudan we abandon them 
and turn to local literature. From this point onward the 
Soudan has its own historians. Chief amongst them in 
regard to the history of Songhay is the author of the 
TarikJi-es-So2idan, or " History of the Soudan," which has 
within the last few years been translated into French by 
M. Houdas, the eminent French Professor of the Oriental 
School of Languages. The book is a wonderful docu- 
ment, of which the narrative dealing mainly with the 
modern history of the Songhay Empire relates the rise 
of this black civilisation through the fifteenth and sixteenth 


centuries, and its decadence up to the middle of the seven- 
teenth century, Barth, who obtained some fragments of 
an Arabic copy when he was on his way to Timbuctoo, 
goes so far as to say that the book forms " one of the most 
important additions that the present age has made to the 
history of mankind." But it is not merely an authentic 
narrative. It is for the unconscious Hght which it sheds 
upon the life, manners, politics, and literature of the 
country that it is valuable. Above all it possesses the 
crowning quality, displayed usually in creative poetry 
alone, of presenting a vivid picture of the character of 
the men with whom it deals. It has been called the 
"Epic of the Soudan." It lacks the charm of form, but 
in all else the description is well merited. Its pages 
are a treasure-house of information for the careful student,, 
and the volume may be read many times without extract- 
ing from them more than a small part of all that they 

Its chief author, Abdurrahman Es-sadi, was a black of 
Timbuctoo, who was born in that town in the year 1596. 
He came of learned and distinguished ancestors, and his 
genealogy is interesting because he united in his own 
person three of the most important strains of blood in 
the Soudan. His mother was a Haussa woman. His 
great-great-grandfather, he tells us, was the first white — 
that is, Berber — Imaum of Mansa Musa's mosque, and 
succeeded that Katib Moussa whose remarkable longevity 
and health were mentioned in a previous chapter. This 
ancestor married a Fulani woman, and from the combina- 
tion of Berber and Fulani blood his father was descended 
on the maternal side. Es-sadi was himself Imaum of the 
university mosque in Timbuctoo, but he also exercised 
the functions of a notary at Jenn^, where he would seem 
generally to have lived. In this capacity he was frequently 
called upon to prepare state papers. He was also entrusted 
on various occasions with public missions, and seems to 
have had very special opportunities for acquiring informa- 


tion. He first relates as an historian the history of the 
country up to the period of his own manhood, and from 
that time continues to write as a contemporary of the 
events which he records up to the year 1656, when pre- 
sumably he died. But a great part of the charm of the 
Tarikh consists in the fact that it is not the work of one 
hand alone. Nor is it always easy to distinguish when 
Es-sadi has ceased to write and has given place to some 
other distinguished contemporary. Among those whose 
chronicles are thus incorporated with his own is Ahmed 
Baba, the well-known historian of the Soudan, who at the 
period of the overthrow of the Songhay Empire by the 
Moors was carried as a captive into Morocco, but was 
so profoundly respected there for his learning and philo- 
sophical demeanour that he was allowed in 1607 to 
return to Timbuctoo, where he died twenty years later. 
Though an older man than Es-sadi, Ahmed Baba was 
writing in Es-sadi's lifetime, and his work is so freely 
incorporated in the Tarikh that when Barth had the 
book in his hands in Gando he took it to be the work 
of Ahmed Baba. 

From Ahmed Baba, who was the descendant of a 
long line of learned ancestors, we get some charming 
biographical sketches ; amongst them many of his own 
family, which enable us perfectly to reconstruct for 
ourselves the cultivated and dignified life of letters in the 
palmy days of Timbuctoo, when Sultans, however great, 
felt themselves to be honoured by the presence of the 
learned, and to do justice was recognised as the first 
quality of a gentleman. Ahmed Baba tells us of his father 
that he had " a fine and sagacious mind and a sensitive 
heart," that he was as firm in his dealings with kings as 
he was with other men, and so earned their profound 
respect, that he had no hatreds and did justice to all. 
He was widely read, and very fond of books. His well- 
furnished library contained many rare and precious works, 
and "he lent them willingly." This last-mentioned form 


of generosity, greater in that day than we can easily now 
imagine, is frequently noted in relation to the rich and 
learned men of Timbuctoo. Indeed, Ahmed Baba con- 
fesses that it sometimes amazed him to observe to 
what extent it was carried. " But this," he adds, 
"they did for the love of men." His father died in 
1583, and the son mentions that he had studied under 
him for some years, and had obtained from him his 
diplomas as a licentiate in several subjects. He was 
himself born in 1556, His life and that of Es-sadi, 
therefore, cover a hundred years of a very important 
period of the history of the Soudan, of which they 
were able to write as contemporaries. 

We turn now to the people with whom the Tarikh is 
principally concerned. The ancient capital of the Songhay 
Empire stood where Gao now stands upon the Eastern 
Niger, and was generally called Kaougha or Kaukau by 
the ancients. It was situated within the edge of the 
summer rains upon the course of the river, where, having 
turned southward from its most northerly extension, the 
Niger flows steadily from west, south-eastward towards 
the Gulf of Guinea. The Tarikh tells us that, according 
to tradition, it was from this town that Pharaoh obtained 
the magicians who helped him in the controversy 
which is related in the Twentieth Sourate of the 
Koran as having taken place between him and Moses. 
Barth, travelling through this neighbourhood in the 
middle of the nineteenth century, also heard at Burrum, 
a little town near Gao, that it had once been a resi- 
dence of the Pharaohs. An older authority than either 
the Tarikh or Barth also, it will be remembered, speaks 
of a city in this place inhabited by black dwarfs, not, it 
is true, at a date so remote as that of Moses, but still at 
a period of very respectable antiquity ; for it is here that 
the young men of the adventure related by Herodotus 
found a city built upon a river which flowed from the 
west towards the east. 


But the history of the dwarfs is hidden from us as 
completely as the history of the magicians. If the dwarfs 
of the Coni^o forest ever did inhabit the vicinity of Gao, 
all that we know of them now is that, in common with 
other lower types of black humanity, they were driven 
by superior pressure from the north, backwards and south- 
wards towards the equator. As for the magicians and 
the link which they may have been supposed to establish 
between the contemporary history of Kaougha and the 
Egypt of the Pharaohs — if the tradition of this is pre- 
served in the annals of Egypt, it is all that we have. 
Knowledge of the country in which they lived vanishes, 
alas, in that chapter of Songhay civilisation which is lost 
to us. The religion of Egypt, the art of Egypt, the 
intellectual fertility of Egypt, even the policy of Egypt, 
while they are at times to be traced as a tradition carried 
in the blood of this half of the Western Soudan, and 
expressing itself unconsciously in customary life, offer 
yet a scarcely more definite outline to description than 
the impression of a ghostly hand laid by the past upon 
the present, and visible in short glimpses only to the 
eyes of faith. 

It is perhaps most continuously observable in the 
physical characteristics of the Songhay race. Their skin 
is black like that of the negro, but there is otherwise 
nothing negroid in their appearance. A modern writer, 
who has had ample opportunity for observation, describes 
them thus:^ "The nose of the Songhais is straight and 
long, pointed rather than flat ; the lips are comparatively 
thin, the mouth wide rather than prominent and thick ; 
while the eyes are deeply set and straight in the orbit. 
... It is to the south of the island of Philae that we 
find a similar race." 

In speaking of the people of ancient Egypt, Herodotus 
informs us that they were " black, with curly hair " ; and 
though modern investigations of Egyptian monuments 
have led to the conclusion that there were three races, 

' Felix Dubois, " Timbuctoo the Mysterious," p. 97, Eng. trans. 


of which one was probably red, Hke the still existing red 
races of the Soudan, and another yellow, or practically 
white, we yet draw from the history of that Ethiopian 
people who dwelt to the south of Philas a very different 
conception of the possibilities of black achievement from 
any furnished by our knowledge of the negroid native 
of Africa. The language of the Songhay is also different 
from that of the dialects of the Western Soudan, and gives 
proofs of Nilotic extraction. 

The modern history of this people is supposed to 
date from about the year 700 a.d., and it is with this 
alone that the historian can deal. 

The story which the Songhay s themselves tell of the 
period which preceded this, and included the foundation 
of the first recorded dynasty of this era, is that at a 
period when they were still pagans and worshipped a 
river-god, there arrived one day at their city two brothers 
out of the East. They were weary, travel-stained, and 
in so piteous a condition that they had almost lost their 
human form. Their nakedness was only hidden by the 
skins of wild beasts thrown upon their shoulders, and 
to the question whence they came, the reply was made 
by one brother for the other: '' Dia men el Yemen'' 
(he comes from Yemen). This by the Songhays, who 
did not speak Arabic, was taken to be a proper name, 
and the elder stranger was known by the name of Dia, 
afterwards corrupted to " Za " al Yemen. He was, 
according to the legend, a prince who had left his native 
land, attended only by his brother, with the intention of 
travelling over the world. Destiny had brought him to 
Gao. He accepted the decree of fate and remained in 
the city. But perceiving that his hosts were the wor- 
shippers of false gods, he killed the river-god, and "was 
himself worshipped in its place." This was the beginning 
of the dynasty who, like their founder, were all known 
by the tide of " Za." 

I give the legend as commonly repeated in Songhay. 
It is perhaps worth mentioning in connection with it the 


tradition preserved in the history of Egypt that when 
the descendants of Misraim divided the land of Egypt 
between them, a territory which stretched from the present 
position of Alexandria to the borders of Tripoli fell to 
the portion of a well-beloved younger son called " Sa." 
"Sa" devoted himself with the greatest interest to his 
kingdom, and made it very prosperous. He built towns 
full of marvels ; he constructed baths ; he had palaces 
with stained glass windows and exquisite gardens. He 
erected statues bearing burning-glasses, and other marvels, 
along the Mediterranean coast. His explorations ex- 
tended to the Atlantic on the west, and far into the desert 
on the south. 

Macrizi, writing in the fifteenth century, says of the 
towns which he constructed in the desert : " The dwell- 
ings have disappeared, their inhabitants are scattered, 
but the vestiges remain ; and all travellers who have 
penetrated into those regions relate what they can still 
see among those marvellous ruins." 

This kingdom of "Sa" covered the Tripoli-Fezzan 
caravan road into the desert. If we may judge from all 
that is related of its monuments, it must have endured 
for many generations. It is no more difficult to believe 
that two of the princes of this Egyptian house of " Sa " 
should have reached Gao by marching southwards through 
the desert, than to accept the story that they came from 
the still more distant Arabia. The change of sound from 
" Sa " to " Za " is less than from " Dia " to " Za." 

Whatever was their origin, the " Zas " reigned for 
many generations over Songhay, and "none of them 
believed in God," till in the year 1009 ^.d. Za Kosoi 
accepted Islam. It will be observed that this was nearly 
a hundred years before Islam was generally accepted 
throughout the Soudan. 

The fact is corroborated by El Bekri, who, writing 
in 1067, says that the inhabitants of Kaougha were then 
Mussulman, though the surrounding populations were 


Under the pagan " Zas " Songhay influence extended 
as far west as the town of Jenne, which was founded by 
them in the eighth century, though afterwards cut off 
from their possessions and isolated on the westerly frontier 
of the "Bend of the Niger" by the Morabite invasion 
of the Soudan. Jenn6, it will be remembered, maintained 
its paganism until the twelfth century in the midst of sur- 
rounding Islam, and, though tributary to Melle, kept the 
independence of the town until, as will be seen, it was once 
more incorporated with the Songhay Empire in or about 
1477. The most westerly manifestation of the influence 
of ancient Egypt in the Soudan is placed by the talented 
author of " Timbuctoo the Mysterious" in this town of 
Jenn6, where, when he visited it at the end of the nine- 
teenth century, he found, to his amazement, "a colony 
of ancient Egypt " in the heart of the Soudan. He 
describes the architecture of Jenne as '* neither Arabic 
nor Byzantine, Greek nor Roman, still less Gothic nor 
Western." "At last," he says, " I recall these majestically 
solid forms, and the memory is wafted to me from the 
other extremity of Africa. . . . It is in the ruins of ancient 
Egypt, in the valley of the Nile, that I have seen this 
art before." 

Jenne may be taken as marking the limit of pagan 
Songhay development, though at a later period of con- 
quest the dominion of the Songhays included the whole 
of the Western Soudan from the Atlantic to Lake Chad. 
The Songhay kingdom flourished exceedingly under the 
Mohammedan Zas. Their capital was, of all the cities of 
the blacks, that which had most gold. It had also abund- 
ance of cotton and rice, and it is at this period that 
Idrisi says of it that " it was populous, commercial, and 
industrial, and that in it was to be found the produce of 
all arts and trades necessary for its inhabitants." 

After Za Kosoi there were twelve more Moham- 
medan "Zas" before the country was conquered by Mansa 
Musa, and the two sons of the reigning Za Yasiboi were 
taken by him to be educated at his court. After that 



four more Zas were allowed to occupy the throne, pre- 
sumably in the position of tributaries of Melle, while the 
young princes grew up at the court of the Mansas. The 
elder of the young princes, Ali Kolon, was destined to 
throw off the yoke of Melle and to found the new dynasty 
of the Sonnis upon the throne of Songhay. 


When, on his return from his great pilgrimage in 1326, 
Mansa Musa stopped at Gago and ordered the construc- 
tion of a cathedral mosque, he took away with him, 
according to the custom of the kings of Melle in dealing 
with the children of vassal potentates, the two young 
sons of Za Yasiboi, the conquered sovereign, to finish 
their education at his court. These boys, of whom the 
elder was called Ali Kolon, were the sons of two sisters, 
wives of Za Yasiboi, and were both, as it happened, born 
in the same hour on the same night. But being both of 
them in the darkness laid side by side, and not washed 
until the morning, it was never certain which of the two 
came actually first into the world. Ali Kolon was, how- 
ever, the first washed, and therefore it was determined 
that he should have the honours of the firstborn. By 
all he was accepted as the elder, and by none with more 
faithful devotion than by his younger brother Selman, or 

These brothers, inspired, perhaps, by the legend of 
the two other brothers to whom their dynasty owed its 
foundation, resolved in their state of honourable captivity 
at Melle that they would some day return and free Song- 
hay from the yoke of the conqueror. Ali Kolon as he 
grew up showed himself to be a man of sense and intelli- 
gence, and was trusted by Mansa Musa and his successor 
with the conduct of occasional raids, presumably against 
the cannibals of the pagan belt, which gave him cause for 
traversing the empire in various directions. He profited 

by the opportunity to make himself acquainted with all 



roads leading to the east, and to make deposits of arms 
and provisions at important points. When the time was 
ripe, he communicated to his brother his design to make 
good their escape from Melle. To this end they care- 
fully trained their horses, preparing them to endure long 
marches, and at last boldly left the capital of Melle, riding 
in the direction of Songhay. The king, hearing of their 
flight, gave orders that they should be pursued and killed. 
But they had doubtless prepared friends for themselves, 
as well as arms and resting-places along the roads, and 
with many hairbreadth escapes they eluded their pursuers, 
and succeeded in reaching their own country. 

They succeeded, too, in their larger design. AH 
Kolon was hailed as king by the Songhays. For some 
reason which is not given, possibly connected with the 
uncertainty of his birthright, he caused himself to be 
proclaimed by the title not of " Za " but of " Sonni," thus 
founding a new dynasty — and under his leadership his 
people were delivered from the yoke of Melle. This 
result was achieved in 1355, nearly thirty years after he 
had been taken as a child to the court of Mansa Musa. 
On his death he was succeeded by his faithful brother 
Suleiman ; and there were in all seventeen kings of this 
dynasty, who continued to reign independently during the 
gradual decadence of the Empire of Melle. But though 
the Songhay kings succeeded in maintaining their indepen- 
dence, and resistance to Melle became an inherited policy 
of the race, there was no important extension of the limits 
of Songhay beyond the immediate neighbourhood of the 
capital until the last and greatest prince of the dynasty 
ascended the throne. His name was the same as that 
of the first of the Sonnis. He also was Sonni Ali, and 
he began to reign in 1464. 

At this time the Tuaregs were again in possession of 
Timbuctoo. They had for a long time ravaged the country 
with impunity up to its walls, and under a chief called 
Akil they had been tempted by the feeble condition of 
Melle to make an effort to recover their ancient town. 


" A prince," says the Tarikh, " who cannot defend his 
possessions, does not deserve to keep them." Melle 
had accordingly been forced in 1434 to abandon Tim- 
buctoo, and at the date of Sonni Ali's accession to the 
Songhay throne the Tuaregs had been masters of the 
town for upwards of thirty years. 

Rude people as they were, their conquest does not 
seem at first to have carried with it any disastrous con- 
sequences to the life of Timbuctoo. There had been no 
convulsion. The sovereignty of Melle had simply been 
withdrawn, and the existing Timbuctoo Koi, a man of 
eminent piety and learning of the name of Mohammed 
Naddi, had continued to exercise his functions. It is 
expressly stated that he had all powers in his hands, that 
under the domination of the Sultan of Melle he was 
already the chief of the city, and that his title alone was 
changed by the change of government. Up to the time 
of his death all went well, but shortly before the accession 
of Sonni Ali, Mohammed Naddi died. A new Koi was 
appointed whose authority was not respected, and Tim- 
buctoo then became a prey to the "odious exactions" of 
the Tuaregs. An epoch of violent tyranny ensued, during 
which desolation spread within its walls. 

While the Tuaregs had thus shorn Melle of power on 
its desert frontier, the King of Mossi was ravaging its 
territories from the south ; and the Fulanis of Massina 
towards the west, forced to defend themselves against 
the inroads of Mossi, were also incidentally strengthening 
their independence of an empire which could no longer 
give them adequate protection. Jenn6, with its 7000 
villages, rich and famous as the centre of an extremely 
flourishing cotton industry, remained, as ever, independent. 
Aiwalatin — or Biro, as it is usually called by Song- 
hay historians — was fast becoming, on the far north- 
western frontier, the safest place of residence in the 
empire for persons of peaceful disposition. The dis- 
turbances in Timbuctoo were restoring Aiwalatin to the 
distinction enjoyed by the Ghana of old days as the 


nearest point of junction between the Soudan and the 
civilisation of the Western world. It is accordingly to 
Aiwalatin that hasty migrations of wealth and learning 
are directed in the yet more troublous days about to fall 
upon the once flourishing Empire of Melle. 

This was the general position of the western portion 
of the Soudan when Sonni Ali, last of his race, but first 
of the great Songhay kings of modern times, ascended 
the throne. He was one of the born soldiers of the world, 
and the moment was favourable to the gratification of 
military ambition. 

The hereditary enemy of his country, attacked by 
rude and vigorous foes on all her borders, was paralysed 
by internal decay, and a great sceptre -was falling from 
a hand too weak to hold it. A lesser mind might perhaps 
have been content to join the ranks of the enemies of 
Melle, and revenge old wrongs by helping forward a work 
of sheer destruction, but Sonni Ali would seem to have 
had wider views. Whether, as is probably the case with 
many a constructive genius, his work grew under his hand 
till he himself was surprised at the dimensions it assumed, 
or whether he knew from the first at what he aimed, the 
result is the same. The Empire of the Soudan was the 
heritage which the petty kings in revolt against Melle 
purposed to divide. Sonni Ali resolved to keep it intact, 
and to take it for himself. To this end it was necessary 
to overthrow, not only Melle, but all her foes. 

He early perceived the strategic value to him who 
would rule the Soudan of that command of the water 
which on wider fields has brought about the creation 
of great navies. The Niger was the ocean of the desert, 
and his first object was to possess himself of its shores. 
Fortune favoured his desires. Shortly after his accession 
an incident occurred at Timbuctoo which gave him the 
opening that he required. It was the custom, as has 
already been mentioned, for the Koi to receive one-third 
of the taxes. The Tuareg Chief Akil, who was growing 
old and infirm, forbade this third to be paid. "Who is 


the Timbuctoo Koi ? " he contemptuously asked on one 
occasion of the puppet of his own creation. "What is 
the meaning of him? What good is he to me?" And 
he distributed among his followers the revenue which 
had been set aside for the Koi. The town was already- 
seething with discontent, and the Koi, now at the end 
of his endurance, sent secretly a messenger to Sonni Ali 
informing him of the condition of affairs, and promising 
to deliver the town into his hands if he would march 
against Timbuctoo. Timbuctoo is on the north side of 
the river. In marching across country from Gao, boats 
were needed to transport an army across the stream. 
These it would seem that the Timbuctoo Koi undertook 
to provide. Sonni Ali richly rewarded the messenger 
who brought him the welcome invitation, and marched 
upon the town. But for some reason the Timbuctoo Koi 
was unable, or at the last moment unwilling, to fulfil his 
promise of delivering Timbuctoo into Sonni All's hands. 
The boats were not ready, and the first approach from 
the south side of the river was unavailing. A second 
attack had to be made from the direction of Haussaland, 
on the north bank of the river, where no crossing had to 
be effected and no boats were needed. By the time this 
could be done, the town had had full warning of Sonni 
Ali's approach. Opinion was much divided as to the 
gain likely to result from a change of rulers. Measures 
were apparently taken for defence, and there was a great 
exodus of the learned and cultivated towards the haven of 

The Tuareg Chief Akil making, it is said, no attempt 
to defend himself, headed a caravan of a thousand camels 
with which went, besides much valuable property, the 
greater number of the jurisconsults of the university. 
Eminent names are mentioned in the lists, and some 
who lived to return at a later period to Timbuctoo, and 
to lead lives of high distinction under the succeeding 
reign, took part in the exodus as children of only five and 
six years old. The craven Koi fled also to Aiwalatin. 


In connection with the departure of this caravan, 
scenes are described which throw a curious light upon 
the habits of the learned in the remote universities of 
the Soudan at that day. " On the day of departure," 
it is said, " there were to be seen bearded men of middle 
age trembling with fright at the prospect of having to 
bestride a camel, and falling helplessly off as the animal 
rose from its knees." This came, we are told, from the 
custom which existed amongst the "virtuous ancestors" 
of the people of Timbuctoo of " keeping children so 
close to their apron-strings, that, having while they 
were young never learned to play, they grew up with- 
out knowing anything at all of the affairs of life. Now 
games in the season of youth," the chronicle gravely 
continues, "form the character of man and teach him 
a very great number of things." After the exodus to 
Biro this was recognised. " Parents regretted from this 
time to have acted as they had done, and when they 
afterwards returned to Timbuctoo they relaxed the con- 
straint which they had been accustomed to impose, and 
the children of the learned were allowed the time to 

The middle-aged professors who tumbled off their 
camels because they had not practised athletics in their 
youth, must have suffered considerably on the road to 
Aiwalatin, which was a rough ride of 500 miles across 
the desert. Their children — still the degenerate children 
who had not learned to play — were carried the whole 
way on the backs of faithful slaves. But, having arrived 
safely at Aiwalatin, the members of the caravan had 
reason to congratulate themselves upon their flight, and 
upon the safety of such precious books and manuscripts 
as they had brought with them. 

For Sonni Ali, enraged at the unexpected resistance 
of the town, took it by assault, sacked and burnt the 
principal buildings, and put many of the leading inhabitants 
to death. 

Three times in the course of its native history Tim- 


buctoo, says the Tarikh, has suffered the horrors of being 
taken by assault. Once by the Sultan of Mossi before it 
passed into the safe keeping of Mansa Musa, once by 
Sonni Ali, and once more again when at the end of its 
period of prosperity it was sacked by the Moors in 1591. 
The author of the Tarikh, whose account of the siege 
we are following, was the historian of the Askias, and as 
such was bound to justify them at the expense of Sonni 
Ali. A distinct bias is observable in all that he has to 
say of him, and the actions of that " tyrant and libertine," 
as he usually calls him, receive no merciful interpreta- 
tion at his hands. Of the three assaults which Tim- 
buctoo had to sustain, this, he says, was the worst. 
Sonni Ali spared neither age nor sex, and "seemed to 
take pleasure in destroying or dishonouring all that was 
most cultivated in Timbuctoo." It was perhaps the better 
classes of Timbuctoo who had inspired and organised 
the resistance of the town, and it was upon them that 
Sonni Ali determined to let his vengeance fall. 

He took the town in 1468, and it is said that for 
three years he continued to persecute the learned. Many 
succeeded in leaving Timbuctoo, and all the members of 
the university who had remained during the siege fled 
to Aiwalatin. Others were not so fortunate as those who 
went with the first caravan. On one occasion the new 
Timbuctoo Koi appointed by Sonni Ali was ordered to 
pursue and destroy a flying caravan, and a massacre took 
place at Tadgit in which some of the most eminent lost 
their lives. The same fate overtook many of those who 
fled to different towns. It seemed for a time as though 
the conqueror had determined to extirpate learning from 
the Soudan. But after three years the persecution 
ceased, and the theory that it was intended as a punish- 
ment for a definite offence is supported by the fact, 
admitted even by the author of the Tarikh, that not- 
withstanding the persecutions which Sonni Ali caused 
the learned to endure, he did, nevertheless, recognise 
their merits. He was heard to say that " without learn- 


ing life would have neither pleasure nor savour," and 
"if he injured some, he did great good to many, and 
loaded them with favours." Amongst other favours, in 
keeping with the rude character of the conqueror, was 
the presentation on one occasion to the more favoured 
"notables, saints, and sages" of Timbuctoo of a number 
of Fulani women whom he had captured in a military- 
expedition against a settlement of this people in the 
north of Gurma. One of the favoured was the Imaum of 
the cathedral mosque, the great-great-grandfather of the 
author. To him was sent a very charming Fulani girl 
of the name of Aicha, whom, contrary, it would appear, to 
the usual custom of Sonni Ali and his profligate favourites, 
he married. From this marriage, as has been already 
stated, was descended the family of Es-Sadi. 

The conqueror's religion was no more orthodox than 
his morals. He was the son of a pagan woman of the 
neighbourhood of Sokoto, and was deeply imbued, it is 
said, with the superstitions of the race. He was nominally 
Mohammedan, and like Henry IV. of Navarre, knew the 
value of a mass. But he cared nothing for these things. 
In private he habitually left his five daily prayers to be 
said when it was convenient, either in the evening, or 
perhaps not till the following day. He would even pro- 
fanely call the prayers one after another by their names, 
and without more ceremony dispose of them, saying : " You 
know my sentiments, you can divide them between you." 
His temper was violent, and he would order men to be 
executed for trifling offences ; sometimes this would happen 
even to those who were his best friends and to whom he 
was most attached. In such cases he frequently repented, 
and in his court it became the custom, when the order 
appeared unreasonable, to hide the victim of his indig- 
nation for a time, and when the fit of remorse followed 
upon anger to produce the culprit. 

All this gave occasion for great horror and dismay 
in those circles of Timbuctoo where it was felt that in 
exchanging the nominal rule of the Tuaregs — accompanied 


though it had been with occasional outbreaks of disorder 
— for the heavy hand of Sonni Ali, they had exchanged 
freedom for a yoke which was almost too heavy to be 

The only circumstance which rendered their fate toler- 
able was the interposition of Sonni Ali's prime minister, 
a man for whose counsels he had a great regard, and who 
acted as a moderating influence upon him. This man, 
whose name was Mohammed Abou Bekr Et-Touri, was 
a pure-blooded black of Songhay. He was born of well- 
known parents in the island of Neni, a little below Sinder, 
in the Niger, and though he first made his fame as a 
soldier, being one of the most distinguished generals of 
Sonni Ali's army, he was more remarkable for the quali- 
ties which usually characterise great civilians. He appears 
to have been a man of liberal principles and large views, 
naturally humane, and disposed to temper justice with 
mercy, more than usually cultivated, active, wise, and 
firm. He had been fortunate in the circumstances of his 
youth. He came of good stock. His father was a man 
universally respected. His mother was a woman of re- 
markable piety, who brought up her children with care. 
A brother of his is mentioned by Leo Africanus — who 
was by no means disposed to be a gentle critic — as "black 
in colour but most beautiful in mind and conditions." 
Mohammed himself had been brought up in the strictest 
orthodoxy, and throughout his life he adhered closely 
to the faith of his youth. He took no part in the luxuries 
and the loose living of Sonni Ali's court. Possibly the 
purity of his life contributed no less than the well-balanced 
power of his mind to the creation of the remarkable 
friendship which existed between him and the wild 
monarch, so unlike himself in every particular, except 
that of a certain greatness which they had in common. 
Sonni Ali, with all his faults, had qualities which won him 
friends. When his name was mentioned with blame before 
them, they would say, " He has been good to me ; I will 
speak neither praise nor blame." His prime minister would 


seem to have been one of these. For thirty years their 
friendship, though often severely strained, never gave 
way. The minister would seem to have had the rare 
power of understanding the strength and the weakness 
of the character with which he had to deal. He ap- 
preciated the genius of Sonni Ali, and entered into his 
great designs. His constant care was to assist him in 
carrying them out. At the same time he endeavoured 
to save both him and the country from the consequences 
of the madness with which in this case genius seems to 
have been closely allied. 

It was this minister who instituted at Sonni Ali's 
court the practice of concealing for a time culprits capri- 
ciously condemned to death. He had the courage 
frequently to disobey the unjust orders of his master, 
and thus, while he risked his own life, stood between 
the monarch and the defenceless people over whom he 
ruled. He was enabled to do this, says his chronicler, 
because God had endowed him with a special force of 

He had the wishes of the people on his side, and 
often, when his struggles with the conqueror became 
critical, his mother, it is said, would cause prayers to 
be offered in Timbuctoo that the Almighty would sustain 
him in his opposition. The picture is curious, of a 
prime minister sustained by public prayer in opposition 
to a friend and tyrant whose lightest word had power 
to end his life. It serves to illustrate the typical relation 
of Mohammedan to pagan greatness in the country where 
each commands, even to this day, its own form of respect. 
Sonni Ali, though nominally Mohammedan, was in truth 
of the pagan type. He was the last of the great 
pagans, and in the double strain of conflict and affec- 
tion which existed between him and his minister, may 
be seen reflected the conflict between enlightenment 
and natural instinct, between law and tyranny, between 
reason and force, which form the elements of the eternal 
conflict between the higher and the lower life of peoples. 


Yet through all the conflict it reflects also the natural 
affection of man to the race from which he springs, to 
the customs amongst which he was born, to the aims 
and aspirations which are the aims and aspirations of 
his blood. Standing as they do side by side on the 
field of history, Sonni Ali and his great minister must 
be taken as representing in the Soudan the genius of 
paganism and the genius of Islam clasping hands in a 
last salute before their respective roads cross and part. 



While by the exertions of Mohammed Abou Bekr the worst 
evils which might have resulted from Sonni Ali's adminis- 
tration were averted, the military genius of the monarch 
himself extended the limits of this administration year by 
year. To meet the requirements of the army he imposed 
a general military service upon the people, and his reign 
of nearly thirty years was one long series of campaigns. 
From Timbuctoo he marched on Jenne. That town, which 
had successfully resisted, it is said, no less than ninety-nine 
sieges from Melle, cost him a siege of seven years, seven 
months, and seven days, during which time his army camped 
and cultivated the fertile fields by which Jenne is sur- 
rounded. At the end of the siege the town yielded by 
honourable capitulation. No injury of any kind was done to 
its inhabitants, and the seven days which are added to the 
period of the siege were consumed, it is said, by festivities 
on the occasion of the marriage of Sonni Ali with the 
widow of the ruler of the town, who had died during the 
siege. Thus, after about four hundred years of separation, 
Jenne became once more a portion of the Songhay Empire. 
The exact date of the fall of Jenne is not given, but it 
was presumably towards the year 1477, and in the mean- 
time the troops of Sonni x\li had not been idle. The entire 
course of the Middle Niger was in their general's hands. 
From Gago to Jenne he commanded the great highway of 
the Soudan. He had repulsed Mossi in the south. He 
had conquered Hombori in the Bend of the Niger, and 
Kanta, and other countries in the east. A little to the 
north of Jenne on the west, and again to the south of Gago 


on the east, he had successfully encountered the semi- 
independent Fulani rulers, on whom he had imposed his 
suzerainty. Either at this time or later — I have been 
unable to ascertain the exact date — he constructed and 
placed upon the Niger a great fleet under the supreme 
command of an officer of high naval rank, corresponding 
to an admiral, whose headquarters were at the port of 
Kabara near Timbuctoo. In 1477-8-9 we find him free 
to devote his principal efforts to the western province and 
to encounter his chief enemy, the King of Mossi, who, 
having been driven from the Bend of the Niger, had 
crossed the river, and, to the terror of the unhappy pro- 
fessors of Aiwalatin, was making his way over the ravaged 
territories of Melle towards that town. The campaign 
which ensued in the province of Walata practically placed 
Melle in the hands of Sonni AH, although in the year 1480 
Aiwalatin was taken and occupied for a month by the King 
of Mossi. Mossi was unable to hold it, and was compelled 
to withdraw and to abandon the booty which he had seized. 
The result of the fighting would seem to have convinced 
Sonni Ali of the difficulty of holding and defending a 
frontier town in the isolated position of Aiwalatin as 
a part of an empire of which the river Niger was the 
base, for he conceived and put into partial execution the 
daring scheme of connecting Aiwalatin by water with 
Timbuctoo by means of a canal which he proposed to 
construct across the desert. 

The fame of Sonni Ali by this time had spread beyond 
the limits of the Soudan. He was recognised in Northern 
Africa as the most powerful of the black sovereigns of the 
West, and he is mentioned in European annals under the 
name of Sonni Heli, King of Timbuctoo, whose power 
was acknowledged as extending to the West Atlantic 

It was a moment in which African affairs were be- 
ginning to be regarded with interest by European powers. 
The Portuguese, under Prince Henry the Navigator, had 
in the early part of the century begun that career of ex- 


ploration and settlement which was to lead to the discovery 
of the passage of the Cape of Good Hope, and so to 
revolutionise European history. A curious theory still 
prevailed amongst the ignorant that at the Equator the 
sea ran dry, and that the passage of ships would be found 
barred by sand. No sailor having as yet dared like 
Columbus to put boldly out to sea, the Portuguese move- 
ment crept round the African coast, and the sandbanks 
of the West African harbours served during the early 
explorations to confirm the common view. Each was 
taken in turn to represent the last step which could be 
safely made. It was considered a great feat when a man 
in Prince Henry's service courageously doubled Cape 
Bogador, and two others explored the coast at Angra de 
Cintra in 1435. ^^^ Cape Blanco followed in 1441. 
The banks of Arguin were discovered in 1443, and Cape 
Verde and the mouth of the Senegal in 1444 and 1445. 
Trade was opened on the Senegal with the natives, and 
after this the Portuguese discovery of Gambia, Sierra 
Leone, and the Gold Coast, rapidly followed. The last- 
named coast was explored by two Portuguese sailors in 
1 47 1, and the quantity of gold which they obtained was 
so great as to give to their first landing-place the name 
which it has always kept of The Mine or Elmina. Within 
a few years the Portuguese had established trading stations 
along the coast, and in i486, having built a first fort and 
church at Elmina, the King of Portugal took the title 
of Lord of Guinea. In 1481, at the moment when Sonni 
Ali had driven the King of Mossi out of the province of 
Walata, and was preparing to strengthen his own hold 
upon the capital of that province by the construction of 
a canal from Timbuctoo, the Portuguese had taken to 
Lisbon and were receiving there with great honour a 
certain prince of the Joloffs, or black branch of the Fulani 
people, who inhabited the territory to the south of the 
Senegal, lying between that river and the Atlantic coast. 
This visit is interesting, as giving one of the earliest 
authentic descriptions which we possess of the Fulah 


in his most westerly African home. The prince, whose 
name was Bemoy, is described as " a man of about forty 
years of age, of a fine figure and generally well made. 
He had a long and well-trimmed beard, and did not 
appear to be a negro, but a prince to whom all honour 
and respect were due." He was received by King John 
with the utmost distinction. Fetes, bull-fights, and other 
entertainments were given in his honour, and he had 
many audiences of the king and queen. In these inter- 
views he spoke well, and gave the king most interesting 
information about Negroland, and especially about the 
King of Mossi, of whose defeat by Sonni Ali he had not 
then heard, and whom he described as "neither pagan 
nor Mohammedan, but as conforming in many things to 
the views of the Christians." Mossi was at that time 
regarded by the pagans of the coast as the greatest of 
the kings of the interior — so little did they know of the 
life and civilisation of the Nigerian Soudan. Bemoy, who 
would seem to have been himself better informed, gave 
it as a proof of the important position held by Mossi that 
he had not been conquered by the King of Timbuctoo. 

The outcome of all this knowledge gained by the 
Portuguese was that they conceived the idea of carrying 
their trade from the coast to the interior of the country, 
and that they desired to gain the friendship of the King 
of Timbuctoo. They accordingly despatched an embassy 
to Sonni Ali, asking for his permission to establish a 
trading station at Wadan in the back country of Cape 
Blanco, within the western borders of the Mellestine. 
Sonni Ali acceded to their request, and a Portuguese 
trading station was actually established within his terri- 
tories at the oasis of Hoden or Wadan in the western 
desert. The place was unsuitable, and it was afterwards 
abandoned. The fact of its having existed for some time 
with the friendly recognition of the Songhay king is an 
interesting indication of the intercourse with Europe, 
which might have been developed along the northern 
trades routes of the Soudan, but for the approaching 



events in Spain, of which the immediate result was to close 
the interior of Northern Africa for four hundred years to 
Christian enterprise. 

At the same time that the Portuguese sent embassies 
to the King of Timbuctoo they also sent an embassy to 
Mossi. They wished to conciliate his goodwill for their 
trade upon the southern coast. But the glory of Mossi 
was at an end. After driving him from Walata in 
1480, Sonni Ali devoted himself for two years to the 
work of constructing the canal which was to join Tim- 
buctoo with Aiwalatin. He was himself engaged in 
superintending the operations at a place in the desert 
called Chan - Fenez, when word was brought to him 
in 1482 that the King of Mossi had assembled all his 
forces, and was marching against Timbuctoo. Sonni 
Ali immediately abandoned the canal, and the place 
which it had reached when the news was brought to 
him was, we are told, the farthest point in the desert 
which it ever attained. Placing himself at the head 
of his troops, he marched against Mossi, and completely 
overthrew him in the year 1483. He followed up the 
victory by pursuing him to the farthest limits of his 
territories, and in 1485-86 he conquered the mountain 
territory to the south. By this conquest he carried 
Songhay arms far into the pagan belt. But the moun- 
tain range in which the Niger and the Senegal have 
their sources, at the back of Sierra Leone and Sene- 
gambia, and which runs from west to east between the 
tenth and eighth parallels of latitude, until it passes on to 
become the mountains of the Cameroons in German West 
Africa, would seem to have been always regarded as the 
natural southern boundary of the Nigerian Soudan. On 
the southern side of this range, usually known by the 
name of the Kong Mountains, the country assumes that 
swampy and tropical character which renders it apparently 
unfit for the habitation of the higher races. Its rivers 
run through belts of oil-palm and mangroves to the 
coast, and it has ever been the habitation of pagans and 


cannibals. Sonni AH carried his arms no farther. The 
pagans of the Gold Coast were left unmolested by his 
victories, and it is probable that the naked savages who 
received the Portuguese at Elmina and Achem, with 
heads surmounted by the grinning masks of wild beasts, 
and no other covering but a palm-leaf fringe, were as 
ignorant a hundred years later of the existence of Songhay 
as they were in i486. The Benins were at this time 
the most powerful and the most civilised among the coast 
natives, and they were known to the Portuguese as "an 
extremely cruel people who lived upon human flesh." 

The conquest of Mossi placed Sonni Ali in the posi- 
tion of having subdued all those enemies of Melle whom 
he found in arms at the time of his accession. He was 
virtually the master of the Mellestine, though Melle itself 
still preserved a nominal independence, and the town of 
Aiwalatin enjoyed a quasi-separate position apart from the 
subdued province of Walata upon the frontier. He now 
turned his arms against the east. A campaign against 
Borgu, which lies south of Gurma on the Eastern Niger, 
was only partially successful. Details are wanting, but 
the people of Borgu were able at a later period to boast 
that they had never been conquered. Some other con- 
quests took place, of which it is difficult to identify the 
localities, and in 1492 he undertook a campaign against 
the Fulani of Gurma, lying also in the bend of the 
Eastern Niger, between Borgu and his capital of Gago. 

This was his last campaign. Here, though success- 
ful, he lost his life. He died, not as so great a soldier 
would have wished to die, under the spears of his enemies, 
but by a trivial accident of fate. He was drowned in 
the sudden flood of a stream on his return from his vic- 
torious expedition. His death occurred far from the 
capital, and the hand of ancient Egypt is for a moment 
visible in the circumstance that his sons, who were 
present, immediately disembowelled the body and filled 
it with honey, that it might be safely transported to 
take its place in the tombs of his fathers. 



In summing up Sonni All's military career, the 
chronicle says of him : "He only suffered two reverses, 
one at Duoneo^ and the other in Borgu. He surpassed 
all the kings his predecessors, in the numbers and valour 
of his soldiery. His conquests were many, and his 
renown extended from the rising to the setting of the 
sun. If it is the will of God he will be long spoken of." 

^ Dounna, a mountainous country in the West, which had resisted Sonni 
Ali, and afterwards fought Mohammed El Hadj so well, that neither of them 
could achieve anything against its inhabitants. — Tarikh^ p. 8r. 


SoNNi Ali was succeeded by his great minister, Mo- 
hammed Abou Bekr — not without fighting. There was 
a minority who upheld the claim of one of Sonni All's 
many sons, and two great battles were fought near Gago. 
The second battle decided the question without any 
further doubt, and Mohammed ascended the throne, 
supported by the good wishes of every important section 
of the people. He seems to have felt himself fully 
justified in thus taking the supreme power, and it is 
said that the title by which he and the dynasty that 
he founded were known for the next hundred years 
had its rise in his calm acceptance of the position. After 
the battle in which the fate of Sonni All's dynasty 
was decided, the news of Mohammed's accession was 
brought to the daughters of Sonni Ali. They received 
it with a cry of "Askia!" or "the Usurper!" The 
incident was related to him, and instead of showing any 
resentment, he said, " By that title I will be known." 
By his command his sovereignty was accordingly pro- 
claimed under the title] of " Askia Mohammed Abou 
Bekr," and Askia became the royal title of the Songhay 
kings until their empire was overthrown by the Moors. 

Sonni Ali had conquered an empire. The great 
work of the Askias was to organise it, and to bring it 
to a condition of peace, prosperity, and cultivation, which 
was little suspected as existing in the heart of the Soudan 
during that century which witnessed in Europe the 
expulsion of the Moors from Spain, the crusade of 
Charles V. against the Saracens, the victory of Lepanto 



over the Turks, and the closing of the principal ports of 
the Mediterranean to the infidels. 

The lately subjected portions of Askia Mohammed's 
empire not unnaturally seized the opportunity of a change 
of dynasty to rebel, and in the course of the long reign 
which lay before him he fought perhaps as many cam- 
paigns as Sonni Ali. Nevertheless his reign was, to 
the majority of his people, a reign of peace. Almost 
his first act was to issue orders for the organisation of a 
standing army — a scheme which had no doubt been long 
matured — and by this separation of the fighting element 
from the people he saved the country, says his chronicler, 
from the desolating effects of war. The industrial and 
learned life of the towns went on without interruption, 
and one end of the empire hardly knew whether the 
other end was at peace or war. Simultaneously with 
his reform of the military forces of the empire, he gave 
his attention to the Church. The orthodox and pious, 
whose voices had not been heard during the late reign, 
now came from their obscurity. Mohammed consulted 
frequently with the heads of the Mussulman communities 
in all the towns, and everything that could be done to 
improve the religious position of the country was under- 
taken. Schools were founded, mosques were rebuilt. A 
new activity was felt throughout the empire. 

Sonni Ali died in November of 1492. Mohammed was 
occupied for nearly three years with these first necessary 
reforms, and with the subjugation of outlying and rebellious 
populations. But though he had accepted with such 
apparent calm the irregularity of his own position, it is 
clear that he was not indifferent to the importance of 
affirming his power by a sanction stronger than that of 
popular acclamation. As soon as the immediate neces- 
sities of the situation had been dealt with, and it was 
possible for him to contemplate a temporary absence 
from the country, he appointed his favourite brother to 
be regent in his place, and proceeded to Mecca to make 
the pilgrimage and to seek at Cairo a formal investiture 


at the hands of the Caliph of Egypt. The Turks had, 
it will be remembered, long since overthrown the political 
supremacy of the Caliphs, and had affirmed their own 
position by the taking of Constantinople in 1453. But 
the Caliphs of Egypt still kept their position as the 
religious head of the Mussulman world. 

This pilgrimage of Askia Mohammed, which has kept 
a place in the annals of the country side by side with the 
pilgrimage undertaken nearly two hundred years before 
by Mansa Musa, was made the object, like that earlier 
pilgrimage, of the display of some magnificence. But 
there is a distinct progress observable in the nature of the 
display. The pilgrimage of Askia Mohammed does not 
involve the march of an army of 60,000 persons, accom- 
panied by a baggage train of thousands of camels, to be 
moved in a slow royal progress round the empire. The 
king went accompanied by a brilliant group of the principal 
notables and the most holy and learned men of the Soudan. 
It is probable that he moved with some state, for both 
Marmol and Leo Africanus inform us that he kept a mag- 
nificent and well-furnished court. But a military escort of 
500 cavalry and 1000 infantry was considered sufficient for 
the protection of his caravan, and there is no mention that 
he caused himself to be preceded, like Mansa Musa in pro- 
cession across the desert, by slaves dressed in silk brocade 
and carrying golden wands. Neither did he take with 
him eighty camels laden with gold dust. Three hundred 
thousand gold pieces are mentioned as his more portable 
and convenient provision for financial necessities. It was 
not in barbaric splendour like that of Mansa Musa that 
the fame of Askia's pilgrimage consisted, but rather in 
the distinction of the persons who accompanied him, of 
whom Ahmed Baba gives us some of the biographies, 
and in the great number of learned doctors and noble 
friends whom Askia had the opportunity of meeting in 
Cairo and in the Holy Cities. The friendships which 
were here formed lasted for the rest of his life, and cor- 
respondence with some of the most distinguished men of 


letters of the East, which was at this time entered into, 
was never dropped. 

Es Soyouti, the famous Arabian encyclopedist and 
scholar, was one of those who met Askia Mohammed 
during this visit to the East, and with whom the Songhay 
king continued to correspond. It is said that he never 
afterwards undertook a reform of importance in the State 
without previously consulting Es Soyouti. All who met 
the king were impressed with the keen interest which he 
displayed on many subjects, his readiness to listen to the 
best opinions, his diligent discussion with the learned, and 
his anxiety to acquire information on practical questions. 
Askia Mohammed remained for two years in the East, 
during which period he devoted much time to study. 
Amongst subjects named as arresting his special atten- 
tion we find : " Everything that concerned the govern- 
ment and administration of peoples ;" "principles of taxa- 
tion, and especially land tax and the tithe or tribute to 
be taken from newly conquered peoples ; " " verification 
and inspection of weights and measures, regulation of 
trade, laws of inheritance, laws for the suppression of 
fraud, customs duties ; " " laws for the suppression of 
immorality, and measures to be taken for the introduction 
of better manners among the people." The limits of re- 
ligious tolerance and persecution also appear to have 
occupied his mind, and it is mentioned of him by one 
or two of his biographers that he allowed himself to be 
influenced by orthodox marabouts in the direction of the 
persecution of the Jews. 

There can be little doubt that to a man of his age, 
having had already thirty years of practical acquaintance 
with affairs, but having now for the first time the sense 
of security in his own position and of power to carry his 
views into operation, the visit under the circumstances 
which seem to have accompanied it must have been one 
of extraordinary interest and importance. Mohammed 
Abou Bekr was already a distinguished soldier at the 
time of the conquest of Timbuctoo in 1468. He cannot 


have been less than fifty years of age in 1495. He 
had been educated in an island of the Niger, and such 
portion of his life as had not been spent in attendance 
upon Sonni Ali at one or other of his rough courts had 
been spent in the hardest form of active campaigning in 
the tropics. It throws a remarkable light upon the vigour 
of his mind and the natural distinction of his character, 
that at this age, and having lived the life which he had 
lived, he was able to apply himself with the eagerness of 
youth to the sources of learning, and, undeterred by dif- 
ferences of colour, to form friendships on equal terms with 
men of the orreatest enlio-htenment and hia-hest intellectual 
activity which a centre of civilisation like that of Egypt 
could produce. 

The phases of development of a despotic monarch 
have a wide-reaching influence, and it is hardly too much 
to say that the course of history in the Soudan was pro- 
foundly modified by this visit of its sovereign to the East. 

He accomplished the political and religious purposes 
for which he went. The cities of Mecca and Medina 
were visited, and vast sums given in charity in both towns. 
In Mecca he bought a garden and established a charitable 
institution for the benefit of all future pilgrims from the 
Soudan. In Cairo he received investiture at the hands of 
El Motawekkel the Fourteenth, Abbasside Caliph of 
Egypt. The ceremony included a solemn abdication on 
Askia's part for three days of the Songhay throne. On the 
fourth day the Caliph appointed him to the position of 
Lieutenant of the Abbasside Sultans in the Soudan, and 
invested him, in sign of this authority, with a turban and 
cap. Thus politically, but far more intellectually, was 
Songhay restored to its ancient position as a child of 


It is an interesting coincidence that 1493, the year 
in which Askia formed the resolution to seek the religious 
sanction of the head of the Mohammedan Church to his 
occupation of the throne of the Soudan, was the year in 
which, in consequence of the discoveries made by Columbus 


in the western hemisphere, and the differences which 
had arisen between Spain and Portugal with regard to 
their respective rights in the new world opening to ex- 
ploration, the two great powers of Southern Europe 
resolved to settle their controversy by reference to the 
head of the Christian Church. Already, under a Papal 
Bull of Martin V., Portugal had acquired supreme rights 
over all non-Christian territories which she might discover 
between Cape Bogador and the Indies. Greek and 
Arabian geographers, although so well informed on the 
general geography of the eastern hemisphere, had, up to 
the period of the discoveries of Columbus, laid down the 
dictum that the "Ocean Sea" which washed the western 
borders of Europe and the eastern borders of Asia, sur- 
rounded one-half of the world without interruption, and 
that in it there existed absolutely no habitable land. This 
view was accepted by enlightened opinion in Europe. 
The claim was therefore put forward by John II. of 
Portugal — the same king who, in i486, had received the 
Fulani Prince Bemoy with so much honour in Lisbon — 
that Columbus, in sailing westward till he came to land, 
was likely to trespass upon territories already granted to 
Portugal in the east. To obviate the difficulties which 
might arise from such undetermined rights, Ferdinand 
and Isabella appealed to the Pope to give the sanction 
of the Church to their occupation of lands discovered in 
America; and, in response to their request, Pope Alexander 
VI. issued, in May 1493, the famous Bull by which all 
territories, not already in the possession of Christian 
powers, and situated to the east of an imaginary line drawn 
from pole to pole through what was then believed to be 
the immovable point of non-variation of the compass, 
were given to Portugal, and similar territories to the west 
of it were granted to Spain. The grant was accompanied 
by an injunction to subdue and convert the barbarous 
nations with whom either power should come in contact, 
and plenary indulgence was accorded for the souls of all 
those who should perish in the conquest. The exact 


position of the dividing-line was decided by a commission 
which met at Torde^illas in January 1494, and after much 
discussion the point through which the Hne should pass 
was fixed at 370 leagues west of Cape Verde. 

Thus it happened that while Spain was about to expel 
the Moors entirely from her dominions, and to close the 
ports of the Mediterranean, so far as lay in her power, 
against them, Portugal was invested by the Pope with 
supreme authority over those territories of the Western 
Soudan which the Spanish Arabs had always regarded as 
their natural though unconquered appanage in Africa. 

As the resolution conceived by Askia in 1493 was not 
carried out till 1495, it is possible in point of time that 
he may have been already acquainted with the move- 
ments that were taking place in the Western world, and 
that his investiture by the Egyptian Caliph was part of 
a general drawing together of the Mussulman forces in 
the East. But of this, if it was so, we have no trace. 
I have been unable to find any allusion to interest ex- 
pressed or felt in the Soudan in the great discoveries of 
Columbus and Vasco da Gama. Rather it would seem 
that the conquest of the Moors by Ferdinand and Isabella 
in 1492, shortly followed as it was by the total expulsion 
of that people from Europe, must be regarded as closing 
the connection of the Moors, and through them of the 
Soudan, with the progressive life and science of the West. 

Yet it was from Cairo, only a few years before the 
visit of Askia, that news had been sent to King John II. 
of Portugal of a south Cape of Africa with which Arabian 
mariners, who had long been accustomed to the use of 
compass, quadrants, and sea-charts, were well acquainted. 
It was a matter of common knowledge to their seamen 
that the African continent terminated with a cape, and 
that there was no difficulty in the way of sailing round 
it to the west. Two Jews took the information to King 
John that it could be easily doubled from the west, and 
to prove their statement took also with them an Arabic 
map of the African coast. In consequence of this infor- 


mation, King John was preparing the expedition of Vasco 
da Gama at the time that Askia was in Cairo. The 
interest aroused by the discoveries of Columbus must 
have been great in Arabian as well as European circles. 
The geographers of the East must have believed that he 
had reached the eastern shores of Asia, and as they were 
well acquainted wMth the geography of Asia to the farthest 
limits of China and Japan, they must have been greatly 
exercised to account for the discrepancy apparently dis- 
played in the size of the world as long since measured 
by the astronomers of India, and corrected and accepted 
by the scientific observations of Greeks and Arabs. These 
matters must have been subjects of discussion in intelli- 
gent circles in Cairo during the visit of the Askia, and he 
must presumably have shared in the general interest which 
they excited. 

He returned to the Soudan in 1497, too early to have 
heard of the result of the expedition of Vasco da Gama, 
which in November of that year attained the object for 
which it was despatched, and succeeded in doubling the 
Cape of Good Hope. This last event was one of supreme 
importance to the history of the Soudan, for it opened 
the passage of the Atlantic to European commerce ; and, 
in conjunction with the almost simultaneous closing of 
the northern ports of Africa to Christian intercourse, it 
determined the fact that the subsequent approach of 
Europe to West Africa should be from the south by sea, 
instead of, as in all the previous chapters of Soudanese 
history, from the north by land. The frontage of the 
Soudan upon civilisation was reversed. 

But, as has been seen, the southern portion of West 
Africa, following the sinuosities of the Gulf of Guinea, 
is cut off from the healthier uplands by a swampy belt 
of densely wooded malarial jungle, backed by a con- 
tinuous range of hills. This swampy belt was, at the 
end of the fifteenth century, as it had been from im- 
memorial antiquity, the habitation of pagans, who, in 
the estimation of their Arab chroniclers, represented the 


lowest types known to humanity. They were for the 
most part cannibals, idolaters, and barbarians ; their 
country had been for centuries the place of exile for all 
that was basest in the Arabian Soudan ; their people, 
from the earliest ages of history, had been regarded as 
the lawful prey of the slave-hunter, only differing by 
the lesser value that was placed upon them from the 
elephants which they hunted in the impenetrable recesses 
of their tropical jungle. The territory of these lower 
tribes, extending for a couple of hundred miles inland 
from the coast, offered, under their existing conditions 
of transport, a practically impassable barrier to civilised 
exploration. The character of the inhabitants, and the 
deadly nature of the climate, did not encourage the ex- 
pansion of European settlement. As will presently be 
shown, the coast settlements of Europe for four hundred 
years spread no farther than a few miles from the sea. 
Direct commercial intercourse with the interior was never 
established over the difficult and unfrequented roads which 
penetrated towards the higher lands, and from this period 
the relations of Europe with West Africa were confined 
mainly to trade in three lucrative products of the coast 
— gold, ivory, and slaves. None of these required any 
high state of civilisation to produce. All were to be 
obtained in profusion in the belt which lay between 
the mountains and the sea. The knowledge of what 
lay beyond the mountains was lost to Europe by the 
cessation of intercourse between Africa and Spain. Ap- 
proach, which could not be seriously attempted from the 
south, was rendered impossible from the north. The 
Soudan of the Arabs was visited no more by the outer 
world, and a civilisation which had been in touch for 
nearly a thousand years with the most highly cultivated 
centres of European life was silently buried in the sands 
of Africa. 



AsKiA THE Great, in returning from Cairo to the Soudan 
in 1497, had Httle knowledge of the strange destiny which 
lay before his country. He knew, indeed, that the last 
stronghold of the Moslems in Western Europe had been 
conquered five years before by the Christian sovereigns 
of Spain. But the expulsion of the Arabs from the 
Spanish Peninsula had not yet taken place. He was 
probably acquainted with the authority given to Portugal 
to prosecute a career of exploration and conquest on the 
African coasts. But the coast territory interested him 
little. It was a matter of no great moment to him whose 
armies raided with his own upon the prolific populations, 
of whom the experience of history served to prove the 
slave supply to be inexhaustible. No wisdom could have 
enabled him to foresee that the whole current of European 
life would flow to the channel opened by the maritime 
enterprise of the Atlantic nations, that the supremacy 
of the East was at an end, and that his own people, 
isolated in the heart of Africa, were to be left untouched 
by the tide of a civilisation sweeping past them to fertilise 
the shores of continents then unknown. 

To himself it must have seemed that the work which 
lay before him of reforming the administration of his 
vast empire, and raising the life of the populations 
committed to his care to the level which reflection and 
experience led him to believe to be attainable, was a 
labour of absorbing interest, and demanded the whole 
activity of his mind. 

Already past the zenith of middle age, he must have 


doubted whether the portion of Hfe which still remained 
would be enough to permit him to carry his many schemes 
to a point at which their success would ensure stability. 
It was, perhaps, with this thought in his mind that he 
had caused himself to be accompanied to the East by 
his eldest son and heir, as well as by a picked band of 
chosen counsellors and ministers. This group of persons 
who had shared his experiences, and had no doubt been 
admitted to his confidence, offered not only a guarantee 
of the continuance of the reign of enlightened principles 
in the event of his death, but also a number of trained 
instruments, by whose co-operation his ideas of govern- 
ment might be brought into effect. Amongst these 
he appears to have been fortunate in possessing for his 
principal minister just such a faithful friend and coun- 
sellor as he had been himself, during a term of thirty 
years, to Sonni Ali. Ali Folen — sometimes called Fulan 
or Fulani — mentioned amongrst the foremost of those who 
accompanied him on the pilgrimage of 1495, remained 
absolutely devoted not only to him, but to his ideas, 
throughout the long reign which, though neither of them 
knew it, lay still before him. At the end they were 
separated only in the old age of the then blind monarch 
by the jealousy of others, who could not tolerate the 
"mutual understanding and support which was perfect 
between these two." The man who had been himself 
a loyal friend was able to accept and to appreciate the 
loyalty of others. He freely trusted and freely used the 
service of his friends. He was more than a wise 
monarch, he was the founder of a school, and so long 
as his inspiration lasted, enlightenment, order, and pros- 
perity were enjoyed in the Soudan. 

The institution of a standing army, recruited, no doubt, 
largely from the slave and subject populations, had already 
relieved the people from one of their most intolerable 
burdens. This was of the utmost importance, as Askia 
found himself obliged to sustain an almost continuous 
state of war. In the first year of his return from Mecca, 


he undertook a war, formally invested with all the char- 
acteristics of a " Holy War," against the Sultan of Mossi, 
whose paganism it was resolved no longer to tolerate 
within the empire. The circumstances of this war, and 
the devotion of Mossi to his idols, are related with some 
detail, and serve to dispose of the Portuguese rumour 
that Mossi was a Christian after the manner of Egypt. 
The result of the war was a complete conquest on the 
part of Askia, and the acceptance of Islam by the con- 
quered people. This, it is expressly stated, was the only 
" Holy War " of Askia's reign. He conquered all that re- 
mained unconquered of the West as far as the Atlantic 
Ocean, and reasserted his authority to the utmost limits of 
the salt mines of Tegazza and the old north-western frontiers 
of the Mellestine. Immediately after subduing Mossi, he 
subdued the Fulani of the south-west. In 1501 he en- 
trusted his brother with the command of an army destined 
for the overthrow of Melle, but the campaign proving 
unsuccessful, he himself took the field in the following 
year, and, having completely defeated the armies of Melle, 
sacked the capital and carried the family of the reign- 
ing prince into captivity. Amongst the captives was a 
girl of the name of Miriam, who became the mother of his 
son and subsequent successor, Ismail. 

It is mentioned that after this campaign there was 
no more fighting for three years, and Askia remained for 
some time in Melle studying the country, and devoting his 
attention to the amelioration of its condition, and to its 
reorganisation upon a new political footing. His system 
would seem to have been, as was the universal custom in 
the confines of the Soudan, to allow the country to remain 
quasi-independent — that is, governed by its own rulers 
under the suzerainty of Songhay, to whom tribute was 
paid and obedience in certain respects was given. A 
Melle- Koi is spoken of from this time forward up 
to the period of the overthrow of the country by the 
Moors. But Askia's measures of reorganisation, whatever 
they may have been, can hardly have satisfied himself, 


for we read of further campaigns, or perhaps more pro- 
perly punitive expeditions, against Melle, which recurred 
with sufficient frequency to be described by some his- 
torians as a "twelve years' war," before Melle was 
finally subdued. 

After Melle came Borgu, and here again a captive 
was taken who became the mother of another of the 
sons of the great Askia. These marriages or connections 
which resulted in the birth of princes, recognised as royal, 
are worthy of mention, as they represent a custom of the 
Soudan, where, amongst terms of peace, the demand of 
a wife for the conqueror from the royal family of the 
conquered almost invariably appears. They also indi- 
cate a gentle method by which the amalgamation of 
conquered provinces was made secure. There was no 
province of the empire from whom the future Emperor 
or Caliph of the Soudan might not be taken. Askia 
the Great lived, as will be seen, to an unusual old age. 
There reigned after him in succession four of his sons. 
The mother of the eldest of these, Askia Moussa, was 
taken from the household of the Hombori Koi, a con- 
quest made in the Bend of the Niger while Mohammed 
was still minister of Sonni Ali. The mother of the 
second of his successors, Askia Ismail, was the Wan- 
kori girl first mentioned, very probably Fulani by birth, 
who was taken from Melle. The mother of the third, 
Askia Ishak, was from Tendirma, also the result of a 
conquest of the western province. The mother of the 
fourth, Askia Daouad, came from Sana, and was the 
daughter of the subject King or Koi of that province. 
Other marriages, although they did not give successors 
to the throne, gave personages of high importance and 
influence in the political administration of the country. 
Viceroys, governors, generals, admirals, inspectors, cadis, 
and officials whose functions it is not now easy to 
determine but whose titles were so eagerly sought as 
to show them to have been accompanied by consider- 
able emoluments and power, were frequently selected 



from the sons and nephews of the kings. Oriental his- 
tory has demonstrated that such a system has its serious 
inconveniences, and the Soudan was no exception to the 
rule, for if on the one hand the honours of the kingdom 
were opened freely to the best blood of every province, 
the system also created an excessive number of claimants 
for all preferment, and gave rise to labyrinths of intrigue, 
which not infrequently upset for personal motives the wisest 
plans. Successions were too often accompanied by the 
private murder or public massacre of superfluous co-heirs. 

After the campaign against Borgu, which would appear 
to have been very severe, there followed further cam- 
paigns against Melle, and in 15 12 there arose in the West 
a Fulani false prophet, Tayenda, against whom the Askia 
marched with success. Tayenda was killed. His son 
Kalo fled with the remnant of his troops to the Fouta 
Djallon, a country which at that time belonged to the 
Djolfs, and founded a second Fulani kingdom, which 
continued to exist even after the Moorish conquest of 
the Soudan. Towards the end of the same year, 15 12, 
the Askia marched into the Haussa states. 

The very meagre account which we have of the cam- 
paigns which appear to have occupied his troops in that 
region for the next few years, constitute the first mention 
of any importance of the Haussa States from the point 
of view of the Songhay Empire. These states, which 
at the present day constitute the greater part of 
Northern Nigeria, have a history of their own which 
dates back as far as that of Songhay itself. 

At the time of the Askia's conquests in the first half 
of the sixteenth century they were an agricultural and 
commercial people who, situated as they were between 
the two powerful empires of Songhay on the one hand 
and Bornu on the other, had already suffered the tide 
of conquest to sweep over them more than once in the 
course of their long existence. Yet always as the waters 
of war subsided, they had emerged with independence, and 
by means partly of a not despicable courage and partly of 


payments, which were called either tribute or subsidy 
according to the humour of those who received and 
those who paid, they had sustained the continuity of 
their history and the individuality of their political life. 

Katsena and Zaria, two of the states, would seem to 
have had some cause of quarrel with their more power- 
ful neighbour Kano, and to have in the first instance 
solicited the intervention of the Askia. There are hints 
of some shadowy claim of suzerainty on the part of 
Songhay, which may have been the survival of previous 
and unrecorded conquests. Whatever the cause, Askia 
marched first against Katsena and took it in 15 13. 
He also made himself master of Zaria and Zamfara — 
this last province being mentioned as especially rich in 
cotton and other crops — and proceeded to march against 
Kano and Gober. The conquest of Kano cost him a 
long siege, but both states fell to his arms, nnd were 
made tributary to Songhay. He then marched against 
the Sultan of Aghadez, a Berber kingdom lying north 
of the Haussa States, and stated by some authors to 
have been tributary to Songhay. Tekadda, in the desert 
to the west, was at one time, as we have seen, tributary 
to Melle, and causes of dispute between border provinces 
were not difficult to find. After a campaign which lasted 
for two years Aghadez yielded, and an annual tribute of 
150,000 ducats was imposed upon it. 

In Aghadez in the sixteenth century we have the 
counterpart of Audoghast in the eleventh century, and it 
furnishes again an example of a rich white town ruled by 
blacks. Aghadez was, we are told, at the time of the 
Songhay conquest, a wealthy town inhabited by white 
people, in which the houses were stately mansions, built 
after the fashion of Spain and Barbary, and the greater 
part of the citizens were either foreign merchants, artificers, 
or government officials. 

It was on the return of the Askia's armies from 
this campaign that Kanta, an important chief of territory, 
conquered, as has been mentioned, some thirty years 


previously by Sonni Ali, dissatisfied with the treatment 
which had been accorded to him, revolted, and established 
an independent province, still known as Kanta, on the 
eastern side of the Niger. At a later date the whole 
of the province of Kebbi became subject to him. A 
campaign directed specially against him in the year 
151 7 was unavailing. The independence of Kebbi was 
maintained against all succeeding Askias, though its 
territory was enclosed in the territory of Songhay and 
its tributaries on all sides, and ultimately Kebbi became 
the bulwark which saved Haussaland from the encroach- 
ments of the Moors, when they attempted to overrun 
it from the west. During the years 1517-18 there was 
further successful fighting in the western portion of the 
empire. From this time to the end of the Askias' reign 
in 1528 peace would seem to have prevailed. 

Askia the Great reigned altogether thirty-six years, 
during the whole of which time his minister, Ali Folen, 
continued to be the faithful assistant of his counsels and 
the interpreter of his wishes to the people. 

I have thought it well very briefly to summarise the 
military history of the reign in order that the borders 
of the empire over which the rule of the Askia ex- 
tended might be defined, but war was far from being 
the principal subject either of the Askia's or of his 
people's thoughts. The administrative organisation of 
the empire occupied his immediate care, and a parallel 
of the system which he partly adopted, and partly de- 
veloped, from the already existing sytem of Melle, may 
perhaps be most nearly found in our own early adminis- 
tration of India. Native rulers continued to occupy 
positions of dignity and quasi-independence, and would 
seem to have been even permitted in some cases to 
levy troops, on the understanding that they furnished a 
regular quota to the imperial army. But the repre- 
sentatives of Songhay were supreme in all parts of the 
empire, and over the heads of the native rulers there 
was a complete network of Songhay administration. 


By the acquisition of the Haussa States the territory 
of the empire was carried from Bornu on the borders 
of Lake Chad to the Atlantic. The southern Hmits had 
been securely extended, by the final conquest and con- 
version of Mossi and the subjection of Borgu, to the 
mountains which divide the uplands of the interior from 
the jungle of the coast. Its northern frontier was re- 
established on the old limits of the Mellestine, being so 
far enlarged in the north-east by the conquest of Aghadez 
as to command the Tripoli- Fezzan route into the desert. 
It already commanded the routes entering on the west 
from Sidjilmessa and Wargelan. Thus Songhay held 
the southern side of the three already mentioned "gates 
of the desert," and in language of latitude and longitude 
the empire may be described as extending, in the middle 
of the sixteenth century, from about 17° west to 13° east, 
and from about 10° to between 25° and 30° north. Its 
shape, however, was not that of a parallelogram, but 
rather that of a figure enclosed within a great semicircle, 
of which the base, extending from the country south of 
Lake Chad to the Atlantic, measured about 2000 miles, 
while the greatest diameter, taken at right angles to the 
base due north in the neighbourhood of Twat, measured 
a little over 1000 miles. 

For the purposes of administration this vast empire 
was divided into the home provinces and the vice- 
royalties. There were four vice-royalties. Beginning 
at the west, the first vice-royalty was called Kormina, 
and was composed of the south-western provinces, in- 
cluding what remained of the dismembered Melle, the 
Fulani State of Masina, the country of the pagan 
Bambaras, and the territory lying between the Niger 
and the Atlantic, up to the limit at which it met the 
frontier line of the second vice-royalty known as Bal 
or Bala. The vice-royalty of Bal took in the north- 
western provinces, including Ghanata, and extended from 
Timbuctoo to the salt-mines of Tegazza. The frontier 
of Bal was conterminous in the desert with the frontier 


of the third vice-royalty of Bankou, which covered the 
country extending north-east from the river between 
Timbuctoo and Kagho or Gao. The eastern frontier 
of Bankou was again conterminous in the desert, pro- 
bably about the limits of Tekadda, with that of the 
great vice-royalty of Dandi, which seems to have had 
an extension in the east equal to that of Kormina in 
the west. It reached from the eastern end of the southern 
mountains, in the neighbourhood of the province now 
known as Yoruba, at the back of Lagos, and after in- 
cluding Borgu and the country as far north as Gao on 
the western side of the Niger, it spread over the 
eastern side of the river as far as Aghadez in the north- 
east, and across the Haussa States to the borders of 
Wangara and Bornu near Lake Chad. 

The exact frontiers of the vice-royalties are unknown. 
Presumably they did not always remain the same. But 
roughly speaking, if the Niger be divided into the four 
sections which have been indicated, that is, from the 
sources of the river in the west to Jenne, from Jenne 
to Timbuctoo, from Timbuctoo to Gao, and from Gao 
to a point above the junction with the Benue, which 
might perhaps be fixed at the Boussa rapids above 
Jebba, radiating lines drawn from the meeting points 
of those four sections to the circumference of the empire 
will serve to give a fairly definite impression of the 
political division of the outlying provinces. 

The territory which remained, and which was en- 
closed between the river and the southern mountains 
in the area now known as the Bend of the Niger, was 
divided into the home provinces. Of these there were 
several of importance. Amongst them may be named 
Hombouri, Sansanding, and Bandouk. The old capital 
of the empire, and the residence always preferred by the 
great Askia, was Kagho, now represented only by the 
unimportant little town of Gao. But the true centre of 
political, religious, and commercial life was Timbuctoo. 



To cross the dominions of the Askia was, we are told, a 
six months' journey. Yet so effective were the measures 
taken by him for its administration, that before the 
end of his reign, the result is thus summarised by his 
historian : " He was obeyed with as much docility on 
the farthest limits of the empire as he was in his own 
palace, and there reigned everywhere great plenty and 
absolute peace." 

He laboured unceasingly to introduce the reforms 
which he thought desirable, and to appoint to every 
position of importance men whom he could trust to 
supervise his measures. The reformation of the army 
and the church, which had occupied the opening years 
of his reign, represented but the beginning of the care 
which he continued to bestow upon these two great 
institutions. The evolution of systems of government 
suitable to the widely differing peoples over whom he 
ruled, the development of trade, the protection of letters 
and the opening of communications, were among ques- 
tions to which he gave much of his time. Moslem judges 
were appointed in the lesser towns, which up to this time 
had been content with the services of scribes or con- 
ciliators ; and among the biographies of upright judges 
given to us by Ahmed Baba or Es Sadi, the comment 
is not infrequent : "He was one of those appointed by 
Askia the Great." There was a state prison for political 
offenders, which seems to have served a purpose similar 
to that of the Tower of London, and the courtyard of the 

prison of Kanato was no less famous in local annals than 



Tower Hill. The general rule would seem to have been 
a rule of mildness, but it is to be noted that inhuman 
punishments which, in their survival, shock the sentiment 
of the twentieth century, were used on occasions which 
called for exceptional severity. Among these, burying 
alive in bottle-shaped holes, which were closed over the 
head of the victim, and sewing up in the hides of oxen 
or wild beasts, are two which connect the criminal code 
of Songhay with the past and with the present. The 
sewing up of victims in the skins of wild beasts was, 
it may be remembered, practised in Rome under the 
Emperor Makrinus, and was still in use at a much 
later period. The practice of burying alive remained 
among the punishments of the Soudan, and was only 
abolished in the states acknowledging British rule by the 
expedition to Sokoto and Kano in 1903. Askia the 
Great does not seem to have gone the length of codify- 
ing the Songhay laws, but the attention which was given 
to the study of law, and the long lists of distinguished 
lawyers who are mentioned in the annals of this and the 
succeeding reigns, would seem to indicate that Moham- 
medan law was generally accepted and practised through 
the Songhay Empire, with only such local modification as 
experience may have suggested. The system of local 
law existing at the present day in the Haussa States is 
admirable in theory. In the decadence of the country it 
is the administration of it which has failed. 

Askia also introduced a reform of the markets. A 
unification of weights and measures was drawn up. 
Inspectors of the markets — an office which already 
existed under the Sultans of Melle — were selected with 
special care. They were enjoined to keep close watch 
over the introduction of the new system, and any falsifi- 
cation was severely punished. The markets were, it is 
said, rendered so honest, that a child might go into the 
market-place and would bring back full value for value 
sent. The Niger was, of course, the great highway of 
commerce, and the towns situated upon it were the prin- 


cipal centres of trade. Jenn6, which continued to be 
enriched by a great cotton industry, was looked upon 
as the principal market for internal trade. Timbuctoo 
governed the trade of the west and north-west, including 
relations with Morocco and the coast. Kagho, or Gao, 
governed the trade of the east and north-east, including 
relations with Egypt and Tripoli, but in the Haussa States 
Kano had long been an important trading centre ; and 
Gober, Zamfara, and Zaria — all rich in local produce, 
especially cotton, for which their soil and climate was 
said to be particularly fitted — possessed a well-established 
and busy trade. Aghadez formed a very wealthy station 
on the main north-eastern trade route, and it is not 
improbable that the cause of the war which occupied 
the armies of the Askia for two years had its origin 
in the commercial rivalry of that town with the town 
of Tekadda, on the borders of the vice-royalty of 

Systems of banking and credit, which seem to have 
existed under the kings of Melle, were improved. Bank- 
ing remained chiefly in the hands of the Arabs, from 
whom letters of credit could be procured, which were 
operative throughout the Soudan, and were used by the 
black travelling merchants as well as by Arab traders. 
Commerce, as was to be expected, developed greatly 
under the encouragement and security given to it by 
the Askia's measures. 

With the increase of commerce and luxury came also 
the gradual refinement and softening of manners which 
accompany wealth in a community where military service 
is no longer a universal obligation. The reforms of the 
great Askia did not neglect the department of morals. 
The great freedom prevailing in the intercourse of men 
and women was among the scandals for which he would 
seem to have endeavoured, but without much success, to 
legislate. He seems to have instituted a body of cor- 
rectional police, who were charged with the prevention of 
any infringement of the laws. Women were placed on the 


same footing as in the harems of the East, and obliged to 
veil themselves when they appeared in public. Never- 
theless, Timbuctoo remained ever celebrated for the 
luxury of its habits and the gaiety and licence of its 
manners. Music, dress, dancing, and amusement formed, 
say its indignant chroniclers, the principal objects of 
life to a large portion of the population. The immense 
domestic establishments of the East would seem to have 
excited in the Askia no displeasure. He was himself 
the father of a hundred sons, of whom the youngest was 
born when he was ninety years of age. But his influence 
appears to have been strongly and indignantly excited 
against forms of licence which exceeded the bounds 
of this very liberal standard of morality. His adviser, 
in respect to these reforms, was a learned fanatic of 
the name of El Mocheili, whose writings remain to 
attest the workings of the royal mind. The Askia's 
own sons, less rigid in their principles than their 
father, did not escape when punishment seemed to 
him to be due to their offences. El Mocheili, whose 
advice was at times more enthusiastic than discreet, 
was among those who are said to have influenced the 
Askia in the direction of the religious persecution of 
the Jews. 

Another great counsellor of the Askia, whose name 
has been preserved, was a Marabout of the name of 
Mohammed Koti, a scholar and writer of great emi- 
nence, the author, amongst other things, of a history 
of the kingdoms of Ghanata, Songhay, and Timbuctoo, 
called "The Fatassi," which has unfortunately been lost. 
M. Felix Dubois, who, after diligent search, was able to 
recover a few fragments of this valuable work, gives an 
interesting account of the destruction of the only existing 
copy of the history by the Fulani, as late as the middle 
of the nineteenth century. The author was born in 
1460, and survived Askia the Great by fourteen years, 
being connected during the whole period of the reign 
with public affairs. Under the influence of Koti and 


other distinguished scholars, letters received well-directed 
sympathy and encouragement. 

After the siege of Aiwalatin in 1480, there began 
a gradual but steady flow of learning and cultivation from 
that decadent capital of Ghanata to Timbuctoo. The 
death of Sonni Ali and the accession of Mohammed gave 
confidence to this movement, which soon gathered force 
and volume, and we are enabled to reconstruct from 
the writings of Ahmed Baba, who was himself born 
during the reign of Askia Daouad, the fourth and last 
reigning son of the great Askia, some picture of the 
intellectual and literary revival of Timbuctoo. 

The University of Sankore would seem to have been 
a very active centre of civilisation. It was attached to 
the mosque of the same name, and was in correspondence, 
both by letter and by the frequent visits of its professors, 
with the universities of North Africa and Egypt. It 
was already in existence under the rule of Melle, and 
at that time was in touch with the universities of Spain- 
The latter source of knowledge was now, of course, cut 
off, by the cessation of intercourse between Spain and 
Africa. But, as the first result of the expulsion of the 
Moors was to drive the more learned Arabs of Spain 
into the recesses of the University of Fez, the full effect 
of the measure had not yet been felt. On the contrary, 
the life of Timbuctoo had probably received some stimu- 
lus from the influx of learning to Morocco. The his- 
torians of Timbuctoo distinctly state that civilisation and 
learning came to it from the West. In the middle of 
the sixteenth century there existed in the town, side by 
side with the luxury of the court and the frivolity of 
fashion, a large and learned society, living at ease, and 
busily occupied with the elucidation of intellectual and 
religious problems. The town swarmed also with 
Soudanese students, of whom we are optimistically told 
that they " were filled with ardour for knowledge and 

The more distinguished professors would seem to 


have had schools in which they gave courses of lectures, 
attended by students, who afterwards received diplomas 
from the hands of their masters. In the biographical 
sketches of Ahmed Baba, the master from whom diplo- 
mas were received is mentioned as regularly as the 
school or university in which a man receives his educa- 
tion is mentioned in similar English works. A sketch 
which Ahmed Baba gives of one of the principal pro- 
fessors under whom he himself had studied, may serve 
to indicate the type of sage who was revered by the 
youth of Timbuctoo, and incidentally presents a picture 
of local scholastic life. 

Mohammed Abou Bekr of Wankore, his pupil tells 
us, writing himself as an old man forty or fifty years later, 
was "one of the best of God's virtuous creatures. He 
was a working scholar, and a man instinct with goodness. 
His nature was as pure as it was upright. He was him- 
self so strongly impelled towards virtue, and had so high 
an opinion of others, that he always considered them as 
being so to speak his equals, and as having no knowledge 
of evil. He did not believe in the bad faith of the world, 
but always thought well of his fellow-creatures until they 
had committed a fault, and even after they had committed 
a fault. Calm and dignified, with a natural distinction 
and a modesty that rendered intercourse with him easy, 
he captured all hearts. Every one who knew him loved 
him." He taught during the whole of a long life, while 
at the same time he continued to take an active interest, 
and even some part, in public affairs. The Sultan, who 
shared the general respect for him, offered him the 
lucrative appointment of Governor of the Palace, but he 
refused it — "God having," he said, "delivered him from 
such cares." He was also offered the appointment of 
principal preacher to the great mosque, but that also he 
prayed the Sultan to excuse him from accepting. He 
was apparently wealthy, and possessed a fine library. 
"His whole life was given," says Ahmed Baba, "to 
the service of others. He taught his pupils to love 


science, to follow its teachings, to devote their time to 
it, to associate with scholars, and to keep their minds 
in a state of docility. He lavishly lent his most precious 
books, rare copies, and the volumes that he most valued, 
and never asked for them again, no matter what was 
the subject of which they treated." Sometimes " a 
student would present himself at the door and ask for 
a book, and he would give it without even knowing who 
the man was." Ahmed Baba recalls with affection an 
instance when he himself wanted a rare work on grammar, 
and the master not only lent it, but spent a long time 
searching through his library for other works which 
might help to elucidate his pupil's difficulties. " It was 
astonishing to see him," says Ahmed Baba; "and he 
acted thus, notwithstanding the fact that he had a passion 
for books, and that he collected them with ardour, 
both buying and causing them to be copied." It is not, 
alas! surprising to hear that "in this way he lost a 
great quantity of his books." 

His industry in teaching was equalled only by his 
patience. " When I knew him," says Ahmed Baba, 
"he used to begin his lectures after the first prayer, 
and continued them until the second prayer at half-past 
nine, varying the subjects of which he treated. He 
then returned home for the prayer, and after it usually 
went to the cadi to occupy himself with public affairs. 
After that he taught at his own house till mid-day. He 
joined the public mid-day prayers, and then continued 
his lectures at home till the fourth prayer. Then he 
went out and lectured in another place until twilight. 
After the sunset prayer, he taught in the mosque until 
the last night prayer, and then returned to his own house. 
No pupil was too stupid or too ignorant for him. He 
never allowed himself to be discouraged, or to despair 
of gaining an entrance into the understanding of his 
hearer. Sometimes, indeed, his patience with the stupid 
was so great, that the more intelligent members of the 
class were moved to wonder and impatience. " He 


must have drunk the water of Zem-Zem to be able 
to stand it," was the comment of one of Ahmed 
Baba's fellow-pupils on such an occasion. But Ahmed 
Baba, in faithful remembrance, forgets the impatience 
of youth, and keeps only admiration. " His like," he 
says, "will never be found again." The mind of this 
teacher is described as "subtle, sagacious, ready, swift 
to comprehend. His intelligence was broad and lumi- 
nous. His usual manner was taciturn and grave, but 
he would occasionally break into sallies of wit. He 
occupied himself with what concerned him, listened to 
no gossip, and took part in no frivolity, but "wrapped 
himself in a magnificent mantle of discretion and re- 
serve. His hand held fast the standard of continence." 

In the atmosphere of laborious calm which is pic- 
tured by such a rule of existence, the sages of Timbuctoo 
would seem to have lived and carried on their labours 
to advanced old age. It is impossible not to be struck 
by the long periods of activity which are assigned to 
distinguished scholars. Ahmed Baba himself was born 
in 1556, and did not die till 1627, writing industriously 
during the greater part of his grown-up life. Nor was 
his career exceptional in this respect. Seventy, eighty, 
and even ninety, are ages at which men were still fre- 
quently to be found at work. 

The study of law, literature, grammar, and theology 
would seem to have been more general at Timbuctoo 
than that of the natural sciences. We hear, however, of 
at least one distinguished geographer, and allusions to 
surgical science show that the old maxim of the Arabian 
schools, "He who studies anatomy pleases God," was 
not forgotten. At a later date (16 18) the author of the 
Tarikh incidentally mentions that his brother came from 
Jenn6 to Timbuctoo to undergo an operation for cataract 
at the hands of a celebrated surgeon there — an operation 
which was wholly successful. The appearance of comets, so 
amazing to Europe of the Middle Ages, is also noted calmly, 
as a matter of scientific interest, at Timbuctoo. Earth- 


quakes and eclipses excite no great surprise. In the sketch 
which has just been quoted of Mohammed Wankore, the 
teachers under whom this professor himself learnt Arabic 
are named, showing that Arabic was by no means considered 
to be the language of Timbuctoo. That language was 
Songhay, and if the civilisation of Timbuctoo came from 
the West, it was wedded within the city walls to the 
traditions and the forms of expression of the East. 

Travellers give us a picture of the town as it existed 
in the early part of the sixteenth century. The houses, 
which would seem to have been fairly spacious, were 
built, some say of clay, and some of wood covered with 
plaster — the roofs, like the Dutch buildings of South 
Africa, being universally thatched. The mosques are 
described as stately buildings of cut stone and lime, and 
there was a "princely palace," of which the walls were 
also of cut stone and lime. There were a great many 
shops and factories, "especially," says Leo Africanus, who 
was there in 1526, "of such as weave linen and cotton 
cloth." The court maintained by the Askias is described 
by Marmol as being so well ordered that it yielded in 
nothing spiritual or temporal to the courts of Northern 
Africa. Under the successors of Askia the Great, the 
palace was enlarged and greatly embellished, the court 
being then thronged with courtiers in ever-increasing 
numbers. The habits of dress became sumptuous, and 
it would seem from incidental allusions that different 
functionaries had their different uniforms and insignia 
of office, to the wearing of which great value was at- 
tached. The dress and appointments of women became 
also extravagantly luxurious. They were served on gold. 
In full dress their persons were covered with jewels, and 
the wives of the rich when they went out were attended 
by well-dressed slaves. 

Amongst the possessions of the rich, large libraries 
and good horses would seem, in Askia the Great's time, 
to have been the most valued. The libraries of wealthy 
and learned citizens are frequently mentioned, and horses 


from Barbary would always fetch their price. The king 
was specially fond of horses, paid for them liberally, and 
always caused himself to be informed when good ones 
were brought into the town for sale. Gold plate was 
also apparently remarkable. Leo Africanus says that " the 
rich king of Timbuctoo had many plates and sceptres 
of gold, of which some weighed as much as 1300 lbs." 
As we are not told that the Askia was waited on by a 
race of giants, we may permit ourselves to doubt the state- 
ment that he caused himself to be served on trays that 
weighed 1300 lbs. Yet we may remember the famous 
missorium or dish for the service of the table, which in 
the sixth century was found by the Franks in the Gothic 
palace of Narbonne, and of which even the grave and 
careful Gibbon accepts the statement that it weighed 500 
lbs. of massy gold. Taken in conjunction with previous 
accounts of the gold plate of the sovereigns of Melle and 
the maofnificent arms of their retainers, this statement 
may at least be accepted as showing that the court of 
the Askias was well supplied with the precious metal. 

Among the amusements of the town, music held 
always a high place, and under Askia the Great's suc- 
cessors, orchestras, provided with singers of both sexes, 
were much frequented. Of Askia the Great him- 
self, it is said that "his mind was set towards none 
of these things." Chess-playing, of a kind which is 
particularly described as "Soudanese chess," was some- 
times carried to the extreme of a passion. We hear 
of a general in the reign of one of the succeeding 
Askias, who gave it as an excuse for allowing himself 
to be surprised by the enemy's cavalry, that he was so 
much absorbed in a game of chess as not to have paid 
attention to the reports of his scouts. The whole town 
in Askia the Great's day was very rich, the people 
living with great abundance, and trade was active. 
The currency was of gold, without any stamp or super- 
scription, but for small objects in the native markets 
shells were still used. 


A very great trade was done both here and at 
Kagho in cotton, which was exchanged for European 
cloth. Unfortunately their relative value is not men- 
tioned. We are told only that the money price of fine 
European cloth was reckoned at fifteen ducats an ell, 
and for scarlet of Venice or Turkey cloth, Leo says 
they would give as much as thirty ducats an ell. In 
Kagho he says that it was "a wonder to see what 
plenty of merchandise is daily brought hither, and how 
costly and sumptuous all things be." Marmol, who 
wrote about thirty years later than Leo, specially 
dwells upon the cotton trade of Jenne, Melle, Tim- 
buctoo, Gober, Kano, Zamfara, and Bornu. Both Leo 
and Marmol, who are worth quoting, as being writers 
professedly antagonistic to the Soudan, speak of the 
great trade done in manuscripts and written books from 
Barbary, which, they say, "are sold for more money 
than any other merchandise " ; and Leo was at least so 
far aware of the literary life of Timbuctoo as to note 
that " Here are great store of doctors, judges, priests, 
and other learned men." 

It is interesting and remarkable that while Tim- 
buctoo undoubtedly dominated the life of the Songhay 
Empire, and was the first town of the Soudan, many 
other towns are almost equally noticed by travellers for 
their trade and for the learning of which they were the 
centre. Marmol, writing in the reign of Askia Daouad, 
speaks of Melle as not only rich in trade but also in 
learning, having its own schools of science and religion. 
The writers of Timbuctoo themselves make frequent 
allusions to learned doctors of Melle, Aiwalatin, Jenne, 
and Katsena. In Masina also there were an "immense 
number of distinguished men of letters and divines." 
Even the far distant Tekadda is named as the seat in 
which El Mocheili chose to establish his school, when, 
as a consequence of his fanatical hatred of the Jews, 
he was driven from the western part of the Soudan. 
Marmol says that in his day Songhay was the lan- 



guage commonly spoken in Ghanata, that is, the most 
westerly of the provinces of the empire. The state- 
ment sounds improbable, as seventy-five years of a 
mild foreign rule would hardly suffice to change the 
language of a people; but it is possible that Songhay 
may have been the officially adopted language of the 



AsKiA THE Great reigned for thirty-six years. It is 
sorrowful to have to relate that he was not allowed to 
finish his life upon the throne which he had so con- 
spicuously adorned. In 1528 he, being- by that time 
blind, and being supposed to have fallen too com- 
pletely under the influence of Ali Folen, was deposed 
by his eldest son, who ascended the throne under the 
title of Askia Moussa, and reigned only for three years. 
During his reign the old Askia lived in comfort in 
his favourite palace and farm near Kagho ; while Ali 
Folen, after a first flight to Aiwalatin, made his way 
to Kano with the intention of performing once again 
the pilgrimage to Mecca, but, falling ill, died and 
was buried in that town. On the death of Moussa 
the throne of the Askias was usurped by a nephew, 
Mohammed Benkan, the son of the great Askia's 
favourite and profoundly trusted brother. The son did 
not repay with gratitude the many favours which his 
dead father had received. Not content with sitting on 
the Askia's throne, he removed the blind old man from 
his palace, and confined him in miserable quarters on 
an island in the Niger. But his ill-doing brought de- 
served punishment in its train. 

In an interview which is related as taking place 
between the deposed monarch and his son Ismail — a 
young man of twenty-seven years of age, who came to 
visit him one night in the island in which he was con- 
fined — we see the vigour which had inspired the life 
of the old Askia still unextinguished. Ismail sat down 


before his father. The Askia, taking hold of his son's 
arm, said: "Heavens! how can an arm Hke this allow 
mosquitoes to devour me, and frogs to leap upon 
me, when there is nothing which so revolts me ? " 
Ismail, the son of that Miriam who was married after 
the great campaign of Melle, was an upright but not 
brilliant representative of his father's stock. He replied 
with grief that he could do nothing. The Askia 
answered by telling him where there was a secret stock 
of money ; who were the men that he could trust ; how 
he was to come into touch with them ; and, sitting in 
his miserable dungeon in all the feebleness of blind old 
age, the still unconquered monarch planned and dictated 
a scheme by which his unworthy nephew was removed 
from the throne he had usurped, and Ismail was seated 
upon it in his place. Under the protection of Ismail 
the old Askia returned with honour to his palace, and 
died there in 1538 at an age which cannot have been 
far short of a hundred. 

Ismail reigned only two years, and was succeeded 
in 1539 by his brother Ishak, a cruel but very able 
prince, who, after a reign of nearly ten years, was suc- 
ceeded in his turn by another brother, Askia Daouad, 
the most distinguished of all the great Askia's sons. 
Askia Daouad reigned from 1548 to 1582. After him 
three more Askias of the next generation brought this 
brilliant period of the history of the Soudan to an end. 
When Ishak, the son of Askia Mohammed, was at the 
height of his power, Muley Hamed, the Sultan of 
Morocco, called upon him to give up his right to the 
great western salt mine of Tegazza. His spirited answer, 
read by the light of subsequent history, has a prophetic 
ring. " The Hamed who makes such a demand," he 
replied, "can hardly be the great Emperor of Morocco; 
the Ishak who can listen to it is not I. That Ishak 
has still to be born." The Ishak who would listen 
was born in the next generation of Askias, and it was 
under Ishak II. in 1591 that the salt mines were taken. 


and the Empire of Songhay was overthrown by the 

Under Askia Daouad we hear of the murder of 
the Songhay governor of Tegazza by the instigation of 
the Emperor of Morocco. Work at the salt mines be- 
came so dangerous, and the interruption of the salt trade 
was so frequent, that Askia Daouad was led to authorise 
the opening of another salt mine which was found 
in the desert ; but Askia Daouad abated nothing of 
the claims of his father, although he and a succeeding 
Muley Ahmed came to a friendly understanding. Be- 
fore the end of the sixteenth century, conflict between 
the troops of Songhay and the troops of Morocco, on 
the question of the salt mines, was clearly becoming 

Under Askia Daouad military expeditions were re- 
newed on all the borders of the empire. Melle and 
the Fulani provinces of the west — Mossi, Borgu, Boussa, 
Gurma, all in turn gave occasion for the exercise of 
military activity. It is during the military expeditions 
of Askia Daouad that we get definite accounts of the 
contingents furnished by subordinate Kois. Two Kois 
are mentioned in one of the western campaigns as fur- 
nishing 12,000 men each, which, it is said, was their 
regular contingent. An expedition was sent also into 
the Haussa States, and the campaign against Katsena 
in 1554 was remarkable for an incident which did equal 
honour to both sides. In an encounter between the 
Songhay and the Haussa troops, twenty - four picked 
cavaliers of Songhay sustained a long and desperate 
struggle against a regiment of 400 Haussa soldiers. 
They were at last overpowered, fifteen of them being 
killed. The remaining nine, all badly wounded, were 
taken prisoners, and the Haussa soldiers were so im- 
pressed by their courage that they dressed their wounds, 
nursed them with the greatest care, supplied their wants, 
and then set them at liberty, sending them back to 
Askia Daouad with the courteous assurance that "men 


so brave should not be allowed to die." Other expeditions 
occupied the greater part of this reign. As a result of 
a successful campaign in Melle in 1559, Askia Daouad, 
like his father, married a daughter of the house of Melle. 
Here is the description, given by the Tarikh, of her 
bridal train : "He caused the princess to be conducted 
to Songhay in a sumptuous equipage. She was covered 
with jewels, surrounded by numerous slaves, both men 
and women, and provided with an abundant baggage 
train. All the utensils of the household were of gold — 
dishes, pitchers, pestle and mortar, everything." Under 
Askia Daouad the town of Timbuctoo was much em- 
bellished. The great mosque of Mansa Musa was 
restored and enlarged. Two other mosques were also 
rebuilt, and the restoration of the Sankore Mosque was 
begun. These works were all undertaken and carried 
out under the inspiration of a very public-spirited cadi, 
whose name, El-Aquib, deserves to be remembered as 
a representative of illustrious learning, fearless justice, 
and disinterested devotion to public duty. Askia Daouad 
himself contributed handsomely to the rebuilding of the 
great mosque. 

The last military expedition of Askia Daouad's reign 
was a campaign conducted by his son, the Viceroy of 
the south-western province, against the Fulani of Masina. 
A lawless portion of the population of Masina had ven- 
tured to attack and pillage a royal boat laden with 
merchandise, which was on the way from Jenne. Such 
a thing, it is said, had never happened before under 
the dynasty of Songhay, and the indignant Viceroy 
resolved to make a terrible example of Masina. He 
ravaged the country with fire and sword, allowing his 
troops to massacre indiscriminately ; and in the general 
slaughter there perished, we are told, a great number 
of distinofuished scholars and divines. The Sultan of 
Masina fled to a place of safety till the storm had 
passed, and then returned to his estates. Askia Daouad 
entirely disapproved of the policy and conduct of his 


son. The massacre of Masina happened, however, in 
the spring of 1582, and before Askia Daouad had time 
to take any action in the matter, he died on his favourite 
estate near Kagho, on the 21st of August of that year. 
With him died the last of the great Askias. He was 
succeeded by his son, who, in consequence of having 
made the pilgrimage to Mecca, was known, like his 
illustrious grandfather, by the name of " El Hadj." He 
was an estimable prince, but an invalid, and he reigned 
only four years. He was succeeded in his turn by his 
brother, Mohammed Bano, a mere nullity, who occupied 
the throne for two years; and in 1588 that second Ishak, 
also a son of Askia Daouad, who lives in the tradition 
of the Soudan as "the worst of the Askias," closed the 
line of the independent sovereigns of Songhay. 

In bringing to an end this notice of the most remarkable 
dynasty of which we have any record in the Soudan, it is 
perhaps worth while to draw attention to the length of the 
reigns not only of the two most distinguished monarchs of 
this line, but generally of the more remarkable native 
sovereigns of the Soudan. The reign of Askia Daouad 
lasted for thirty-four years, that of Askia the Great for 
thirty-six years. Sonni Ali, whose life and whose reign 
were brought to an end only by an accident, reigned for 
thirty years. The great Mansa Musa reigned for twenty- 
four years. His brother, who after a short interval suc- 
ceeded him, reigned for twenty-six years. In the Desert 
Empire the son of the famous Teloutan, who had himself 
a very long reign, reigned from 837 till 910, that is, 
upwards of seventy years, and was then killed in battle. 
Nor was this longevity confined to the rulers of the 
country. It has already been mentioned that the common 
age to which men lived in the Desert Empire was eighty 
years, and the great age of the teachers and writers of 
Timbuctoo has been noticed. Public men not only lived 
to a great age, but kept their offices for long periods of 
time. The great Askia, after having been a successful 
general, was Prime Minister for thirty years before he 


became a monarch for thirty-six years. Ali Folen, his 
Prime Minister, already a chosen councillor whose fidelity 
had been approved in 1492, held office till the end of the 
sovereign's reign in 1528. Mohammed Goddala, the first 
Cadi of Timbuctoo appointed by the great Askia, a man 
highly distinguished both for learning and justice in the 
annals of his country, lived to the age of eighty-four, and 
was Cadi for fifty years. The Cadi el Aquib, who rebuilt 
the mosques of Timbuctoo under Askia Daouad, held his 
functions as Cadi for eighteen years. Mohammed Naddi, 
the famous Timbuctoo Koi, who, having held office under 
the Sultan of Melle, was reinstated by the Tuaregs on 
their capture of the town, had held office for more than 
thirty years when he died in 1464. It is needless to 
multiply examples ; but the longevity of the individual is 
an element of so much importance in the development of 
the race that, in view of the opinion usually entertained 
with regard to the climate and institutions of the Soudan, 
it seems interesting to establish the fact that there is 
nothing in the health conditions of the country which, for 
those who are acclimatised, is opposed to long and active 
life. As regards the institutions, continuity of office in 
the individual is nearly always coincident with stability in 
the state. Short reigns, short ministries, short military 
commands, are symptoms which seldom fail to indicate an 
unsettled and unsatisfactory condition of public life. Pros- 
perity and permanence go hand in hand ; and where we 
find judges, generals, viceroys, kings, holding their public 
positions for periods varying between twenty - five and 
fifty years, we may fairly argue a peaceful and prosperous 
condition of the country. 

The history of the Soudan offers no contradiction to 
the assumption that the life of the nation will correspond 
to the life of the individual. The duration of the 
Soudanese empires will bear comparison with that of 
others which are better known to fame. Ghana enjoyed 
an independent existence of about iioo years — that is, a 
period nearly equivalent to the period of existence of our 


own British monarchy from the abolition of the Saxon 
Heptarchy to the present day. Melle, who succeeded 
her, had a shorter national life of about 250 years. 
Songhay counted its kings in regular succession from 
about 700 A.D. to the date of the Moorish conquest in 
1 59 1 — a period which almost exactly coincides with the 
life of Rome from the foundation of the republic, 509 B.C., 
to the downfall of the empire in the first half of the 
fifth century of our era. The duration of the Empire of 
Bornu was, as will be seen, no less respectable. 

The civilisation represented by these empires was no 
doubt, if judged by a modern and still more by a Western 
standard, exceedingly imperfect. The principles of free- 
dom, as we understand them, were probably unknown. 
Authority rested upon force of arms. Industrial life was 
based on slavery. Social life was founded on polygamy. 
Side by side with barbaric splendour there was primeval 
simplicity. Luxury for the few took the place of comfort 
for the many. Study was devoted mainly to what seem 
to us unprofitable ends. These are grave drawbacks. 
Yet the fact that civilisation, far in excess of anything 
which the nations of Northern Europe possessed at the 
earlier period of Soudanese history, existed with stability 
enough to maintain empire after empire through a known 
period of about 1500 years, in a portion of the world 
which mysteriously disappeared in the sixteenth century 
from the comity of modern nations, is interesting enough 
to merit recognition, and, it seems to me, to justify some 
study of the new chapters of history presented to our 



The next great event of importance in the history of the 
Soudan is the conquest of the country by the Moors, but 
before approaching the narrative of this catastrophe it will 
be well to bring the history of Bornu and the Haussa 
States — which fill the last remaining section of the 
country lying between the Atlantic and Lake Chad — up 
to the point of their contemporary development in the 
sixteenth century. These portions of the Soudan are 
especially interesting to us, as they constitute at the 
present day the northern portion of the British Protec- 
torate of Nigeria. 

It has been said, in entering upon the history of 
the Songhay Empire, that in it we reached that part 
of the history of the Western Soudan in which the 
influence of the West and of the East visibly met and 
overlapped. In crossing the Niger, and passing to the 
territories which lie still farther east, we come to that 
part of the country in which the influence of the East 
begins more distinctly to predominate. 

To establish the grounds on which such influence may 
be presupposed, a short digression is necessary into what 
is knov/n of the geographical connection of the countries 
of Northern Africa with each other during a very early 
period of their history. 

The ancient civilisation of Egypt spread, as we know, 
from south to north, and without venturing to accept 
or to reject the assumption of some learned writers that 
it came originally by way of the Arabian Gulf from 
India, there is seemingly no doubt that the earliest seat 



of civilisation in Africa was the country watered by the 
Upper Nile, which was known by the name of Ethiopia 
to the ancients, and which lay in an easterly direction, 
between the very latitudes of 10° and 17° that on the 
western side of Lake Chad fixed the limits of habitation 
of the higher races of the Soudan. Monuments, of which 
a more or less consecutive chain can be traced from 
Nubia to the Straits of Bab-el- Mandeb, point to the 
existence in this territory, at a period of great antiquity, 
of a people possessing many of the arts of a relatively 
high civilisation. The principal state of this Ethiopian 
country bore the well-known name of Meroe. It occu- 
pied the territory watered by the Nile and its tribu- 
taries, of which the most northerly point is marked 
by the meeting of the Atbara and the Nile. The 
capital of Meroe was a city of the same name, which 
stood a little below the present Shendy, under 17° N. 
latitude, and in 32^^° E. longitude. That is to say, 
Meroe stood, like Ghana, on the extreme edge of the 
summer rains. The limits of the State of Meroe ex- 
tended probably at one time to the north of 17° and to 
the south of 10°. Those parallels may, however, be 
taken as indicating its permanent limits. 

This is not the place, nor am I competent to discuss 
the arguments which form the ground of belief that 
the civilisation of Meroe preceded that of Egypt. It is 
enough to say very briefly, that on the site of the city of 
Meroe there exist remains of temples and pyramids, from 
which archaeologists have drawn the conclusion that the 
pyramid was a form of architecture native to Meroe, and 
only afterwards brought to perfection in Egypt. It is evi- 
dent, from the decoration of the temples, that they were 
dedicated to the worship of Ammon. It is believed that 
the remains of the temple of the most famous oracle 
of Jupiter Ammon are to be found in ruins at about 
eight hours' journey to the north-east of Shendy. This 
temple of the oracle was known to exist within a few 
hours' journey of Meroe, and the priestly traditions of 


Ethiopia and Egypt assert that the worship of Ammon 
and Osiris, with its feasts and processions, was first 
settled at the metropolis of Meroe. This remark- 
able spot is regarded by the ancients as the "cradle 
of the arts and sciences, where hieroglyphic writing was 
discovered, and where temples and pyramids had already 
sprung up while Egypt still remained ignorant of their 
existence." From this temple the worship of Ammon 
and his attendant gods would seem to have spread to 
Egypt, and through the oasis of Siwah to Carthage and 
the Mediterranean coast. 

The carvincTs of the monuments of Meroe show a 
people in possession of the arts and luxuries of civilisation, 
and having some knowledge of science. On the base 
of one of the monuments a zodiac has been found, and 
in the more northerly monuments of Nubia, which por- 
tray the conquest of Meroe by Rameses the Great of 
Egypt at a much later date, the conquered nation is 
shown as being not only rich, civilised, and important, 
but also as possessing tributary states, presumably in 
Central Africa, whence came giraffes and other Central 
African produce. We learn from the same monuments 
that the women of Meroe were frequently armed, and 
appeared to live on equal terms with men. They are 
constantly portrayed as queens. The Empire of Meroe 
had its settled constitution and its laws. It was com- 
posed of many little states, but the whole were apparently 
governed by a priest-caste, and the portraits of priests, 
frequently repeated upon the monuments, show them as 
tall and slender, with handsome profile, red-brown in 
colour, and with hair indifferently straight or curled. 
The general population are believed to have been of the 
black and straight-haired Nubian race. Here is the 
conclusion drawn by a competent German critic, nearly 
a hundred years ago, from the discoveries made by 
Gau, Champollion, and others : " In Nubia and Ethiopia 
stupendous, numerous, and primeval monuments proclaim 
so loudly a civilisation contemporary to, aye, earlier than 


that of Egypt, that it may be conjectured with the greatest 
confidence that the arts, sciences, and religion descended 
from Nubia to the lower country of Misraim ; that civi- 
lisation descended the Nile, built Memphis, and fmally, 
something later, wrested by colonisation the Delta from 
the sea." ^ 

The monuments, though eloquent, are not the only 
grounds upon which this conclusion has been reached. 
The fame of the Ethiopians was widespread in ancient 
history. Herodotus describes them as " the tallest, the 
most beautiful and long-lived of the human race," and 
before Herodotus, Homer, in even more flattering lan- 
guage, described them as "the most just of men; the 
favourites of the gods." The annals of all the great 
early nations of Asia Minor are full of them. The Mosaic 
records allude to them frequently ; but while they are 
described as the most powerful, the most just, and the 
most beautiful of the human race, they are constantly 
spoken of as black, and there seems to be no other 
conclusion to be drawn, than that at that remote period 
of history the leading race of the Western world was 
a black race. When we reflect that this black race 
flourished within the very latitudes of Africa which 
European nations are now engaged in opening to 
modern civilisation, a great interest is added to the 
study of their possible descendants. 

The people of Ethiopia colonised to the north and 
west. Amongst their colonies to the north, one of the 
most important was Thebes. Thebes and Meroe to- 
gether founded the colony of Ammonium in the western 
desert, and through Thebes the religion of Meroe was 
carried into Lower Egypt. It was at a much later 
period, about 1500 B.C., that Egypt returned upon Meroe 
and conquered it. 

In the ancient world, as in ours, commerce and re- 
ligion were constantly associated. The routes of pil- 
grimage were also the routes of trade, and with the 

' Heeren, " Historical Researches : African Nations." 


help of the magnificent remains which have from 
time to time been discovered in the southern regions 
watered by the Nile and its tributary streams, it has 
been found possible to re-establish some of the great 
trade routes which were used by Meroe in the days of 
her prosperity. In briefly indicating them I follow the 
account given by Heeren in his " Historical Researches." 

There can be no doubt that from a very early period 
maritime commerce existed between India, Arabia, and 
the East African coasts. Probably at an even earlier 
period Chinese navigators frequented the shores of Africa. 
Marmol, writing of the East Coast of Africa in the six- 
teenth century, says: "There was a time when the 
Chinese navigated these shores as freely as the Portu- 
guese now do," and his statement obtains some modern 
corroboration from the fact that at the excavation, about 
twenty-five years ago, of Kilwa, once the capital of a 
native empire, upon the east coast of Africa, where 
three towns were superimposed upon one another, the 
lowest town was found to be full of Chinese coins. 
Commerce between the countries lying on the shores 
of the Indian Ocean was favoured by the fact, thus 
recorded by an ancient writer, that for " one half of the 
year, from spring to autumn, the wind regularly sets 
in and wafts the vessels from Arabia to India; the 
other half, from autumn to spring, it as regularly carries 
them back from India to Arabia." Arrian, in his 
" Periplus of the Erythrean Sea," written in the first 
century of our era, speaking of the commerce, which 
was then, of course, a matter of ancient, though also 
of contemporary history, says : " Before merchants sailed 
from Egypt to India, Arabia Felix was the staple (or 
market) both for Egyptian and Indian goods, just as 
Alexandria now is for the commodities of Egypt and 
foreign merchandise." The Indians nowhere appear as 
navigators ; the Arabians always do. It seems to be 
demonstrated that they possessed the navigation of the 
Indian Ocean, not only in our own medieval times, 


but certainly through the period of the Ptolemies, and 
probably much earlier. That they communicated with 
Ethiopia in early ages is not a matter of doubt. 

Africa contributed largely in gold and probably also 
in frankincense — which was obtained in the regions now 
known as Somaliland — to the ancient commerce of the 
Indian Ocean. Considering the position occupied by 
Arabia in that commerce, it is not surprising to find 
that the ports through which the trade entered Ethiopia 
were Asab and Adule, both situated within the Straits 
of Bab-el- Mandeb on the western shore of the Red 
Sea. Roads from these two points led to Axum, in the 
interior, on the western side of the Abyssinian Mountains, 
a town of which the colossal remains still testify to its 
ancient greatness. From Axum, which had its temples 
and was itself a great centre of trade, the road led north- 
westward through the State of Meroe to the town of 
the same name. The town of Meroe was a great centre, 
whence roads spread in many directions. The principal 
trade route led from Meroe northwards, either along the 
Nile or across the Nubian desert to Thebes, thence to the 
oasis of Siwah in the western desert, thence to Augela, 
often mentioned as an Egyptian colony, and thence 
south-westward to the site of the modern Murzuk in the 
Fezzan, whence communication was direct to Carthage 
and the Mediterranean coast. These last stations were 
at the head of the Tripoli-Fezzan route into the southern 
desert, and marked the junction of that route with the 
Egyptian route. There was a road from Meroe across 
the desert which ran due westward into Kordofan. This 
road still exists, but Burckhardt, who visited Shendy in 
1770, says that now, "as in ancient times," the commerce 
with the west is insignificant. It seems to result from 
the most careful investigation that the principal com- 
merce of the interior of Africa has always been carried 
on in two directions : that which has been described 
from Ethiopia through the Valley of the Nile, and that 
of the Soudan from the Niger to the Mediterranean 


coast. The Empire of Bornu, or Kanem, including at one 
time the present kingdoms of Wadai and Darfour, formed 
a separation between these two streams which have always 
run in parallel channels from south to north. This, at 
least, is the general opinion of explorers and historians, 
who, it is to be remembered, have necessarily written 
from the external point of view. What may have been 
at any given period the lateral branching of local native 
trade, is difficult for the European writer to determine. 

Heeren, in his researches into the trade of the Cartha- 
ginians and the Ethiopians, has been able to establish 
the existence of at least one important cross-road of 
communication, of which a portion has been already noted 
in tracing the direction of the main trade route, after it 
branched from Thebes westward to the oasis of Siwah 
and the Mediterranean coast. The western end of the 
road starting from Carthage ran in a south-easterly direc- 
tion through the Fezzan to the site of the present Murzuk. 
After making the junction at that point with the Egyptian 
road, it turned southwards to the Niger, and was the 
road which has been so often mentioned as the Tripoli- 
Fezzan road of the present day. Along this road the 
Carthaginians traded with the Niger for carbuncles, skins, 
gold, ivory, and other goods. 

Thus we get on unquestionable authority evidence of 
a well-established connection in very early times between 
Ethiopia and Egypt by the Valley of the Nile; between 
Egypt and Carthage by a road crossing the desert 
through Siwah and Augela, and between Carthage and 
the Niger by the present Tripoli-Fezzan route. If we 
take Murzuk and Thebes as lying almost on the same 
parallels of latitude outside the Tropic of Cancer, and 
Gao and Meroe as having also almost parallel positions 
on the edge of the summer rains, some eight degrees 
farther south, we get the four corners of an irregular 
parallelogram, of which three sides were in permanent 
communication with each other. The base of this paral- 
lelogram rests on the fertile belt, which crosses Africa 


between the parallels of 10° and 17°; and taking into 
consideration the fact that Mohammedan states now 
stretch continuously across it from Bornu to Fashoda, 
it seems in no way improbable that, at a period when 
the trade of Ethiopia was important enough to extend 
down the Valley of the Nile and across the difficult 
desert road from Thebes to Murzuk in the north, trade 
may also have found channels of extension along the 
fertile territories to the west. 

In corroboration of the view that the trade and in- 
fluence of Meroe may have extended farther west than 
has as yet been ascertained by modern exploration, I may 
mention a fact told me by Zebehr Pasha, when, during 
his confinement at Gibraltar in 1886, he related to me 
the history of the foundation of his ephemeral empire 
in the Bahr-el-Ghazal. It was that, having occasion to 
act as the military ally of a certain native king Tekkima, 
whose territory lay somewhere south and west of the 
spot marked upon modern maps as Dem Suleiman or 
Dem Zebehr — that is, presumably about 8° N. and 25° E., 
he was informed that he had to fight against magicians, 
who habitually came out of the earth, fought, and then 
disappeared. A careful system of scouting disclosed to 
him the fact that they came from under ground, and 
when, after cutting off their retreat and conquering them, 
he insisted upon being shown their place of habitation, 
he found it to be deeply buried in the sand, a wonder- 
ful system of temples "far finer," to use the words in 
which he described it, "than modern eyes have seen in 
the mosques of Cairo and Constantinople." It was, he 
said, such work of massive stone as was done only by 
the great races of old. Through this underground city of 
stone there ran a stream, and by the stream his native 
antagonists lived in common straw native huts. "Were 
your people, then," he asked them, "a nation of stone- 
cutters?" And they said, "Oh, no! This is not the 
work of our forefathers, but our forefathers found it here, 
and we have lived for many generations in these huts." 



Whether this accidental discovery of unknown monu- 
ments may yet be repeated farther west, and links be 
established in a continuous chain of ancient civilisation 
reaching from the Red Sea to the country west of Chad, 
or whether the civilisations of the western and the 
eastern ends of the fertile belt of the Soudan were 
in fact separated from one another by a sea of which 
the waters of Chad are but the disappearing trace, is, 
however, a question which, interesting as it is, becomes, 
in the light of the proved connection by the northern 
road, a question rather of detail than of principle. 

If there was no connection by the south, there cer- 
tainly was connection by the north, by means of which 
the early inhabitants of the Haussa States may have 
been brought under the same influences of civilisation 
which spread from Ethiopia to ancient Egypt and thence 
to Europe and Northern Africa. 



The annals of Egyptian history are not without some 
record of the very early connection which existed be- 
tween the valleys of the Niger and the Nile. To enter 
into the spirit of them we must be content to lose our- 
selves in semi-mythical periods when, according to the 
records collected and preserved by historic writers, Housal 
and his descendants reigned in Egypt. The name of 
Housal meant, we are told, " Servant of Venus." We 
may perhaps, therefore, carry back the date to a period 
when the Phoenicians dominated Egyptian politics, and 
the worship of Astarte or Venus Erycina was common 
in the Valley of the Nile. 

Already, before Housal, Egyptian kings had marched 
through the west and into the country of the blacks in 
the south, where they had seen ** wonderful things." 
But it is with his descendant, Nimrod the Powerful, who 
was also called Nimrod the son of Housal, that we 
obtain a direct link with the southern states. Nimrod, 
we are told, was a king famous for his justice, under 
whom the people of Egypt lived happily. But his dead 
brother had been married to a magician from the south. 
This magician fled with her son, on the accession of 
Nimrod, towards the south. There, by her charms, she 
raised a power for her son to claim the throne. Nimrod 
marched against her and was overthrown, and her son 
reigned in his stead. This is the Egyptian account. 
But the people of Yoruba, which is not one of the true 
Haussa States, but which is a province included within the 
British Protectorate in the back country of Lagos, claim 


to descend from Canaanites — that is, Phoenicians — of the 
tribe of Nimrod. They claim, further, that all the pagan 
tribes in the mountains of Haussaland descend from them, 
because in their southward journey they left, in every 
place they stopped at, a tribe of their own people in the 
mountains. Sultan Bello, who records this claim of the 
Yoruba people, was apparently unacquainted with the 
Egyptian story. But the coincidence between the two 
accounts is too striking to be ignored. The Nimrod 
the Powerful of Egyptian history, son of Housal, who 
worshipped the Phoenician gods, and Nimrod the Mighty, 
the first son of Canaan (or Phoenicia) of the Mosaic 
record, may fairly be taken as identical, and it is easy 
to comprehend how the dispersion of a large army, of 
which the component parts would be driven to take 
refuge where they could, might lead to just such a tradi- 
tion as that cherished by the Yoruba population of the 
present day. 

It is interesting also to observe in Egyptian records 
the constant reference to " magicians of the south." The 
part which magic played in the chronicles of Egypt is 
of course a matter of common knowledge. The whole 
north coast of Africa was, we are told, protected by 
talismans, burning glasses, and other marvels raised on 
pedestals, which were placed at intervals along the shore. 
Alexandria could not be built till talismans had been 
erected which had power to protect it from the monsters 
of the deep. Macrizi, in his " Historical Description of 
Egypt," written in the fifteenth century, has preserved 
for us accounts of some of the most famous talismans 
constructed by the kings, and quite as often by the 
queens, who reigned in the Valley of the Nile. We find 
there the magical bird with outspread wings, raised on a 
pedestal for protective purposes above towns or graves, 
which in the seventeenth century had still its prototype 
in the copper birds, described by Barbot as spreading 
their wings above all the best houses of Benin. The 
same idea perhaps inspired the golden bird perched on 


the cupola of the king's umbrella which Ibn Batuta men- 
tioned in describing the court ceremonies of the court 
of Melle in the fourteenth century. Marvels of every 
kind are catalogued among the creations of the wisest of 
Egyptian sovereigns. Nor need we confine ourselves to 
the Soudan to find in later times the prototypes of statues 
which healed, relics which could detect injustice, dirty 
water which, being washed over sacred stones, had power 
to impart saving grace. The ideas which underlay the 
magic of Egypt have been common to all time. They 
took sometimes, in Egypt as elsewhere, very charming 
shape. We hear of one benevolent king who constructed 
a temple in which he placed statues to heal every human 
infirmity. On the head of each statue was written the 
name of the evil which it could cure. When he had 
cured all recognised evils, he made last of all the statue 
of a smiling woman, "and whoever looked on her, lost 
his secret sorrow." 

In the construction of these talismans the "magicians 
of the south " played their part. We have seen in the 
Tarikh-es-Soudan that Gao was celebrated in ancient 
times as a town of magicians, whence the Pharaohs on 
occasion summoned help. Borgu and its neighbourhood 
to the south of Gao is to this day celebrated for the 
pursuit of magic, and the whole coast of West Africa 
is permeated with a belief in witchcraft and charms. 
Doubtless when Egyptian records speak of the south, 
they frequently mean Ethiopia and Meroe. But that the 
name of Ethiopia was extended in some instances to 
cover the country as far west as the Atlantic is made 
quite clear by ancient writers. Strabo expressly says so. 

If, in the magic practised by the inhabitants of the 
territories lying between the Niger and Lake Chad, we 
find one indication of the very early connection of these 
countries with Egypt, other indications present them- 
selves, as we approach the period of the Pharaohs of 
the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, which appear 
by comparison to stand on historic ground. I abridge 


from Macrizi an account of an eleven years' expedition 
of one of the Pharaohs into the west and south, which 
seems definitely to confer upon Borgu the honour of 
connecting the existing territory of British Northern 
Nigeria with the Egypt known to us in the Old Testa- 
ment. The expedition took place some 1 700 years before 
Christ. The Pharaoh was king of Egypt when "a 
young Syrian, of the name of ' Joseph the Truthful,' was 
sold by his brothers into Egypt." The Pharaoh of 
Joseph was known by many names. Amongst them 
the Copts gave him the name of " Barkhou." 

After a long struggle with Phoenician forces in the 
north, this Pharaoh subdued Syria, and then resolved to 
conquer the world to the south and west. He set out 
with an army of 700,000 men, marched westward to that 
point of Africa where the Atlantic meets the Mediter- 
ranean, crossed over to Spain, and, having conquered 
and imposed tribute as he went, he returned and marched 
eastward through the country of the Berbers. Thence 
he turned south, fought with various peoples, and sent 
a general before him to a town situated upon the "black 
water." The king of this town had never heard of 
Pharaoh, and being questioned about the water to the 
south, said that no one had ever navigated it, because 
of the mists which made it dangerous. When Pharaoh 
arrived, the native king offered presents, amongst them 
a mystic black stone, and fruits, chiefly bananas. Pharaoh 
then " marched into the countries of the Soudan, and 
came to the country of the Dem-Dem cannibals, who 
marched against him entirely naked." He conquered 
them, and took the road to the "dark sea," but as mists 
arose, he returned northwards as far as a colossal statue 
of red stone, which bore the inscription, " Beyond me 
there is nothing." He appears then to have turned 
eastward. In his march he encountered various marvels 
which I will not relate, amongst other things a town of 
hermits or magicians living in the mountains, from whom 
he received good advice, and by whom he was shown 


immense stores, worthless to them, of gold and emeralds 
and sapphires. Finally, after an absence of eleven years, 
he reached Nubia — showing that, in his day at least, 
communication was supposed to be possible between the 
Niger and the Nile along the parallels of the fertile 
belt — and he re-entered Egypt, having built monuments 
or otherwise "left traces of himself" in every country 
through which he passed. 

The account, of which I have given the essential 

geographical points, seems clearly to indicate that this 

Pharaoh on his return from the west followed the Tripoli- 

Fezzan route into the desert. The town upon which he 

marched may have been the town of Kaougha or Kau- 

Kau, which appears to have existed in ancient times 

somewhere near to the site of the present town of Kuka 

on Lake Chad ; but remembering that the Arab name of 

the Niger is the " Huad el Nichar," or Black Water, and 

that the account of the expedition has been taken by Arab 

writers from the Coptic, it is equally probable that the 

town where he got the black stone and the bananas 

may have been that very town of Gao on the Niger, also 

called Kaougha, the antiquity of which has been so often 

alluded to. He marched "thence" into the Soudan and 

the country of the cannibal Dem-Dems. This at least 

identifies the locality of a portion of this expedition, for 

every early Arab writer has located the Dem-Dems in the 

country to the south and south-east of Gao, spreading down 

the western side of the river and across the river into the 

hills to the south of the Haussa States, known later as 

Bowshy, Bowsher, or Jacoba, and now included in British 

Northern Nigeria under the name of Bautchi. In these 

hills the cannibals have survived even to our own day, but 

on the western side of the river they have long since been 

driven out, and their place has been taken by the peoples 

of Gurma and Borgu, or, as this latter province was often 

called by early Arab writers, Barkou. Here again the 

coincidence of name is at least striking. A Pharaoh of the 

name of Barkhou, of whom it is said that he left a trace of 


himself in every country through which he passed, is stated 
to have marched victoriously with a large army over a 
country to the south of the Black Water, which is de- 
scribed as the country of the Dem-Dems. At a very 
much later period a country bearing his Coptic name, and 
claiming for its people Coptic descent, is found to be 
situated between the Black Water and the country of the 
Dem-Dems. I do not wish to push the argument of 
names too far, especially when the uncertain nature of the 
records of those "Traditionists" from whom Macrizi 
quotes is taken into consideration. Yet in conjunction 
with the popular belief in Egyptian extraction, this story 
which I find in the annals of Egypt, where there was 
no thought of shedding light on questions of the Soudan, 
seems to me interesting enough to plead its own excuse 
for insertion. 

Whether the "Dark Sea" — rendered in the French 
translation which I am following by the words " Mer 
obscure'' — really meant the sea on the south coast, or 
whether it was, as I think more probable, some other body 
of water such as Lake Chad, which must have been passed 
if the expedition re-entered Egypt by way of Nubia, I 
leave to the more learned to decide. The direction of his 
march after achieving the conquest of the Dem-Dems 
appears to me to have been round the north shores of 
Lake Chad, and so across the desert into Nubia. If it be 
true that he built monuments or left traces of himself in 
every country through which he passed, there is hope that 
his cartouche may yet be discovered upon some hitherto 
unexplored rock of Northern Nigeria. The persistent 
reference in early descriptions to a colossal statue in the 
neighbourhood of the Almena rocks may have a foundation 
in interesting fact. 

Before and after this Pharaoh, other Pharaohs — includ- 
ing the intrepid Phoenician usurper who, according to 
Macrizi, was the Pharaoh of Moses — marched at the head 
of armies into the Soudan and fought and conquered 
among the blacks and Berbers, forcing the people of the 


Soudan to pay tribute. The black nations of Ethiopia 
were sufficiently vigorous to have at times invaded the 
southern and western frontiers of Egypt, and to have 
necessitated the building of a great wall of defence against 
them. This wall, which extended from the frontiers of 
Abyssinia to Nubia, and through Nubia to the oases, 
was built by a queen called Dalouka. It was fortified 
at intervals throughout its length. 

We know from other sources that, about the year 1400 
B.C., Rameses the Great, who is usually assumed to have 
been the Pharaoh of Moses, made extensive conquests to 
the south. This was the Pharaoh whose conquest of 
Ethiopia is shown upon the monuments, and on those 
monuments is also indicated the conquest of tributary 
nations to the West. In connection with these conquests 
we must not forget the statement of the Tarikh-es-Soudan 
that it was the Pharaoh of Moses who drew his magicians 
from Gao. That the nations of the Niger and Lake Chad 
should have been tributary to Eastern Ethiopia is not 
surprising, and the inference to be drawn from the monu- 
ments and the statements of ancient writers is confirmed 
by the mere fact that the name of Ethiopia was extended 
to them. Libyan as well as Ethiopian dynasties are 
known to have reigned in Egypt after the Pharaohs of the 
nineetenth dynasty. When, therefore, we read of the re- 
conquest of Egypt, and a march of Ethiopian armies against 
the Kings of Israel about 1000 b.c, and of an Ethiopian 
dynasty established at Memphis under Sabako at a period 
contemporary with the prophet Isaiah, about 750 B.C., we 
may assume it to be probable that the peoples in the 
neighbourhood of Lake Chad contributed their share, if not 
actually to the armies, at least to the strength of the then 
conquering empire. 

After the Ethiopian dynasty came the Persian con- 
quests, during which, as we have seen, expeditions appar- 
ently took place which have left a tradition of ancestry 
among the black nations of the extreme west of the 
Soudan. After the Persians came Alexander and the 


Ptolemies. The picture given by Egyptian historians of 
the last of the Ptolemies is very different from that usually 
received in the West. Cleopatra's vigilance, they tell us, 
watched over the extreme limits of the kingdom of Egypt, 
and some historians have attributed to Cleopatra the wall 
of Dalouka. There was, therefore, we may infer, the same 
need under the Ptolemies that there had been under 
earlier dynasties for defence against the peoples of the 

It is not surprising that Haussaland and Bornu, which 
lie between the Bend of the Niger and Lake Chad, and of 
which the territory occupied at the south-westerly end 
of the great trade routes of the ancient world a position 
corresponding to that occupied by Ethiopia proper at the 
south-eastern end, should have received the inspiration of 
their civilised development rather from Egypt, and at a 
later period from the Arabs of the Barbary coasts, than 
from those Arabs who established the civilisation of the 
Ommeyade dynasty in Spain. As, however, there is no 
clear distinction to be made between the Arabs of the 
west and east, so there will be found comparatively little 
difference between the medieval civilisation of the western 
and the eastern portions of the West African Soudan. 
The more remarkable differences were of earlier date, 
when the influence of ancient Egypt was stronger, and 
when the schismatic Christians of the Roman Empire 
found their way, under the pressure of persecution, along 
the same eastern desert road, to the oblivion and the 
freedom of the south. 

During the second and third centuries of our era, when 
Christians were liable to spasmodic persecution under the 
pagan emperors of Rome, the African desert was a favourite 
refuge of the enthusiast, and the conception of winning 
heaven by preaching the gospel to the most remote nations 
of the earth was not daunted by the unknown dangers of 
the Soudan. In the sixth century, when the Emperor 
Justinian and the Empress Theodora took opposite sides 
in the great schism of the Incarnation, the Coptic Church, 


persecuted in Syria and Egypt, spread its monophysite 
emissaries far into the heart of Africa, leaving to its 
Nestorian rivals the open road of Persia, China, and the 
East. Distinct traces are to be found in the eastern part 
of the West African Soudan of this Coptic movement. 
Borgu, already famous for its connection with the 
Pharaohs, claims to have received in more modern times 
a form of Christianity from the East, and though the 
tradition is not general in the country, Borgu natives 
have recently asserted that their prophet is not Moham- 
med but Kisra, a Jew who died for the sins of men. In 
the second half of the fifteenth century the Portuguese 
had knowledge of a native state in the interior which 
professed Christianity "after the manner of Egypt." They 
took that state to be Mossi, but if reliance is to be placed 
on the very circumstantial account of the Tarikh-es- 
Soudan, they were mistaken in their assumption, and 
the honour must be attributed to some other people. 
It may have been Borgu, but it must be admitted that 
the Christianity of this province, if schismatic to begin 
.with, has wandered now so far from the established path 
as to be scarcely recognisable. 



With this slight indication that the native traditions of the 
Soudan are not without some foundation in recorded 
history, we may return to what should be the surer if 
narrower ground of local chronicles. Unfortunately, in 
approaching the history of Haussaland and Bornu, we are 
met in both cases by the fact that their records were pur- 
posely destroyed at the beginning of the nineteenth century 
by Fulani conquerors in Haussaland, and by the new 
dynasty of the Kanemyin in Bornu. The new rulers had 
in both instances the same object, to obliterate as far 
as possible the trace of their predecessors, and they have 
been so far successful that the materials of local history 
which have survived are extremely scanty. A few manu- 
scripts have, however, escaped the general destruction- 
Dr. Earth found one in Bornu which gives a brief and 
dry chronicle of the kings of Bornu from a very early, 
though undated period. There is one containing a chro- 
nicle of the history of Katsena. The Niger Company 
obtained in Kano a manuscript as yet only imperfectly 
translated, which gives in similar brief fashion a chronicle 
of the reigns of forty-two kings of Kano. Dr. Robinson 
found in Zaria another, though more modern manuscript, 
giving some account of a period of the history of Zaria, 
We have also, though from a tainted source, native notes 
on the history of the Haussa States. Sultan Bello, the 
commander of the victorious Fulani, while he permitted 
and presumably encouraged the destruction of the Haussa 
records, so far showed his appreciation of the importance 

of history as to compile from his own study of documents 



lost to us, an account of the Haussa States, in which some 
truth may be assumed to mingle with the presentment of 
facts coloured to suit the Fulani point of view. From 
these and a few other records, combined with oral tradition 
and the slight notices of contemporary Arabs at different 
periods of the history of Haussa and Bornu, it is possible to 
frame a general outline of the history of the two countries. 
Little trustworthy detail as to the customs, laws, industry, 
literature, administration, or religion, which would have 
enabled us to construct a complete picture for ourselves 
of these long-existing civilisations, has been preserved. 
More material will, however, doubtless come to light from 
year to year as the country is opened up, and, in fact, from 
each province contributions to history are already begin- 
ning to be made. This is especially the case in regard 
to pagan history, which may prove to be scarcely less in- 
teresting, in some districts, than Mohammedan history. 
Although lying in geographical juxtaposition between 
the parallels of 9° and 14° N. latitude, and now united 
within the limits of the British Protectorate, Bornu and 
Haussaland are two very distinct countries inhabited by 
people of wholly different race, having their own traditions 
and their distinct history. Except when, as a consequence 
of border wars, there has been a temporary overlapping of 
the frontier, they have always possessed their distinct 
territories. The Bornuese people are of Berber extraction, 
and though to European eyes actually black, count them- 
selves among the white or red races of the Soudan. Com- 
pared with the history of Haussaland their history is 
modern. The Haussa is wholly black, but not negroid in 
type. He has not the smooth hair of the Songhay, but 
in other respects he has frequently a cast of countenance 
scarcely less Aryan in type, and in his peculiar and 
strongly marked characteristics he is universally recog- 
nised as ranking among the most interesting of the 
peoples of the Soudan. His known history, though never 
brilliant, has been persistent. Many times conquered, he 
has nevertheless continued to preserve a clearly defined 


political individuality. He has always been merchant, 
peasant, soldier, and artisan. Storms have swept over him, 
to which he has bowed a submissive head. According to 
circumstances his territory has contracted or expanded, but 
in the Haussa nation the life of the individual appears to 
have been so little dependent on the political development 
of the race, that it has lost no vigour in the incidents of 
history, and we find him to-day pursuing his avocations 
as his fathers before him pursued the same avocations 
when they first emerge to our sight from the dimness of 

The territory covered by Haussaland to-day stretches 
roughly from about 9° to 14° N. lat., and from 4° to 
11° E. long., and it contains a population estimated at 
perhaps ten millions of people. No accurate census 
has as yet been made, and this estimate, lower than 
that usually given, is only approximate. The Haussa 
language, which is classed with Coptic amongst the 
Hamitic languages, is said to be more widely spoken 
than any other single native language in West Africa. 
The Haussas have themselves, like most other West 
African races, a tradition of having come once from 
the east beyond Mecca, but their presence in the Soudan, 
somewhat to the north of the territory which they now 
occupy, is, like that of the Berbers in the Western African 
desert, of immemorial antiquity. Dr. Barth connects 
them with the Aterantes of Herodotus. They have 
also been connected with the Habeches, Habais, or 
Habes, of Strabo. Within historic times they have 
been known as divided into seven independent Haussa 
States, upon which certain other states, also largely peopled 
by Haussas, have been dependent. The seven original 
states were Biram, Gober, Kano, Rano, Zaria, Katsena, 
and Daura. Some of these have now sunk into insig- 
nificance. Some form still the most important provinces 
of Northern Nigeria. Though within any period of 
which we have record — dating for about a thousand 
years — these states have been independent of and 


generally hostile to each other, their own traditions 
point to a more ancient period when they were united 
in some form of federal bond. 

Their mythical history, which presumably reflects 
some political reality, is that Biram, the father of the 
states, wedding Diggera — which is the name of a Berber 
settlement in the desert to the north of Haussaland — had 
six children, of whom Zaria and Katsena were first born 
as twins, then Kano and Rano, another pair of twins, 
and after them Gober and Daura. To each of his 
children the progenitor of the Haussa States is said to 
have assigned certain duties, Gober, the most northerly 
of the states, which in historic times has served as a 
military rampart between peaceful Haussaland and the 
warlike tribes of the desert, was appointed war chief, with 
the special duty of defending his brethren. Kano and 
Rano, safe behind this rampart, were appointed ministers 
of industry — dyeing, weaving, &c. Katsena and Daura 
were ministers of intercourse and trade, and Zaria, which 
is a province of great extent lying south of the others, 
and dividing their fruitful plains from the hilly country 
of Bautchi, was appointed chief of the slaves, with the 
special duty of providing a supply of labour for the 
industry of his brothers. Bautchi, the hilly country in 
question, was for many centuries the home of the cannibal 
and the hunting-ground for slaves, its name, which is 
a corruption of Boushy, meaning the country of the 
Bauwa, or the slaves. 

In this myth we get a fairly clear picture of a union 
of states, of which the northern and southern frontiers 
were actively defended, and where the Soudanese practice 
of raiding to the south for a labour supply, by means of 
which the industry of the Central States was maintained, 
was in full force. But this condition of things received 
a still further development before any period of which we 
have contemporary historic observation, for according to 
the myth the legitimate children of Biram were presently 
increased by seven illegitimate children. These are the 


States of Zanfara, Kebbi, Nupe, Gwari, Yauri, Yoruba, 
and Kororofa. In these states the Haussa language, 
though spoken, is not original, and we have already 
seen that Yoruba claims for itself a separate descent 
of more than respectable antiquity. Yoruba, if included, 
would carry Haussaland practically to the sea at Lagos. 
Nupe, as we have seen, was considered in the fourteenth 
century to be one of the most important of the purely 
native states of the Soudan. In Ibn Batuta's day it 
still maintained its reputation of being wholly impene- 
trable to the white man. The period at which these 
" illegitimate " states became infused with Haussa blood, 
or were made dependent upon Haussaland, is left, so 
far as the myth is concerned, indefinite. No part of the 
account deserves more than such credit as a myth may 

When we come to examine the few historical docu- 
ments which are available, we find no trace of political 
union between the Haussa States, except when, for 
certain periods in their history, one among them assumed 
or acquired a temporary dominance over the others. On 
the contrary, their history, as embodied in the chronicles 
to which allusion has been made, and which date back 
to the eighth or ninth centuries of our era, show them 
as independent kingdoms in a state of more or less 
chronic internecine war. Any union which may have 
given rise to the myth must therefore have existed 
before the year 800 of our era. 

In considering the civil and political conditions of 
the Haussa States we are necessarily reminded of the 
organisation of the early states of antiquity. The 
peoples of Asia Minor, of Arabia, and of Egypt itself, 
in days before the rise of the Persian, Macedonian, and 
Roman Empires, were commonly organised in a number 
of allied but separate cities. Heeren tells us that, 
amongst the Syrian populations, as far as the light of 
history carries us back, we find everywhere a number 
of single cities, with the territory around them, under 


a monarchical form of government, the sovereign power 
being placed in the hands of kings or princes. " Examples 
certainly are," he says, "to be met with where some of 
these cities and their monarchs obtained a decided pre- 
ponderance, and assumed to themselves a degree of 
authority. This, however, was a kind of forced alliance 
which extended no further than the exaction of tribute 
and subsidies in times of war, without depriving the sub- 
jected cities of their government and rulers." Phoenicia, 
like Syria, was never one state, but from the earliest 
period down to the Persian monarchy, was always 
divided into a number of separate cities, each with its 
little territory around it. Allied cities in Phoenicia were 
very numerous, and it is thought probable that there 
may have been periods when all the cities of Phoenicia 
formed one confederation, at the head of which at one 
time stood Sidon, and at a later period Tyre. Neces- 
sities of defence led more or less naturally to this 
system. These confederations, we are told, prevailed in 
all countries colonised by Phoenicians. Throughout the 
colonies of Phoenicia, as well as in the mother-country, 
a common religion formed likewise a bond of union 
for the cities, and strengthened and preserved the 
connection between them. 

Each city had its own proper government, and in this 
respect they were perfectly independent of each other. 
The chief authority was placed in the hands of kings, who 
in turn were to some extent controlled by high priests. 
The revenues of the cities depended in large measure on 
their trade, and the Phoenicians have lived in history as a 
commercial people. 

The parallel between the political organisation of the 
Phoenician and the Haussa States seems to me to be worth 
indicating, if only as another trace of the inspiration which 
Haussaland has unquestionably drawn from the East. 
There is hardly anything which has been said of Phoenicia 
which would not be applicable in the present day to the 
cities of Haussaland. Their independence, their cohesion, 



their mutual jealousies, their occasional acceptance of a 
dominant leader, their commercial activity, their common 
religion, are features of a quite remarkable similarity. 

There are, I think, especially interesting conclusions 
to be drawn from a consideration of the early religion of 
the Haussa States. 

As regards the genealogy of the Haussa people, their 
Fulani historian, Sultan Bello, not anxious to glorify the 
race whom he desired his own people to supplant, ascribes 
their origin to a slave, excepting, however, the people of 
Gober, whom he admits to have been free-born, and to 
have descended from the Copts of Egypt. Curiously, the 
manuscript obtained by the Niger Company in Kano, which 
professes to carry the history of that town from mythical 
times to the period of the Fulani conquest in the beginning 
of the nineteenth century, gives a certain corroboration to 
this view. "The chief of the people of Kano," it says, 
"was named Berbushay. He was a black, strong man, 
and a lover of hunting." Bushay, as has been already 
said, means the land of slaves. " Ber" is frequently used 
to signify man. Therefore the name of this first chief of 
Kano may well be taken to signify " a man from the land 
of slaves." A man from the land of slaves is far from 
being necessarily a slave, but the coincidence may be 
taken to justify, in part at least, the statement of Bello. 
The story of the founding of Kano town by this hero has 
a Herculean flavour. He achieved, it is said, many 
labours, and, having one day killed an elephant with his 
spear, he carried the animal for a long distance on his head. 
Where he put it down was the site of Kano town. He 
himself lived on the Hill Dalla, which is now within the 
walls of Kano, and he had a family of seven children. He 
was of course a pagan. It is said of him that "he in- 
herited the customs of Dalla, which were handed down 
through the pagan families," and this mystic inheritance 
of Dalla appears to have made of him the high priest, as 
well as chief, of the pagan tribes who owned his sway. 
These spread far on all sides of Kano, and they gathered 


to him for religious festivals. There was a pagan goddess 
who had many names, amongst them Gonkie and Shem- 
susu. This goddess lived upon a walled hill which was 
guarded day and night, and none were allowed to approach 
her except Berbushay himself. Her religious festivals 
took place twice a year, and on these occasions the people 
from north and south and east and west brought black 
animals for sacrifice. It may be mentioned in connection 
with this custom that, according to the account given by 
Captain Clapperton, the pagan natives of Yoruba and 
Nupe still assemble once a year round a high hill, and 
sacrifice a black bull and a black sheep and a black dog. 
The custom was that, when the sacrifices were made, Ber- 
bushay went in alone to the enclosure of the goddess, and 
apparently his intercourse with her conferred some special 
sanctity upon him, for when he came out, he cried to the 
people : " I am the heir of Dalla, and whether you will or 
not you must serve me." And the people replied: "We 
serve you without fear." There were also in connection 
with this ceremony mystic rites, during which the people 
divested themselves of their clothing, but the description 
given in this very imperfect translation is too vague to be 
comprehensible. A learned investigator will perhaps some 
day ascertain whether these primitive customs, dedicated 
to the worship of a female deity in the Soudan, have any 
connection with the sanctity of the black stone of the 
Caaba, and the pagan rites of naked worship with which 
Astarte, or the Venus Erycina of the Phoenicians, was once 
honoured within the walls of Mecca. If the paganism of 
the Soudan were shown to be identical with that super- 
seded by Islam on the shores of the Red Sea during the 
lifetime of the prophet, it would be a curious and in- 
structive example of the continuity of history that it 
should be tracked to its last stronghold in equatorial 
Africa, and abolished to-day, after an interval of more 
than a thousand years, by a far-off pulsation of the same 
moral and intellectual forces. 

This Berbushay was also a prophet. He foretold the 


coming of kings and the building of mosques. " There is 
one," he said, " coming to this town with his people. He 
will be our head, and we shall be his servants." And the 
people cried: "This is a bad saying. Why do you 
prophesy evil things ? " And they wished him to be 
silent. But he said : " You shall see it by the power of the 
goddess. If it do not come in your time it will come in 
the time of your children. He will be lord over all that 
you possess, and he will forget you, and dwell long with 
his own people." The people were grieved in their hearts 
at his saying. But they knew him for a true prophet, 
and they believed his word. They asked him: "What 
shall we do to hinder this mighty thing } " And he 
said, " There is no help but in patience." Therefore 
they waited in patience till afterwards, in the time of their 
children, there came Bagoda, also called Daud (or David), 
who with all his people marched upon the place. Then 
it was said: "This is the man whose coming Berbushay 
foretold." And he was the first of the kings of Kano, 

I have quoted this narrative at length, partly for the 
picture that it gives of pagan customs, which vaguely recall 
those noted by El Bekri as existing in Ghana at the end 
of the eleventh century, and partly for the sake of the 
prophecy, so typical of the fate of Haussaland that it can 
only have been produced by the national character which 
ensured its fulfilment. " You shall be conquered, and 
there will be no remedy but in patience." This prophecy 
alone, accomplished as it has been by history, would seem 
to confirm the authenticity of that descent from the ever- 
conquered peoples of Egypt which has been attributed to 
the Haussa race. 



I DO not propose, with the very hmited material which 
is available, to attempt to reconstruct any detailed his- 
tory of the fortunes of the Haussa States. Nor is it 
likely that such a narrative would be very interesting, 
even did the material exist for its relation. The daily 
life of primitive states, and the petty incidents of their 
public fortune, are no more interesting than the daily life 
of private individuals. It is with the general movement 
of civilisation, as it rises or falls in the flood and 
ebb of national life, that history is concerned ; and, in 
the records of relatively undeveloped peoples, it is only 
in that portion of their existence which contributes to, 
or is associated with, the general movement that we 
are interested. 

The scraps of history and legend which have been 
preserved, and of which some specimens have been 
offered to the reader, would seem to establish the 
broad fact that in some period of, to us, remote anti- 
quity, the Haussa people were brought into existence 
by a union between earlier races inhabiting the Valley 
of the Nile or the shores of the Red Sea, and the 
aboriginal pagans whose descendants are now to be 
found in the hills of Bautchi and Adamawa. At a 
very early period the simpler arts of domestic and civil 
life were developed among them, for in the legend of 
Kano it is related that even before the coming of the 
founder of that town there were eleven great pagans 
who were respectively the ancestors and patrons of 
Love, of War, of Water, of Strong Drink, of Hunting, 


of Medicine, of Iron-smelting, of Salt- working, and of 
Blacksmiths, &c. The generally accepted religion was 
a form of paganism in which a goddess was supreme, 
and in which the manner of worship would seem to 
have had something in common with the worship of 
Venus or Astarte, from which Housal, one of the 
earliest recorded kings of Egypt, took his name. It 
is on the authority of Macrizi that I give this mean- 
ing of the name of Housal, and I am not so rash as 
to assume from the mere similarity of sound that the 
same meaning attaches to the name of Haussa, or, as 
it is sometimes written, Houssaland. I only note the 
fact that the origin of the name of Haussa is unknown, 
and that the great common bond of the people who 
bear it would seem to have been their religion and 
their lanauao-e. If this name had its oriofin in their 
religion, it would have been the same name wher- 
ever their language was spoken. The form of their 
religion differed from that of the Ju-ju worship of 
the coasts, and at the present day the pagans of 
Yoruba express themselves in terms of horror when 
speaking of the fetish worship and human sacrifices of 

This universal worship of a supreme goddess ap- 
pears to have given rise to the tradition that the 
Haussa States were at one time under the domination 
of a woman, whose seat of government was said to 
have been at Zaria. Early tradition attributes to her 
the founding of the town, and associates a colossal 
statue of her with some remarkable rocks which bore 
the name of Almena, to the south-east of the present 
position of Zaria. But Sultan Bello, who repeats the 
tradition that the seven provinces of Haussa were at 
one time under the domination of one queen, says that 
the name of the queen was Amina, that she was a 
daughter of the Prince of Zaria, and that she sub- 
dued the seven provinces of Haussa by force of arms, 
making them all tributary to her, and conquering also 


other native states as far as the navigable reaches of 
the Lower Niger. 

Legend and history seem in this instance to have 
aUied themselves, for, while the worship of the goddess 
was long anterior to the existence of any lady bearing 
the suspiciously orthodox name of the Mother of the 
Prophet, and allusions to the statue are to be found 
in the very earliest writers, the Kano chronicle places 
an excellent queen, Amina of Zaria, who reigned for 
thirty-four years, in just the place in which we might 
expect to find her — that is, towards the end of the 
fourteenth century, about a hundred years after Mo- 
hammedanism was introduced into the Haussa States. 
The theory of the domination of Amina over the 
Haussa States is still further disposed of by the state- 
ment that in this reign the long struggle between 
Kano and Zaria was brought to an end by the final 
subjugation of Zaria. Queen Amina seems, however, 
to have been a person whose importance was fully re- 
cognised, and after the conquest the King of Kano 
assigned to her use the whole of the land tax from 


the southern provinces of Nupe to Kororofa — that is, 
the country lying on the right bank of the Benue — and 
also laid on Nupe a special tax of eunuchs and kola 
nuts to be paid to the queen. 

"The country of Haussa," says Sultan Bello, who 
wrote in the nineteenth century, "consists of seven 
provinces, to each of which a prince is appointed to 
superintend its affairs, and the inhabitants of the whole 
speak one language. The central province of this 
kingdom is Katsena, the most extensive is Zaria, the 
most warlike is Gober, and the most fertile is Kano." 
Sultan Bello thus places Katsena in the centre of the 
Haussa States, and references to Katsena in the writ- 
ings of the Arabs imply that it was a place of impor- 
tance in the later development of Haussaland, famous 
alike for the industry and the learning of its inhabi- 
tants. The myth, to which reference has been made in 


an earlier chapter, also speaks of it as being, with 
Zaria, the oldest of the states. But history places its 
development at a later date than that of Kano. As 
will be seen, it did not rise to its full power till after 
the Moorish conquest, when, by the destruction of the 
eastern capital of the Songhay Empire, a stream of 
commerce was directed to its oates. The most bril- 


liant period of the history of Kano was already closed 
before the end of the sixteenth century. 

Gober, by its geographical position on the edge of 
the northern desert, and the necessity which was entailed 
upon it of constant conflict with the desert tribes, early 
acquired a more warlike reputation than its sister states ; 
but, perhaps because of the peril to which it was per- 
petually exposed upon the north, it seems never to have 
attempted in its earlier period to achieve by force of 
arms any general conquest in the Haussa States, and 
its importance in Haussaland, like that of Katsena, is 
subsequent to the greatest epoch of Kano. At one time 
it stretched far northward into the desert, and its people 
inhabited the territories of Ahir or Asben upon the 
Tripoli-Fezzan route, but it was driven from this posi- 
tion towards the end of the eleventh century by Berber, 
perhaps Morabite, invaders. 

Daura would seem to have been one of the most 
ancient of the Haussa States, and references to it are fre- 
quent in the Kano chronicle ; but, like its sister Rano, it 
does not appear to have played a very important public 
part in the history that is known to us of Haussaland. 

Zaria, the most southerly of the original seven states, 
distinguished itself from a very early date by the conquest 
of the southern non-Haussa provinces. It extended its 
power over the whole of the hilly country to the conflu- 
ence of the Niger and the Benu^, and even beyond it 
towards the sea. 

It will be seen, on glancing at a map of West 
Africa, that the Niger and the Benue, flowing towards 
each other from north-west and north-east, and meeting 


at Lokoja, a little south of the eighth parallel of latitude 
— whence their combined flood flows under the one name 
of the Niger very nearly due south for upwards of 250 
miles to the Gulf of Guinea — form within the boundary 
of the British Protectorate of this part of Africa the 
figure of a large and loosely outlined Y. The connection 
of the Benue with Lake Chad is a matter of controversy ; 
but the southern portion of this great inland sea, lying 
north of the sources of the Benue, completes the easterly 
development of the Y-shaped water-system of the country. 
It is within the branches of this Y that Bornu and Haussa- 
land proper are contained. One state — Borgu — included 
now within the limits of Haussaland, though not a Haussa 
State, lies altogether outside this figure on the west bank 
of the Niger ; but the most southerly extension of Borgu 
carries it only to the ninth degree. We may say that 
all the countries with which we are now about to be 
concerned lie between 8° and 14° north latitude. And 
the original seven states of Haussa have an even more 
northerly extension, being all situated to the north of 
10°. The southward course of the united rivers runs 
through pagan countries to the sea. 

We are necessarily obliged, in making use of the 
Kano chronicle, to view the life of the Haussa States 
through Kano eyes ; but for that very reason it is perhaps 
the more to be trusted when it presents to us a picture 
of constant strife, with varying fortune, between itself 
and the other states, leaving us to learn from foreign 
sources that from time to time a submerging tide of 
external conquest swept over the country, and reduced 
all alike to the equality of submission. There can be 
no doubt that Kano occupied from early times a leading 
position in Haussaland, but so evenly do the strokes of 
fate appear to have been distributed, that, notwithstanding 
the predominant rank of Kano, it is probable that the 
history of that province offers a fair type of the history 
of any one of its legitimate or illegitimate sister states. 
We take it up at a point in the general history of Haussa- 


land, when Daura and Zaria were already fully developed, 
and the southern country to the confluence of the rivers 
acknowledged the greatness, if it did not absolutely accept 
the sway, of Zaria. The non-Haussa States of Borgu, 
Nupe, Bautchi, and Kororofa, stretched in a belt of for- 
midable pagan strength along the course of the two 
rivers, and we have already made ourselves acquainted 
with an outline of the contemporary history of the great 
non-Haussa nations lying to the west. The pagan belt, 
stretching from 8° north latitude to the coast, was prac- 
tically unknown to the early Haussa races. 

The first king of Kano, whose second name of Daud, 
or David, would appear to indicate an Eastern origin, 
reigned, so far as our uncertain dates may be trusted, 
towards the end of the tenth century, or about a hundred 
years before the Morabite invasion from the west, which 
carried Mohammedanism through the Western Soudan. 
Opinions differ as to whether the invasion reached as 
far as the countries lying to the south of the Tripoli- 
Fezzan route ; but if it did, the Mohammedanism of the 
five tribes was not carried so far south as to enter the 
Haussa States. The establishment of Islam in Ahir in 
the desert, is attributed to the eleventh century ; but the 
State of Gober offered an impassable barrier to any more 
southerly extension of the doctrine of Mohammed by the 
sword. The Haussa States remained pagan until the 
emigration of Wankore or Wangara Mohammedanism 
from Melle, in the rising epoch of that empire, about the 
middle of the thirteenth century, brought the new religion 
peacefully to Kano. It was accepted by a certain King 
Yahya, who was then reigning, and the story of his con- 
version is embellished by a graphic account of a miracle 
worked upon the pagan chief and people of Gazawa, who 
not only refused to be converted, but purposely defiled 
the mosque erected by King Yahya. The chief and his 
people were summoned on a given day, and when they 
were assembled, " the Mussulmans prayed against the 
pagans." God answered the Mussulman prayer, and 


the pagans were all stricken with blindness, "not only 
the chief and his people who were assembled, but the 
women in their homes." After this, the chronicle says 
that the religion of Mohammed was accepted, and that, 
by the force of the true God, King Yahya conquered his 
enemies as far as Kororofa and Atagher — that is, practi- 
cally as far as Lagos. He reigned for thirty-seven years, 
and was widely feared and respected. 

The next reign was a reign of peace, and when the 
king died he was buried by the imaum. It is recorded 
of him that he was the first who, when he died, was 
wrapped in a white cloth and had prayers read over 
him. But when, in the succeeding reign, the southern 
provinces refused to pay tribute, and the great war with 
Zaria began, the king consulted the old pagan priests, 
and they told him that if he wished to be victorious he 
must return to the religion of his ancestors. He attended 
the pagan ceremonies, where the priest "sang the song 
of Berbushay." After that, when he went against Zaria 
he was successful. The King of Zaria was killed, and 
the people were scattered abroad. This king is reported 
to have introduced the use of iron caps among his soldiers. 
The shirts of mail in which the warriors of the Haussa 
States still come out to battle are said to have come to 
them originally as spoils of the Crusaders, brought down 
by Arab merchants from Palestine. They may have 
been in use at an earlier period, but I find no note of 
any armour until this reign of the early part of the 
eleventh century. 

All the early reigns are filled with the struggle 
between paganism and Mohammedanism, with miracles 
duly recorded on either side, and lapses in times of 
crisis on the part of the kings. Gradually the pagan 
element drops out, and it becomes evident that all the 
intelligence and cultivation of the country has become 
Mohammedan. In the reign of the fifteenth king, another 
David, Kano enters into closer relations with Bornu, 
and a king of Bornu, attended by many Mohammedan 


priests and teachers, spent a period of several months 
in Kano. The Bornu chronicle quoted by Dr. Barth, 
says that Kalnama, King of Bornu, took refuge in Kano 
from his rebellious subjects about the year 1430. The 
Kano chronicle would seem to date the visit nearly a 
hundred years earlier, but the agreement between the 
two chronicles is sufficient to show that, at the end of 
the fourteenth century, Mohammedanism was generally 
accepted in the high places of Haussaland. It was in 
the reign of this David that the conquest of Zaria was 
completed under orthodox conditions, and Queen Amina 
ranked among the subject sovereigns of Kano. At 
this time, according to Kano authority, the whole of 
the south of what is now Northern Nigeria was sub- 
ject to Kano. A more malicious interpretation of the 
facts of the treaty with Zaria would suggest that the 
generosity of King David in allotting the land tax of 
the southern provinces, as well as the special taxes of 
Nupe, to the service of Queen Amina, was not wholly 

During the next reign a general of the Kano forces 
remained in the southern provinces for seven years, 
conquering the pagans, taking many prisoners, and send- 
ing every month a thousand slaves from the seat of war 
to Kano. The King kept the armies well supplied, and 
after this experience the affairs of the southern portion 
of Haussaland seem for a time to have given no more 
cause for preoccupation. Relations with Bornu in the east 
had in the meantime become pressing. Embassies and 
the opening of the roads led finally to war, of which 
the result, towards the beginning of the fifteenth century, 
is glosed in the single sentence that "many towns were 
given to Bornu." This, king was the first to have camels 
and to drink wine in Haussaland. 

In the reign of the following king, Yakoub, or Jacob 
— that is, about the year 1402 to 1422 — we first hear of 
the immigration of Fulani, who came from Melle and 
Masina, to Haussaland, and were given land in Kano, 


Zaria, and Gazawa. This was the declining period of 
the history of Melle, and the emigration seems to have 
been a movement of considerable magnitude. Some of the 
Fulani, we are told, passed on eastward to Bornu, some 
were left on the way with their slaves, and all who 
were too weak to proceed on their journey remained 
in Haussaland. At this period, trade seems to have 
received an active stimulus, and foreign caravans are 
noticed as coming from various places. Berbers and 
Arabs came into the country, some of whom settled 
in Kano and some in Katsena. There was also local 
trade between Kano and Nupe. 

This peaceful reign brings us, in the first half of the 
fifteenth century (probably 1422-1459), to the reign of 
a king of Kano, whose name of Mohammed Rimpa 
has survived in all the chronicles. Under him Moham- 
medan civilisation spread through the country. Sherifs 
came to Kano from the East, bringing with them books 
and learning. Mosques were built, and "religion became 
strong in Kano." Mohammed Rimpa was the first to 
observe the fast of Ramadan. He gave titles to his 
eunuchs, and shut his women up after the fashion of 
the East. Mohammed Rimpa built the walls of the 
town of Kano with seven gates. He also built a palace 
for himself, as did some of his principal officers. He 
divided the territory of Kano into nine provinces, and 
appointed to rule over them nine subject kings. " There 
was no king," says the chronicle, "so great as Rimpa." 
Of contemporary history during his reign, we are told 
only that for eleven years Katsena was at war with her 
neighbour Mastur. 

Mohammed Rimpa seems, indeed, to have possessed 
one of those commanding individualities which, when 
fortune places it upon a throne, marks an epoch in 
the country over which it rules. From the reign of 
Mohammed Rimpa, Kano may be reckoned with the 
civilised native powers of the Soudan. Yet, as so often 
happens when the influence of one man has achieved 


a strong forward movement, the brilliant period of the 
prosperity of Kano under Rimpa was destined to undergo 
a speedy reactionary eclipse under weaker successors. 

The ten years' reign of the next king was a long 
series of wars with Katsena in the north-west, with 
Zaria in the south, finally and disastrously with Bornu 
in the east. The result of the Bornu campaign is again 
tersely related in a sentence: "The King of Bornu 
dethroned the King of Kano, and put his own slave on 
the throne of Kano." 

History does not condescend to record the fate or 
the doings of the Bornu slave, but after the persistent 
fashion of Haussaland, we shortly find the son of the 
defeated king of Kano reigning in his father's stead. 
This king, Ahmadu Kesoke, had the strong blood of 
his grandfather Rimpa in his veins. He " conquered 
the four corners of Haussa, east and west and north 
and south." Bornu marched against him, but was de- 
feated and driven back with considerable loss. In this 
reign learning prospered, and various Sheiks and Mallams 
are mentioned as coming to Kano from other towns. 

The reign of Ahmadu Kesoke must have represented 
the summit of the greatness of Kano, for we know that, 
in the early years of the sixteenth century, Haussaland 
was overrun by the armies of Songhay. The dates and 
account of the campaign given in the TmHkh-es-Soudan 
are too circumstantial to admit of doubt, and Leo Africanus, 
writing in 1526, speaks of the greatness of Kano as being 
already in decline. After a description of the state and 
of its capital, he says : " The inhabitants are rich mer- 
chants and most civil people. Their king was in times 
past of great puissance, and had mighty troops of horse- 
men at his command, but he hath since been constrained 
to pay tribute to the Kings of Zaria and Katsena. 
Afterwards Askia, the King of Timbuctoo, feigning 
friendship unto the two foresaid kings, treacherously slew 
them both, and then he waged war against the King 
of Kano, whom after a long siege he took, and compelled 


him to marry one of his daughters, restoring him again 
to his kingdom, conditionally that he should pay to him 
the third part of all his tribute." 

In the storm thus curtly described we may discern 
the ever recurring conditions of Haussa convulsions. The 
king, though conquered, was " restored again." The 
detail of having to add a daughter of the Askia to his 
harem was not onerous. From the Haussa point of view 
it would, not unnaturally, be accounted among the 
customary compliments of an honourable peace. To 
surrender a third of his tribute was more serious, but 
to the philosophic Haussa this was but the fortune of 
war, and the resident officials whom Askia placed at the 
court of Kano would seem to have incommoded no 

It is characteristic of the life of Haussaland that the 
whole of this important and well-attested episode is 
ignored in a chronicle which professes to give a minute 
and continuous record of the reigns of the kings. The 
name of Songhay is never mentioned. Nor can this 
omission be attributed wholly, as might at first be 
imagined, to a patriotic desire to ignore an inglorious 
chapter of local history. In the accounts which are 
given of contemporary local wars we are told frankly 
enough when Kano is beaten, and we are allowed to 
see the disastrous results of the fighting with Zaria and 
Katsena. I incline to believe, and that is why it may, 
I think, be properly qualified as characteristic, that the 
omission of this chapter of foreign conquest from the 
local annals is based on a real indifference to the event. 
The net result of the operation was that the King of 
Kano was restored to his kingdom. The conditions 
which attached to his restoration were not important in 
the eyes of a historian who was acquainted with Zaria 
and Katsena, Gober and Bornu, but who knew practi- 
cally nothing of the foreign king who reigned at Tim- 
buctoo. Local affairs would seem to have been little 
affected by the inroad of the Songhay, whose adminis- 


tration of these distinct provinces was never much more 
than nominal. Therefore, though we know from outside 
information the epoch at which the Songhay conquest 
must have taken place, the chronicle pursues its narra- 
tive as though Songhay had not existed. 

In addition to the disputes with Katsena and Zaria, 
which, as we know, occasioned the intervention of Askia 
the Great, we hear from it of civil war in Kano itself. 
A King Jacob, who was taken off the throne by a local 
revolution, refused to be reinstated when his generals 
had subdued the opposing faction, because he preferred 
to devote his life to study. The fortunes of Kano are 
very evidently in eclipse. Yet, through several reigns, 
we are given no hint of what must have been the pre- 
dominating cause. The conquest by Songhay must appa- 
rently have taken place during the last years of the 
reign of Ahmadu Kesoke, then a very old man. After 
Kesoke came Jacob, and then others of no importance. 
Durino- the war with Katsena the condition of the pro- 
vince became so bad that people could no longer farm 
in the open country. They were obliged to take refuge 
in the walled towns. The villages were broken up, and 
the land was left untilled. The King Abu Bekr, who 
had succeeded to Jacob and another dethroned king, 
gave himself up to religion. "His throne was uncared 
for, and so were his people. But the town was crowded 
with priests and learned men, many of whom came, it is 
said, from Baghirmi." The next king was more active, 
but not more fortunate. In his war with Katsena there 
were two great battles, and being outnumbered, "Kano 
had to run away, willing or unwilling." The weakness 
of Kano provoked a revolution of the southern provinces, 
and in the succeeding reign Kororofa, one of the southern 
pagan provinces on the right bank of the Benue, invaded 
the province of Kano, ravaging all the lesser towns and 
getting actually within the walls of Kano. The Katsena 
war proceeded at the same time, and the chronicler 
sorrowfully narrates that the Katsena and Kororofa wars 


"broke the spirit of Kano." "The people had to sit still 
and be afraid, and for twenty years they were not able 
to go to war." 

After this, famine, the not unnatural result of a long 
period of war, during which the agricultural population 
had been driven from the land, added its desolation to 
the miseries of the country. It lasted for eleven years, 
and brought the fortunes of Kano to their lowest ebb, 
at a moment which must have coincided with the date 
of the Moorish conquest in the last decade of the sixteenth 




The Moorish conquest, for reasons which will presently 
be told, affected the Haussa States so much less than it 
affected the more westerly portions of the Soudan that 
it will, I think, be excusable to abandon the strictly 
chronological order of narration, and to say here what 
remains to be said of the history of Haussaland, even 
though it carries us somewhat beyond the era of the 
great convulsion which severed the connection of the 
Soudan with the civilised world. 

I wish that I had the material which will perhaps 
some day be discovered for a history of the interesting 
pagan states, especially Nupe and Kororofa, which lay 
on or to the south of the tenth parallel of latitude, 
peopling both banks of the Benue, and clustering about 
the confluence of the Niger with that river. We know 
of the inhabitants of Kororofa who occupied the eastern 
end of this belt, that they were long-haired, and apparently 
of the higher physical type which was brought to per- 
fection in the Songhays. At a very early period we hear 
of them and of the people of Nupe as practising the arts 
of smelting, of smith's work, of weaving, dyeing, &c., and 
as being well clothed in neat cotton robes. Their local 
civilisation would appear to have preceded the more 
northern civilisation of the Haussa States proper. Though 
they were pagan, their paganism was of the order of the 
goddess- worship of the Haussas, and as far removed from 
the fetish worship of the coast as their industrial and 
social habits were removed from those of the Dem-Dem 

cannibals, whom they partly drove southwards across the 



river and partly hunted into the mountains which on the 
north made a defensible barrier between their own and 
subsequent Haussa settlements. The river, no doubt, at 
first formed the southern boundary of their territory, and 
was afterwards peopled by them on both sides. 

The northern mountains, constantly visited by all 
the peoples of Haussaland for the sake of the gold, silver, 
tin, lead, iron, and antimony, which from the earliest 
times they were reported to contain, were rendered 
dangerous by the nature of the rude tribes who inhabited 
them, and they are to this day the home of lingering 
tribes of naked cannibals. They were from the earliest 
period a favourite hunting-ground for slaves, more valu- 
able because more easily obtained than the minerals with 
which the sometimes inaccessible rocks were reputed to 
be so richly stored. Landor observed, in travelling south 
from Zaria to the Benue through this country in 1827, 
that the people on his route were ready to sell their 
children for a chicken, and at the moment of the British 
occupation these districts still formed a slave reserve for 
the more northern states. Last year, 1904, when the 
High Commissioner made a tour through these provinces, 
he found that, notwithstanding the suppression of slave- 
raiding which has taken place under the British flag, 
parents were privately selling their children at a price 
varying from is. 6d. to 2s. apiece. 

Between these people and the higher-class pagans 
of Borgu, Nupe, and Kororofa, there has been, for all 
the time of which we have any record, a very wide gulf 
fixed. For the most part these lower-class pagans have 
been driven by the movements of local civilisation far 
southward towards the coast. 

Assuming, as I think we may assume, that the belt 
of native civilisation which stretched from Borgu on 
the west bank of the Niger through Nupe to Kororofa, 
not far from the sources of the Benue on the east, re- 
presented the earliest wave and farthest extension of 
the great movement which at some very distant period 


pressed upon the Soudan from the north and east, we 
may observe that the chronological order of civilisation 
in the Haussa States was almost coincident with the 
ascending degrees of latitude. 

Next after the civilisation of these southern states 
followed the rise and domination of Zaria, a province 
which, even in the nineteenth century, the Fulani his- 
torian describes as the most extensive of the Haussa States. 
It is probable that the early prosperity of Zaria may have 
been contemporary with that of Daura and Biram in the 
north, but I am obliged reluctantly to abandon the history 
of these Haussa States for lack of material. References 
to Daura as an old and still existing state are frequent 
in the Kano chronicle, and Dr. Barth specially commends 
Daura, of which the capital is at the present day a town 
of some importance, to the notice of the antiquarian for 
the interest of the legends which attach to it. The only 
legend with which I am acquainted is one resembling 
that already related in connection with the foundation 
of Kano, and attributes the foundation of the town to a 
strong man who killed there the " dodo " or fetish lion. 
" Dodo," I may say, is a native word signifying the 
King of Beasts, and may apply equally to rhinoceros, 
elephant, or any other great wild animal. The myth 
may, I think, be taken to indicate that, in the time of 
this hero, the worship of the goddess was substituted for 
the worship of the fetish, and it is interesting to observe 
that here, as in the early history of Songhay, the memory 
of the destruction of the fetish is preserved as an historic 
era in local tradition. The latitude of Daura is not far 
from the latitude of Gao, and such facts, collected from 
wholly different sources, tend to confirm the theory 
that there was a time when the fetish worship now 
confined to the belt of the southern coast extended far 
to the north. 

The sign-posts in the almost forgotten ways of ancient 
local history are few, but they point to the conclusion that 
at some very early period a general and widespread religious 


movement, having points of resemblance to the Phoenician 
worship of Astarte, and assimilated with a superior order 
of native civilisation, superseded the fetishism which is 
now to be found among the tribes of the coast, driving 
it gradually towards the south, and that the difference 
between the peoples professing this form of paganism 
and the cannibal fetish worshippers, was scarcely less 
than the difference which afterwards declared itself be- 
tween the peoples who accepted Mohammedanism and 
those who retained the local form of goddess-worship. 
Interest is added to the subject by the fact that the 
three types still exist, and can be studied in Nigeria, 
where it may be said that, at the present day, three 
distinct historic ages are persisting contemporaneously. 

After dominating the southern provinces, Zaria in 
its turn was dominated, as we have seen, by Kano. 
With the rise of Kano, and its conversion to Moham- 
medanism in the thirteenth century, we enter historic 
times, and the history of Kano involves to some extent 
the history of the principal provinces of Haussaland. 
After the period of the Moorish conquest, its arms, which 
had been directed to the south and east, were turned 
more continually to the north and west. In its later 
history Katsena, Zamfara, and Gober, take the place 
previously occupied by Zaria and the southern provinces, 
with the difference that, following the mysterious law 
by which conquest remained ever with the north, Katsena 
in the first instance established its superiority, and, after 
Katsena, Gober, a still more northern state, took the 
leading place, until the Fulani eruption of the nineteenth 
century, issuing from Gober, subjugated the whole of 

Katsena, whose literature, like that of Kano, was 
purposely destroyed by the Fulani at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, but of whose history a chronicle similar 
to the Kano chronicle has been preserved, would seem to 
have risen into importance somewhat later than Kano. 
The dates which have been examined and accepted by 


Dr. Barth attribute the foundation of the city to a hero of 
the name of Komayo as late as the middle of the four- 
teenth century, while King Ibrahim Maji, who lived about 
the middle of the sixteenth century, is counted as the first 
Mussulman king. This must, however, I think, be an 
error. It seems scarcely probable that Kano, which is at 
no great distance, should have had Mussulman kings from 
the end of the thirteenth century, while Katsena, nearer 
to northern civilisation, and in commercial and intellectual 
touch with Egypt and the Barbary States, should have 
waited till 1550 to seat a Mussulman on the throne. A 
little bit of direct evidence which supports the assump- 
tion of Katsena's earlier conversion is contained in the 
Tarikh-es-Soudan, where, in relating the life of one of 
the distinguished Mussulman scholars of Timbuctoo, 
Aicha Ahmed, who died in 1529, it is stated that, having 
spent many years in study in the East, "he returned to 
the Soudan and took up his residence at Katsena, where 
the Sultan treated him with much consideration, and 
conferred on him the function of Cadi." It may, I think, 
be taken for granted that the appointment of Cadi was 
not made by a pagan Sultan, nor would a pagan court 
have offered attractions as a residence to one of the 
most cultivated traditionists of Timbuctoo. The Kano 
chronicle mentions Katsena as a place to which many 
of the Fulani went to settle when they came from Melle 
in the end of the fourteenth century. It seems probable 
that Katsena, shortly to be distinguished under a Habe 
dynasty for superior learning, cultivation, and enlighten- 
ment, and gladly sought as a residence by men of 
letters from all parts of the Soudan, received Moham- 
medanism very shortly after the foundation of the town. 

It is not certain that the present town of Katsena 
was the first capital of the province, but if it is not 
certain neither is it material. By the middle of the 
sixteenth century, that is, after the conquest by Songhay, 
and the at least nominal incorporation of Katsena with 
that great empire, the present town had spread to a 


size of which the circuit was between thirteen and 
fourteen English miles, and was divided into quarters, 
of which the names give some indication of its activities. 
There was the "old quarter," which was believed to 
have been the site of the original town ; there was the 
Melle, or "strangers' quarters," which would seem by its 
double name to have been associated with the Fulani 
immigration from Melle ; there were also the quarters 
for people from Bornu and Gober, and there was an 
Arab quarter. There were quarters for the different 
trades and industries, saddlers, shoemakers, dyers, &c. 
There was, as in all great towns, a students' quarter ; 
there was — not far off — a dancing quarter. There was 
a government, or official quarter. There were quarters 
taking their names from the eight gates of the town, 
and besides these, innumerable others of which, after a 
list of native names approaching to a hundred, it is 
said : " These are the names of the larger quarters of 
the town, but there are still many smaller ones." 

The province of Katsena, extending — within prob- 
ably fluctuating limits — to a considerable distance beyond 
the town, contained places of importance of which the 
names compose a long list. The town has now fallen 
from its former greatness, and has shrunk to a fraction 
of its dimensions ; but the province, like the province of 
Kano, retains its natural advantages. It is thus de- 
scribed by Dr. Barth, writing about half a century ago ; 
"Altogether the province of Katsena is one of the finest 
parts of Negroland, and being situated just at the water 
parting of the Chad and the Niger, at a general eleva- 
tion of from 1200 to 1500 feet, it enjoys the advantage 
of being at once well watered and well drained, the 
chain of hills which diversify its surface sending down 
numerous rapid streams, so that it is less insalubrious 
than other regions of this continent. Its productions 
are varied and rich." In the country lying between 
Katsena and Kano, though devastated at the time of 
his passage by civil war. Dr. Barth proceeds to enumerate 


cotton, corn, yams, sweet potatoes, beans, ground nuts, 
bananas, papaws, wheat, onions, tobacco, indigo, as 
forming the ordinary crops. Katsena had also, he tells 
us, figs, melons, pomegranates, and limes, and, until 
the destruction of the vines at the period of the Fulani 
conquest, grapes were plentiful. In addition to these 
evidences of agriculture, the rich pasturage was dotted 
with vast herds of cattle and goats, while the park-like 
scenery, diversified by native woods, formed, he says, 
one of the finest landscapes he had ever seen in his 
life. Amongst the woods the shea butter tree of com- 
merce and the tamarind tree were remarkable. 

The effect of the Moorish conquest on Katsena was 
rather to increase than to diminish its importance, for 
the downfall of Kagho, the Songhay capital, and the 
disasters which followed under its Moorish conquerors, 
diverted a stream of commercial activity to Katsena ; 
and the Habe dynasty, whose system of law and ad- 
ministration was so admirable as to command the respect 
and the still more emphatic tribute of adoption by the 
Fulani conquerors of the nineteenth century, was founded 
in Katsena in the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
shortly after the coming of the Moors. " Habe," which 
is the name given to this dynasty by the Fulani, would 
seem to be only a native name for Haussa, but it 
applies to a special dynasty which at about this period 
possessed itself of power. 

Katsena, like Kano, came early into conflict with 
Bornu, and would seem to have acknowledged its suzer- 
ainty by the payment of a tribute in slaves. No other 
inconvenience arose from the conquest, and for all prac- 
tical purposes Katsena not only remained independent, 
but having come successfully out of the long wars with 
Kano, filled, during the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries of our era, the position of the leading city of 
this part of Negroland. In the latter half of the 
eighteenth century it was said to be at the height of its 
prosperity. It was important not only in commerce and 


politics, but also in learning and in literature. It seems to 
have been regarded as a sort of university town. The 
Haussa language attained here, it is said, to its greatest 
richness of form and refinement of pronunciation, while 
at the same time the manners of Katsena were dis- 
tinguished by superior politeness over those of the other 
towns of Haussaland. 

During the rise of Katsena in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, Kano recovered in part from its 
prostration. But it was subjected to many indignities, 
and the end of the seventeenth century was marked by 
a war with the then rising power of Zamfara on the 
north-west, in which the troops of Kano were beaten 
with great slaughter at Argaye, and so utterly dispersed 
that few were able to find their way home. 

The eighteenth century in Haussaland was dis- 
tinguished especially by the intrusion and rise to power 
among the more southerly states of Gober — a state 
which, it will be remembered, occupied a position on 
the extreme north of Haussaland, and at an earlier 
period of its history had extended into the desert as 
far north as Ahir or Asben. At a comparatively early 
period the more northerly portions of the territory 
of Gober had been conquered by a Berber combination 
known as the "five tribes." Whether these were 
the five tribes of the Morabite invasion led eastward 
by Abou Bekr at the end of the eleventh century, or 
five other Berber tribes from the north, is a matter 
of dispute. The fact alone is undisputed that they 
established the Mohammedan religion in Asben, and 
drove the people of Gober, who maintained the higher 
type of paganism, farther south. Gober was made tri- 
butary to them, and the feuds arising between the two 
races kept the people of Gober constantly occupied upon 
their northern frontier. In the first half of the eighteenth 
century the hereditary antagonists of Gober were them- 
selves conquered by the Kellowi, a fine race of North 
African Berbers. The ultimate consequence was to 


liberate the attention of Gober, and to change the direc- 
tion of its miUtary activity. The march of its armies 
from this date onward was directed to the south Instead 
of the north. 

Katsena alone of the Haussa States was able to resist 
successfully the practised strength of this warlike state. 
Zamfara was subdued by it about the year 1750, and in 
Kano the century was chiefly occupied by a long conflict 
with varying results. Reign after reign has the same 
record of fighting with Gober, and sometimes success is 
recorded, sometimes defeat, till at last, about the middle 
of the century, Gober, under the leadership of the king 
Babari, who had established himself on the throne of 
Zamfara, triumphed over Kano. Yet the subjection was 
not complete. Through this ceaseless wrangle the life of 
Kano may be seen to be holding on a more or less un- 
interrupted way. The wealth of the province seems to 
have helped the town to weather its many storms. A 
king at the beginning of the seventeenth century is 
recorded as being the first to take tax in cows from the 
Fulani who were settled in the province. In the intervals 
of war we are told that learning prospered and that trade 
was developed. After the war with Gober had reached 
its climax, Kano, though conquered, appeared no whit the 
worse. The king under whom the defeat took place is 
described as "bad," but of the next we are told that he 
reigned for fifteen years, and " he was great, kind, and 
peaceful. The country was prosperous under him, and he 
was much loved." Three more reigns bring us to the end 
of the eighteenth century, and under them we hear only of 
prosperity. One king who reigned for eight years, per- 
haps about 1770 to 1778, was the first to bring guns into 
Kano, and is described as being almost like an Arab in 
everything. The last king mentioned by the Kano 
chronicler is Al Wali, of whom we are told nothing but 
that his mother's name was Bawuya, and that he was a 
very powerful king. Earth mentions that, on the conquest 
of Kano by the Fulani in the early years of the nineteenth 


century, Al Wali the king fled to Zaria, and the Zaria 
chronicle mentions the fact that a king of Kano called Al 
Wali rebuilt the walls of Kano about the year 1787. We 
are therefore, I think, justified in supposing that this 
prince was the last of the line of Haussa kings in Kano. 
The conquest of Haussaland by the Fulani, which took 
place in the beginning of the nineteenth century, repre- 
sented to all the towns alike a catastrophe of the first 
magnitude, only to be paralleled in the country lying to 
the east of the Niger by the earlier catastrophe of the 
Moorish conquest in the countries lying to the west. 


To the east of the Haussa States, but lying within the 
same degrees of latitude — that is, north of io° and at 
present south of 14° — though once perhaps extending to 
the limit of the summer rains, lies the kingdom of Bornu. 
The history of this country, often closely associated with 
that of the Haussa States, is, as has been already said, in 
truth wholly distinct, the people being of Berber descent, 
and the language quite distinct from that of Haussaland. 
The difference observable in the national characteristics 
of the Bornuese and the Haussas is said by travellers 
amongst them to be marked. The Haussa is by nature 
lively-spirited and cheerful, the Bornuese melancholic, 
dejected, and brutal. The Haussas are generally good- 
looking, with regular and pleasant features and graceful 
figures. The Bornuese have generally a broad-faced, 
heavy-boned physiognomy, which, especially in their 
women, is said to be far from pleasing. 

The territory in which the people of Bornu rose to 
occupy a position of first importance amongst the nations 
of the Soudan was somewhat to the north and east of 
the present province of that name. Kanem, a country 
which now lies in French territory to the north and east 
of Lake Chad, was their first seat of empire, and the 
inhabitants of Bornu still take their native name of 
Kanuri from this circumstance. Under the domination 
of their early kings the territory of Kanem spread, at 
one time, on the east to the borders of the Nile, and on 
the west, Arab historians of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries, who take no note of the Haussa States, 

BORNU 269 

speak of its power as extending to the borders of the 
Songhay Empire. It has been seen in the history of 
the Haussa provinces that they were, at different periods 
of their history, content to pay tribute alternately to 
Songhay and to Bornu. In the north the authority of 
Kanem extended to the Fezzan, and its limits must have 
approached very nearly in its northern, as well as in its 
western extension, to those of Songhay. The historians 
of Songhay describe the extent of Songhay as offering 
a six months' march from frontier to frontier ; Macrizi 
says of Kanem in the fifteenth or early sixteenth century 
that the breadth of its dominions was a three months' 
march. It is under the name of Kanem that we get our 
earliest information about the country, and under that 
name, though El Bekri speaks of it in the middle of the 
eleventh century as a land of idolaters, very difficult of 
access, it seems to have entered at an early period into 
relations with Europe and North Africa. A pagan 
dynasty of Dugu, or Duguwa, reigned from about the 
middle of the ninth century until the end of the 
eleventh century, and, according to the information of 
El Bekri in 1067, this dominion extended on the west to 
the eastern bank of the Niger — that is, over the whole 
of Haussaland. Whether his information was accurate 
or not in detail, it tends to show that the kings of the 
name of Du, to whom he makes allusion, were at the 
time of more importance than any other rulers in that 
eastern territory. In the end of the eleventh century 
a new dynasty of Mohammedan kings was founded, but 
though Islam was brought to Kanem at about the same 
period as to the rest of the Soudan, it did not come 
through the same Morabite agency ; it came direct from 

Under its Moslem kings, Kanem rose rapidly to 
the rank of one of the first powers of the Soudan. It 
entered into close relations with Egypt and the Barbary 
States. We have seen a black poet from Kanem at the 
court of El Mansour, one of the Almohade sovereigns 


of Spain, in the end of the twelfth century. In this and 
the succeeding century the armies of Kanem were very 
powerful, and the kings of Kanem, who maintained con- 
stant intercourse with the Hafside monarchs of the Barbary 
States, were known as Kings of Kanem and Lords of 

Ibn Said, who wrote in the thirteenth century, is the 
first Arab to speak of Bornu by its present name, and 
to define the country lying on the south-western shore 
of Chad as forming part of the kingdom of Kanem. Ibn 
Khaldun, having occasion to notice the embassy which 
has been already mentioned as having been sent by the 
King of Bornu to the King of Tunis about the year 1257, 
adds the information that the capital of Bornu was on 
the same meridian as Tripoli. This fixes for us the 
fact that since the middle of the thirteenth century there 
has been no great change in the position of the Bornuese 
seat of government. At that time a great and successful 
invasion was made by Bornu of the southern country, now 
known to us as Adamawa. The thirteenth century would 
seem to have been a brilliant period of early Bornuese 
history. In this century the power of Kanem was ex- 
tended over the Fezzan, and carried as far north as to 
a place within eight days' march of Augela, and Islam 
was widely disseminated in the Soudan. It is probably 
also to this period that the following passage from Sultan 
Bello's notice must be referred. Speaking of Bornu he 
says : — 

" Fortune having assisted them, their government 
flourished for some time, and their dominion extended 
to the very extremity of this tract of the earth. VVadai 
and Bagharmi, as well as the country of Haussa, with 
those parts of the province of Bautchi which belong to 
it, were in their possession. In the course of time, how- 
ever, their government became weakened and their power 

It is no doubt upon this original dominion over Haussa- 
land that certain shadowy claims of sovereignty on the 

BORNU 271 

part of Bornu existed. Nevertheless, as we have seen, 
the Haussa States were at this period rising into individual 
importance, and Kano did not receive Mohammedanism 
till it was brought to her from Melle towards the end of 
the thirteenth century. This information with regard to 
the source of Mohammedanism in Kano receives interest- 
ing confirmation from the history of Bornu, for in the 
chronicle of the reigns of the kings of Bornu, it is also 
mentioned that religious teachers came from Melle be- 
tween the years 1288 and 1306. In the case of Bornu 
it is added that these teachers were Fulani, but the 
Fulani immigration did not take place in any force until 
a century later. 

We are told that before the twelfth century the kings 
of Kanem were light complexioned, proving beyond all 
doubt their Berber origin, but from the beginning of the 
twelfth century it is distinctly mentioned that they were 
black. Presumably there was intermarriage at an early 
period between Berber rulers and black inhabitants. The 
original inhabitants of the greater part of the country 
which we now call Bornu, were a powerful native tribe 
of the name of Soy or So. No historian, so far as I am 
aware, has attempted to identify them with the Songhay, 
and I have no information which permits me to do so. 
Barth mentions the " So " as the name of one of the four 
divisions of the Fulani, but he does not appear to regard 
these people as Fulani. They seem to have been a 
remarkable and very active people, who towards the end 
of the thirteenth century rose against their conquerors, 
and in a long struggle, which lasted for nearly a hundred 
years, had almost succeeded in breaking the power of 
Kanem. In the year of Ibn Batuta's visit to Melle, 
1352-53, King Edris of Bornu appeared, however, to be 
holding his own against them. Bornu was doing an 
active trade in slaves, eunuchs, and yellow cotton 
cloth, with Tekadda on the north-eastern border of the 
Mellestine, and from this period the Soy appear gradu- 
ally to lose their importance, though they remain as 


a turbulent element in the composition of the Bornu 

Edris would appear to have enjoyed a long and com- 
paratively peaceful reign, but under his immediate suc- 
cessors the eastern neighbours of Kanem, a people called 
the Bulala, on the other side of Lake Chad, fought against 
the people of Kanem with such vigour and pertinacity 
that the power of the Empire of Kanem was broken, and 
the kings were driven to abandon the old capital Njimye 
or Jima, and to fix the royal residence in Bornu. This 
happened about the year 1380, after which time different 
kingdoms rose to independence in the territory lying be- 
tween Lake Chad and the Nile, and the Kanuri definitely 
adopted the present territory of Bornu on the western 
side of the lake as the seat of their kingdom. 

From this date we hear more constantly of Bornu 
as interfering with the Haussa and southern pagan states 
of the country lying between the Niger and the Benue. 
It may be remembered that, towards the end of the four- 
teenth century, a king of Bornu was driven to remain 
for several months at Kano. His stay is courteously 
described as a " long visit." As a matter of fact, it was 
one of the effects of the Bulala invasion from the east, and 
represents the final expulsion of the Bornu dynasty from 
Kanem. The King of Bornu came, it is said, to Kano 
with a great host, many men with drums on horseback, 
fifes, flags and guns, and he was accompanied by many 
Mallams. A usurper who was placed upon his throne 
was shortly afterwards driven from it and killed by the 

Thus in the first hours of their adversity the Bornuese 
kings received shelter and help in Haussaland, but it was 
not altogether without foresight on the part of Kano of 
evils to come. When the reigning King David of Kano 
took counsel with his Galadima, or Prime Minister, as to 
the manner of entertaining the King of Bornu, the Gala- 
dima warned him : "If you allow this man to stay in 
one of the towns of your territory he will take possession 

BORNU 273 

of the whole place." It was therefore determined to 
make new houses for the Bornu party in an open field 
shaded by locust trees, between Kano and a frontier 
town at which they had paused. The King of Kano 
did all that he could to please his guests, and the next 
King of Bornu, recovering his throne, was known by 
the title of the Haussa King, or the King from Haussa- 
land. Fifty years later another King of Bornu was 
driven to beg for similar hospitality from Kano, and it 
was not refused. The name of the Bornu king was 
Othman Kalnama, and he remained in Kano to the time 
of his death. This was under the great King of Kano, 
Mohammed Rimps, and marks perhaps the highest point 
of the prosperity of Kano, and the lowest point of the 
fortunes of Bornu before the rise of the Songhay Empire 
in the West. 

All these obligations did not affect the memory of 
the rulers of Bornu when, after a long succession of civil 
wars, they at last made good their position on the throne, 
and, in the person of Ali Ghajideni, who began to reign 
in 1472, opened a new and glorious epoch of Bornu 
history. Ali Ghajideni, who built the old capital of 
Bornu, now known by the name of Birni, three days 
west of the modern town of Kuka, on Lake Chad, 
reigned from about 1472 to 1504, and therefore brought 
the history of Bornu up to the moment of the Songhay 
conquest of Haussaland. He reformed the government, 
reorganised the army, and renewed the ancient glory of 
Bornu. He fought many and successful local wars, and 
amongst other exploits marched against Kano, where 
his immediate predecessor had dethroned a weak and 
incapable ruler. 

It will be remembered that the Wankor6, or Wan- 
garawa, were mentioned as having brought Moham- 
medanism in the thirteenth century to Kano. This 
people effected a settlement in the Haussa country, and 
in the fifteenth century the province of Wangara, or 
Ungara, is described as lying south-easterly of Zamfara 



and westerly of Bornu. This would seem to place the 
territory of the Wangarawa between the jurisdiction of 
Kano and Bornu ; so, at least, the rulers of these two 
places would appear to have considered. Bornu appar- 
ently regarded the Wangarawa as in its dependence. 
The King of Kano, who, in spite of some discrepancy 
of dates, I take to have been the contemporary of Ali 
Ghajideni, having a cause of quarrel with them, took 
their punishment into his own hands. He marched 
against one of their towns, took it, and, sitting under 
a bread-fruit tree by the principal gate, ordered that all 
the roofs should be taken off the houses and burned, but 
that no prisoners should be made. The King of Bornu, 
demanding an explanation of the outrage, Kano refused 
to give it, and war was the result. According to the 
Kano chronicle the King of Bornu was beaten. Accord- 
ing to the Bornu chronicle Bornu had resolved upon 
the complete conquest of Wangara, when once more the 
Bulala attacked Bornu upon the east, and diverted its 
attention from western fields. There is no mention of 
any conflict with Kano in the Bornu account. 

The very brilliant reign of Ali Ghajideni covered the 
period at which the Portuguese were making settlements 
upon the Guinea coast, and the intercourse of Bornu with 
Arab civilisation in the days of its early greatness having 
caused its territories to be well known, it is not sur- 
prising that the fame of Ali Ghajideni should rank with 
that of his contemporary, Sonni Ali of Timbuctoo. It 
has already been mentioned that the territories of the 
Mellestine were shown upon European maps in 15 12. 
The territorial limits of Bornu were known to Euro- 
peans at an even earlier date, and Bornu is shown upon 
Portuguese maps in 1489. 

The attack of his eastern neighbours upon Ali Gha- 
jideni prevented him from carrying any further his 
intended subjugation of the west, and, in the meantime, 
Songhay, under the great Askia, achieved from the west 
what Ali Ghajideni had intended to do from the eastern 

BORNU 275 

frontier of Haussaland. Askia Mohammed intervened, 
as has been already related, in the local disputes of the 
Haussa States, and conquered them all. From this time 
the central Haussa States lay between Songhay and 
Bornu, as between the upper and the nether mill- 

It may be remembered that, on the return of the 
Askia from his second expedition into the Haussa country, 
in February of 15 16, an influential chief, of the name 
of Kanta, revolted, and that he formed an independent 
principality, of which Kebbi, on the eastern side of the 
Niger and to the west of Zamfara and Katsena, became 
the seat. Sultan Bello, who gives us some further 
account of him, describes Kebbi as being under his 
rule a very extensive and fruitful province, which was 
peopled half by Songhays and half by natives of Kat- 
sena. The town of Birni-n-Kebbi, which is to be found 
now on the north-western frontier of Northern Nigeria, 
lies almost directly between Katsena and Gao, and it 
was natural that the at-that-time important province of 
which it was the capital should be peopled partly from 
one and partly from the other source. As will presently 
be seen, this hybrid province played so important a part 
in defending Haussaland from the inroads of the Moors 
that its rise to power in the early part of the sixteenth 
century is worth mentioning. Probably Kanta's court 
formed a nucleus of meeting for all the more vigorous 
of the turbulent spirits of Songhay, who for any reason 
were discontented with the administration of the Askias. 
The growth of luxury and the love of ease, which 
gradually undermined the Songhay Empire, left Kebbi 
perhaps untouched, and thus, at the end of the sixteenth 
century, there was yet a refuge in the territory lying 
between Haussa and Songhay, for all that remained of 
local energy and courage in the empire of the fallen 
Askias. It was in Kebbi that the Moors met with their 
first reverse ; Borgu and Kontagora sustained the opposi- 
tion to their rule, and the rocks of Almena, in the pro- 


vince of Zaria, marked the furthest limit of their advance 
into Haussaland. But these were among the events 
of a century yet to come. At the beginning of the 
sixteenth century Kanta had but just estabHshed his 
independence, and the vigour of his arms was yet to 

AH Ghajideni of Bornu lived only through the first 
twelve years of Askia's reign. But Bornu, like Song- 
hay, was at this epoch of its history fortunate in the 
succession of two remarkable kings ; Edris, who fol- 
lowed his father, Ali Ghajideni, on the throne of 
Bornu, was scarcely less enlightened than his great 
neighbour of Songhay. He extended the power of 
Bornu, and carried still further the administrative re- 
forms initiated by his father. The early part of his 
reign was distinguished by conquests in the East. He 
defeated the Bulala, who had interfered with his father's 
intended conquest of Wangara ; but when he in turn 
directed his arms against Haussaland, he was met and 
defeated by Kanta. Sultan Bello gives an account of 
the campaign, attributing it to Ali Ghajideni, but as 
Kanta did not establish his independence until after the 
death of Ali, we must take the opposing forces to 
have been under the command, not of Ali, but of his 
equally warlike successor, Edris. 

Sultan Bello says that at this time Kanta, who 
had conquered the country, governed it with equity, 
and had established peace in its very extremities and 
remotest places. Bello makes no distinction apparently 
between the conquests of Kanta as a general of Song- 
hay and as an independent prince. He speaks of him 
as having conquered Katsena, Kano, Zaria, Gober, 
and the country of Asben or Ahir, all of these being, 
of course, really the conquests of Songhay and not 
of Kebbi. It would seem to have been some act of 
oppression on Kanta's part towards one of these towns, 
which gave the King of Bornu an excuse to march 
against him. It is evident that the campaign on this 

BORNU 277 

occasion was undertaken with the consent of the 
Haussa States, for the armies of Bornu marched north 
of Daura and Katsena and to the west of Gober with- 
out opposition till they entered the country of Kebbi 
and reached a fortified place called Surami. Then after 
a battle, which lasted from the rising to the going down 
of the sun, Bornu was victorious, and Kanta was 
forced to fly westward. But the fort held out. The 
Sultan of Bornu was unable to reduce it, and, finding 
himself obliged to raise the siege, he marched south 
to Gando and thence easterly towards Bornu. Kanta 
reorganised his army, and rapidly, pursuing the Bornu 
force, he came up with it at a place called Onghoor 
(presumably Ungar or Wangara) and there inflicted a 
crushing defeat. 

The Sultan of Bornu after this again found himself 
fully occupied in the East, where, as a result of more 
than one brilliant campaign, he entirely subdued the 
old enemies of Bornu and re-established his authority 
over Kanem. Kanta himself shortly afterwards died, 
but the successors of Edris of Bornu continued to dis- 
pute with the descendants of Kanta the supremacy of 
Haussaland, while, as we have seen, the life of the 
individual Haussa States went on without much regard 
either for Kebbi or for Bornu. The chronicles, though 
somewhat confused, would seem to assign the final 
victory to Bornu. 

This period of constant war was the period which 
we have seen to have been one of great adversity in 
the Haussa provinces. Although we find no mention in 
their chronicles of the campaigns of their greater neigh- 
bours, there can be no doubt that the long struggle 
between opposing powers for the suzerainty of Haussa- 
land must have contributed much to the conditions of 
disturbance and unrest which issued for them in local 
wars. It is only amazing that under the circumstances, 
every province being at war with each other, and two 
great powers fighting over their heads, there should 


have been any possibility of the continuance of trade 
and the spread of learning, of which the chronicles 
continue constantly to speak. That trade should have 
persisted under conditions so adverse says much for the 
commercial tenacity of the Haussa people. Agriculture 
probably suffered even more severely than trade, and 
the great famine with which the century ended was 
widespread. The famine is mentioned in the chroni- 
cles of Bornu as extending to that country, and we 
find the statement in the Songhay accounts of the 
Moorish conquest that during the campaigns of the 
first two years (1591-92) on the eastern side of the 
Nio-er, the Moorish soldiers were reduced by famine 
to eat the pack animals on which the transport of the 
army depended. 

Nevertheless, under a king of the name of Mo- 
hammed, Bornu rose about the middle of the sixteenth 
century to a position of great prosperity and power^ 
and its relations with the outer world were maintained. 
The causes which operated to cut off the countries ot 
the Western Soudan from their old connection with Spain, 
and to interrupt their communication with Christian 
Europe, did not apply to the Mohammedan East, where 
the Turks were the ruling power. Embassies from 
Bornu to Tripoli are frequently mentioned, and before 
the end of the sixteenth century the armies of Bornu, 
more advanced than the majority of European troops, 
were armed in great part with muskets. The Spaniards 
were ahead of the rest of Europe in this respect, but 
it may be remembered that at the battle of Lepanto, 
which was fought in 1571, only the crews of the more 
important ships were armed with muskets. In an en- 
gagement which Drake had with the Spaniards off the 
American coast in 1572, the English crews were armed 
only with bows and arrows, and when Queen Elizabeth 
ascended the throne in 1557, the principal weapons in 
the arsenals of England were bows and arrows. Yet, 
if the Kano chronicle is to be trusted, the troops of 

BORNU 279 

Bornu had "guns" as early as the beginning of the 
fifteenth century. 

From Ali Ghajideni, who ascended the throne of 
Bornu in 1472, to Edris Alawoma, who was the con- 
temporary of Queen Elizabeth and died in 1603, the 
destinies of Bornu were guided by almost uniformly 
vigorous and enlightened kings. There were a few 
short reigns of no importance, but for the most part 
the period was for Bornu, as for Songhay, one of 
great and prosperous development. The Government 
of Bornu was, in theory at least, somewhat less despotic 
than that of Songhay, and was conducted by the 
medium of a council of twelve, between whom the 
principal offices of State were divided. According to 
some authorities the monarchy itself was elective, but 
with the interruption of certain revolutions it seems to 
have descended very generally from father to son. 
The territory of Bornu was divided, like that of Song- 
hay, into districts of which each had its governor, but 
it does not appear to have had the superior grouping 
of districts into viceroyalties, which in some degree 
assimilated the organisation of the Songhay Empire 
to that of Imperial Rome. In the records of Bornu 
there is frequent reference to the position and influ- 
ence of the queen mothers, and women appear to 
have played a not unimportant part in its history. In 
the latter half of the sixteenth century, Aicha, the 
mother of King Edris, herself reigned for a short 
period before her son's accession. She was a very 
distinguished woman, to whose advice it is believed 
that her son owed much of the wisdom of his conduct. 
Under her influence an important embassy was sent 
to Tripoli, and the policy of maintaining intercourse 
and trade with the outer world by the medium of 
the Turkish Empire, which had always been the policy 
of prosperous Bornu, was actively developed. In this 
latter period of Bornuese prosperity, foreign trade and 
local conquest form the two important notes of its his- 


tory. We have seen that conquests had been effected 
on the East, and the domination of Bornu over Kanem 
had been substituted for the ancient domination of 
Kanem over Bornu. Campaigns, though not always 
successful, had been carried out in the West, and the 
Haussa States at a somewhat later date became one by 
one tributary, though not in any true sense subject to 

Ali Ghajideni in the fifteenth century reorganised 
the Empire of Bornu. His immediate successors en- 
larged and aggrandised it. Edris Alawoma, at the end 
of the sixteenth century, undertook the special task of 
consolidating it and binding its somewhat heterogeneous 
elements into one political whole. He once more gave 
attention to the pagan Soy, who continued at that date 
to defy the power of Bornu in independent fastnesses of 
their own. Having reduced them with much difficulty to 
submission in the north-western portions of his territory, 
he carried away a great number of the people, and the 
remainder fled eastward to Kanem. He marched then 
south-westward against other pagan tribes, and it is 
especially mentioned in recounting his campaigns that 
he achieved his success mainly by the force of his 
muskets. He then undertook a great campaign against 
Kano, which must have occurred during the worst period 
of the misfortunes of Kano, during that twenty years 
when, the spirit of the Kano people being broken, they 
were obliged "to sit at home and be afraid." Never- 
theless, though the strong places of the province of 
Kano fell into the hands of Bornu, the town itself suc- 
ceeded in maintaining its independence. As this fact is 
acknowledged by the Bornu chronicle, it may be held 
to be undoubtedly accurate. After Kano, Edris turned 
his arms northwards towards the Berbers of the desert, 
and attacked the " five tribes " or Berbers of Asben, 
with whom it has been mentioned that Gober durinpf 
all this period of its history maintained a perpetual war. 
Here, too, Edris was victorious to the extent of impos- 



ing a tributary sort of allegiance. North, south, east, 
and west he carried his conquering arms. To give a 
list of the many tribes that he subdued could only weary 
the reader, but amongst many unfamiliar names that of 
Katagum, which is of sufficient importance to form now 
one of seventeen provinces of Northern Nigeria, may be 
selected for mention as having at this time made its 
submission to Bornu. 

The result of twelve years of fighting is all that the 
reader can be asked to carry in his mind. This was 
to weld the Empire of Bornu into one victorious and 
formidable whole, of which the troops, armed with a 
weapon superior to any then known in the Soudan, had 
acquired a military reputation of being practically irre- 
sistible as early as the year 1583, that is, eight years 
before the coming of the Moors. Had Songhay under 
the later Askias kept pace with her neighbour of 
Bornu, and introduced as she might have done the 
musket into the armament of her troops, it is possible 
that the whole subsequent fate of the Soudan might have 
been changed. It was the possession of muskets by the 
Moors which, as will presently be seen, enabled them to 
make an easy conquest of a once famous empire, while 
it is probable that the possession of the same weapons 
by Bornu was among the causes which operated to check 
the Moorish invasion at the limits which it actually 

Edris Alawoma himself was killed in battle in the 
year 1603 by the rudest of pagan weapons, a hand-bill 
or hoe, thrown at him by an adversary concealed in a 
tree, when he was reducing one of the tribes of Southern 
Bornu to obedience. But at the moment of the Moorish 
conquest of Songhay he was still upon the throne, and 
the thirty-three years of his prosperous and enlightened 
reign had placed Bornu in a strong position to contest 
the suzerainty of Haussaland with the new-comers. 



The slight outline which has been given of the course 
of history in the eastern portion of the West African 
Soudan, renders it possible to construct some picture of 
the general condition of the country from the shores of 
the Atlantic to those of Lake Chad at the moment of the 
coming of the Moors in 1591. 

In the west the Empire of Songhay having risen 
to the zenith of its prosperity and fame, still enjoyed, 
according to its own historians, the blessings of peace and 
order throughout its vast extent. We are expressly told 
that when the Moorish army arrived in the Soudan, it 
found the country to be one of the most favoured of 
the Almighty for wealth and for fertility. Peace reigned 
in all its provinces, and, thanks to the admirable organisa- 
tion established by the great Askia in the beginning of 
the century, the orders of the monarch were obeyed 
implicitly from the frontiers of the Eastern Viceroyalty 
of Dandi to the borders of the Atlantic, and from 
the southern mountains to Touat and Tegazza in the 
northern desert — as well as in all the dependencies of 
these Berber towns. The awful misery which followed 
when the supreme power was suddenly destroyed is laid, 
without hesitation, to the count of the conquerors, who 
are held responsible by the local annalists, not only for 
what they did, but, very properly, for the ravages of 
the powers of disorder which they let loose. " All 
was changed in a moment," says the Tarikh-es-Soudan. 
" Danger took the place of security, destitution of opu- 
lence, trouble, calamities, and violence succeeded to tran- 


quillity. Everywhere the populations began to destroy 
each other. In all places and in every direction rapine 
became the law, war spared neither life nor property, 
nor the position of the people. Disorder was general, 
it spread everywhere till it reached at last the highest 
degree of intensity." 

But while the author of the Tarikh attributes this 
condition of things directly to the Moors, we find in his 
own pages, long before the coming of the conquerors, 
indications which serve to explain not only how the 
Moors made of this great and wealthy country such an 
easy prey, but also to show that in the reigns of the 
later Askias the strenuous spirit of heroism, which had 
marked the rise of that dynasty, was dead, and the 
aspiration to live on a higher plane of civilisation than 
their predecessors had given place to nothing more 
noble than a love of luxury. The Songhay Empire at 
the end of the sixteenth century had become fatally con- 
tent to exist upon the tradition of its former greatness. 
One generation had borne the labours of preparing the 
ground for seed. Another, when the harvest stood 
ripe, thought only of gorging themselves with the fruit. 
Thus, when all seemed to be at its best, the empire 
was in truth nearest to its end. After describing the hap- 
piness of the country under the earlier Askias, and the 
perfect order which prevailed, the Tarikh says, in words 
which might have applied to decadent Rome : " Things 
continued thus until towards the moment in which the 
Songhay dynasty approached its end, and its empire 
ceased to exist. At this moment faith was exchanged 
for infidelity ; there was nothing forbidden by God which 
was not openly done. Men drank wine, they gave them- 
selves up to vice. ... As to adultery, it become so 
frequent that indulgence in it was almost accepted as 
permissible. Without it there was no elegance and no 
glory. . . , Because of these abominations," continues 
the pious annalist, "the Almighty in His vengeance 
drew down upon the Songhay the victorious army of 


the Moors. He brought it through terrible suffering 
from a distant country. Then the roots of this people 
were separated from the trunk, and the chastisement 
which they underwent was exemplary." 

But, if at the end of the sixteenth century the body 
of the Songhay Empire stood ready for the axe, there 
were offshoots to which the felling of the trunk was 
destined to impart perhaps only the more vigour. In 
the western province, Masina, already mentioned as 
having established in the eleventh century, with the 
help of its Fulani population, an independence which, 
though it had paid tribute to many rulers, was sacrificed 
to none, was destined yet to play a part of some 
importance in the future of the country. In the east 
the Viceroyalty of Dandi, including the territory of the 
independent Sultans of Kebbi, the practically inde- 
pendent Haussa States, and the State of Borgu, with 
its neighbouring territory of Southern Gurma, was the 
refuge of all that was yet loyal to the old traditions of 
Songhay. The dynasty of Kebbi, founded in rebellion, 
was vigorous with the old vigour of conquering Songhay, 
and it had not cut itself off from the prosperity of the 
empire to accept a tame share in its defeat. To the 
Moor who knew no difference between them, Kebbi had 
a lesson of its own to teach. 

Beyond the rampart which was created from Kebbi 
to Nupe by these states of the Eastern Niger lay Haussa- 
land, a congeries of states, Mohammedan and pagan, of 
great fertility, of no little local industry, famous from the 
earliest times for their commercial and agricultural activity, 
but containing populations composed of such extraordinarily 
diverse elements that internecine war was their habitual 
condition. Their lack of internal cohesion deprived them, 
notwithstanding the many advantages of their position, 
of external strenfjth. ThouQfh one or other in turn assumed 
a locally dominant position, they can hardly be said either 
to have made or to have resisted conquest, but under 
all conquest they preserved their individuality and per- 


sisted in their habits. The black traders of the eleventh 
century, whom we hear of in the pages of El Bekri, did 
not differ substantially from the black traders whom Idrisi 
mentions in the twelfth century, and Ibn Batuta speaks 
of in the fourteenth century. Their trade prospered 
through the great period of the fifteenth century, and 
when, in the sixteenth century, Kano fell upon evil days, 
Katsena rose quickly to take her place. The agricultural 
population was driven off the land, but misfortune does 
not seem to have altered the habits of Haussa traders. 
When the outposts of Songhay fought with the out- 
posts of Bornu, Haussaland was the battlefield, but the 
Haussa States took no part in the war. Like a bed of 
rushes they have ever allowed the storms of encircling 
forces to beat over their heads. At times they have 
appeared to be laid low, but when the hurricane has 
passed they have raised themselves, no worse for the 
buffeting of fate. Their populations, which have never 
enjoyed any wide foreign reputation, were perhaps locally, 
in their modest way, the best known and the best informed 
of all the peoples of the Soudan. They were very 
numerous, and in their recognised capacity of travelling 
traders through all the states, their language was one 
of the most widely spoken in the Soudan. By the end 
of the sixteenth century it supplied to the eastern portion 
of the country a lingua franca, which to the present day 
remains as a means of communication with those "great 
multitudes of negroes and of other people," of whom Leo 
Africanus confesses in the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, that he " could not well note the names." 
Travelling as they did in small trading caravans through 
the entire country, they became naturally acquainted 
with the affairs of every neighbouring kingdom. They 
were themselves well known from the shores of the 
Atlantic to the lip of the sacred well of Zem-Zem, where 
they drank as pilgrims within the precincts of the temple 
of Mecca — and as peace was essential to their trade, they 
quarrelled only with next-door neighbours and rivals. 


Peaceful abroad and quarrelsome at home, they earned 
the character, which they enjoy to-day, of being at once 
the best fighters and the most industrious traders of the 

Eastward again of Haussaland and its multitudes, in- 
cluding the settlements which have been already men- 
tioned of Fulanis, Wangaras, and all the southern pagan 
states, lay the well-organised Empire of Bornu, occupy- 
ing on the western side of Lake Chad a territory more 
extensive, but not widely different from, its present 
position, as shown upon modern maps, while to the north 
and east it spread round the shores of the great lake, 
and extending far into the desert, was almost conter- 
minous with the Egyptian frontiers of the Turkish 

It will be remembered that in the contemporary life 
of Europe Mohammedanism had been steadily gaining 
in the East, under the Turks, what it had been losing 
in the West under the Saracens. The Seljukian Turks 
had overrun Egypt itself in the middle of the thirteenth 
century. Their Mamelukes or foreign soldiery elected a 
Sultan for themselves in Cairo in the year 1260, and 
though the Abbasside Caliphs preserved a nominal supre- 
macy, which was chiefly religious, Egypt was, in fact, 
governed by the Mameluke Sultans, until they in turn 
were overthrown by the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman 
Turks were established in Europe, in the Balkan Penin- 
sula, in 1353, exactly one hundred years before their 
final conquest of Constantinople. About the year 1389 
their famous leader, Bajazet, accepted the title of Sultan 
from the Abbasside Caliph of Egypt, who still kept the 
name of Head of the Moslem Church. Shortly after 
accepting the title of Sultan he defeated the confederate 
army of the Christian powers at Nicropolis, and while 
an attack of the gout prevented him from fulfilling a vow 
to stable his horse in St. Peter's at Rome, he was able 
so closely to besiege Constantinople that it must have 
fallen in 1402 but for the intervention of Tamerlane. 


Tamerlane, chief of that other branch of the Tartars 
which is best known to history as the Moguls, was the 
representative, though not the legitimate descendant, of 
the heirs of Genghis Khan. He frankly aspired to con- 
quer the world, and he had conquered Persia, Tartary, 
and India, when, hearing on the banks of the Ganges 
of the conquests of Bajazet in Europe, he resolved to 
march against the rival of his military glory. The Mogul 
and Ottoman conquests already touched each other in the 
neighbourhood of Erzeroum and the Euphrates. Tamer- 
lane's first move was to attack Syria, which was still 
subject to Egypt. Aleppo, Damascus, and Bagdad fell 
to his arms amid awful massacres. Ibn Khaldun re- 
lates the interview he had with him outside the walls 
of Damascus, in 1401. 

But the Mamelukes defended their territory with 
vigour, and the losses and fatigues of the campaign 
caused Tamerlane to turn from Egypt and Palestine, and 
concentrate his forces upon the Ottoman Empire. At 
the battle of Ancyra, in Anatolia, Bajazet was overthrown 
and taken prisoner, in 1402, and while the Mogul armies 
advanced to the Asiatic shores of the Sea of Marmora, 
Bajazet himself died in captivity. Thus, in 1403, Tamer- 
lane held Asia from the Ganges to the Mediterranean. 
But the Ottoman Turks held one passage into Europe 
at the Hellespont, and the Christians of Constantinople 
held the other at the Bosphorus. Bajazet's successor, 
Suleiman, and the Greek Emperor, both agreed to pay 
tribute to Tamerlane on the condition that his armies 
did not pass the Straits. Egypt also agreed to pay him 
tribute, with a similar condition that he should not pass 
into Africa. How long these compositions with superior 
force, on the part of rich, weak nations, would have held 
good, cannot be known. Tamerlane died in 1405. After 
his death the Mogul Empire gradually sank beneath the 
processes of time and war, till it lost itself in the sham 
splendour of the throne of Delhi. 

The empire of the Turks, on the contrary, recovered 


from the short and sharp attack of Tamerlane. In 142 1 
a grandson of Bajazet succeded to his five uncles as 
Amurath II., and during his capable reign of thirty years, 
the Turkish Empire reconstituted itself alike in Europe 
and in Asia Minor. The capture of Constantinople, though 
attempted by Amurath in 1422, was reserved for his 
successor, Mohammed II. The town was taken by the 
Turks on the 29th of May 1453, and with it fell the 
Christian Empire of the East. St. Sophia became a 
Turkish mosque. The throne of Constantine and his 
successors became the seat of Islam. There was at 
that time no power in Christendom which could dis- 
lodge the Turk from the almost impregnable position 
of Constantinople. It was in vain that the feeble heirs 
of the family of Paleologus sold their imperial rights to 
European sovereigns. Before the end of the fifteenth 
century the Greek Empire in Europe and Asia had 
passed into Turkish hands, and the sack of Otranto 
by the Turks in 148 1 convulsed the Christian world 
with fear that the conquest of Rome might be added 
to that of Constantinople. 

But Mohammed died in 1481, and his successors 
turned their attention rather to the east and south. The 
Turkish fleets which had been created during the reigns 
of Amurath and Mohammed, and numbered no less than 
250 galleys, under the command of the famous Barbarossa 
scoured the African coasts. Algiers and Tripoli became 
Turkish strongholds in the opening years of the six- 
teenth century. Egypt and Syria, which had continued 
to exist under the Mamelukes during the period of 
European conquest, were taken by Selim I. in the 
year 1517. The Knights Templars were driven out of 
the island of Rhodes on Christmas Day of 1522. Tunis 
was captured in 1534, Gibraltar was sacked in 1539, 
and though the fortress was held for Spain, the Turkish 
fleet sailed round the coast, pillaging the Spanish towns 
as they went. Thus, from one end of the Mediterranean 
to the other, Turkish corsairs became the terror of the 


sea. The greater part of the North African coast passed 
into Turkish hands, a position which was not conquered 
without much fighting, taking and re-taking of towns. 
Tunis and Tripoli changed hands more than once. 

Italy itself was not spared. A separate squadron, 
under Dragout, another famous Turkish sailor, ravaged 
its coasts. In 1569, in a great naval campaign, the 
Turks attacked and pillaged the coasts and islands 
belonging to Venice. They took parts of Crete and 
Cyprus. Finally, on the 1st of August 1571, Famagosta 
capitulated to the Turks, after a long and arduous siege, 
and the island of Cyprus was theirs. This was the last 
Turkish triumph of the century. The Christian Powers 
were at last able to combine effectively under the leader- 
ship of Don John of Austria against the common enemy, 
and the battle of Lepanto, which was fought on October 
7th of the same year, destroyed the Turkish sea-power 
in the Mediterranean. 

I owe an apology to the reader for this crude list 
of dates, but the rapid rise of a relatively new Moham- 
medan power on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean 
must be borne in mind in order to understand with 
what a different world the commercial and intellectual 
intercourse of Bornu was carried on, to that known and 
frequented in the West by the caravans of Melle, and 
of Songhay in its earlier days, and also to explain the 
fury of hatred and persecution by which the Moorish 
citizens of Spain were, in the fifteenth century, attacked, 
conquered, and driven out of the country which they 
had once civilised and still enriched. As the crescent 
waxed stronger in the East it waned in the West, and 
the decline of those nations of the Western Soudan 
which were dependent on their touch with Western 
markets and Western sources of civilisation, is propor- 
tionately observable. 

It was not to be supposed that Christian Powers, 
however indifferent individually to each other's fate, 
could collectively regard with indifference the rise of 



a force which threatened to destroy them all. Had 
they not been enfeebled by jealousies, corruption, and 
superstition, they must have learned long before the 
end of the sixteenth century to combine in such force 
as to prohibit the further advance of Islam. But in 
the fifteenth century the darkness of the Middle Ages 
was still upon them. Gibbon, in relating the fall of 
Constantinople, quotes from ^neas Silvius, afterwards 
Pope Pius II., who thus describes the state of Christen- 
dom: "It is a body," he says, "without a head; a 
republic without laws or magistrates. The Pope and 
the Emperor may shine as lofty titles, as splendid 
images ; but they are unable to command, and none are 
willing to obey ; every state has a separate prince, and 
every prince has a separate interest. What eloquence 
could unite so many discordant and hostile powers under 
the same standard.-* Could they be assembled in arms, 
who would dare to assume the office of general ? What 
order could be maintained? What military discipline? 
Who would undertake to feed such an enormous multi- 
tude? Who would understand their various languages, 
or direct their stranger and incompatible manners ? What 
mortal could reconcile the English with the French, 
Genoa with Arragon, the Germans with the natives 
of Hungary and Bohemia? If a small number en- 
listed in the Holy War, they must be overthrown 
by the infidels ; if many, by their own weight and 

This picture of the weakness of Europe in the 
fifteenth century needs no amplifying touches. It may, 
however, be recalled that at the very moment that 
Mohammed II. was engaged in besieging and sacking 
Constantinople, a private German citizen of the name of 
John Gutenberg was no less absorbed in the work 
of perfecting at Mentz an invention of cut metal types 
from which he printed, in the years between 1450 and 
1455, the first typed copy of the Latin Bible. If the 
work of Mohammed tended to consolidate Christendom 


by the blows which were struck against its distracted 
kingdoms from outside, the work of Gutenburg was 
perhaps even more effectual in rendering the angular 
forces malleable by mutual comprehension from within. 
It took more than a hundred years for the use of 
printing to spread to some of the remoter parts of 
Europe. There need be no surprise that it took more 
than a hundred years for Europe to emerge sufficiently 
from the disunited state described by ^neas Silvius, 
to present a united front to the Turk, and it is a 
curious but not inappropriate coincidence that we find 
the use of printing extended to the farthest western 
shore of Europe by its first adaptation to Irish characters 
in 1 57 1, the very year of the battle of Lepanto. There 
is no need to dwell on the part that must have been 
played by the discovery of this art alone in the move- 
ment which drew the warring nations of Christendom 
together. Similarity of thought is the great unifier of 
peoples, and from the middle of the fifteenth century 
the learned in all the nations of Europe had the means 
of communicating their thoughts not only to each other, 
but to the body of their respective nations. 

But if in 1453 Europe was unfit, as a whole, to 
oppose the progress of the Turk, there were individuals 
who burned with a holy zeal. The sack of Otranto, 
which, in 1481, had almost driven the Pope to abandon 
Italy, found Isabella and Ferdinand on the throne of 
Spain, and it is hardly to be wondered at that these 
Catholic sovereigns, sharing to the full in the grief and 
terror which Turkish triumphs were spreading through 
Christendom, were inclined to act with something of the 
harshness of panic towards the Mohammedan peoples 
who filled the southern towns of Spain, and still held 
within the precincts of Granada an independent kingdom 
upon Spanish soil. The policy pursued against the 
Moors, the ruin of the industries of Spain by the ex- 
pulsion, under circumstances of the utmost rigour, of 
immense multitudes of its most skilful artisans and most 


valuable citizens, stands out in such striking contrast to 
the general wisdom and benevolence of Isabella's mild 
and enlightened reign, that it can only be understood 
by reference to a state of feeling which was stirring the 
orthodox Catholics of every court of Europe to preach 
the duty of a new crusade against the infidel. The 
natural sagacity of Isabella would lead her to deal 
directly with the infidel upon her own borders, rather 
than to waste her energy and resources in the endeavour 
to unite Europe in a common movement. The Spanish 
sovereigns were besieging Granada when Columbus ob- 
tained from them, in camp, in April of 1492, the long- 
desired permission to start on his voyage of discovery 
to the West, and it is indicative of the general tone of 
feeling in Europe, that he vowed to provide out of the 
proceeds of his enterprise, if it should prove as success- 
ful as he hoped, funds for the prosecution of a crusade 
to deliver Palestine from the Turks. From Gibraltar to 
Constantinople a dread of victorious Islam inspired the 
policy of every court. 

The result was the expulsion of Mohammedanism 
from Western Europe. When Granada submitted to 
Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, the Moors were not at 
first driven out of Spain. They remained as subjects 
of the Catholic kings. But Cardinal Ximenes, Isabella's 
great adviser, did not long remain content with this mea- 
sure of moderation. In 1502 they were expelled. The 
contents of their famous libraries were collected and de- 
stroyed, with the exception, as has been already men- 
tioned, of some 300 books of medical science. Their 
property, offered in nominal sales, for which gold and 
silver were not allowed to be used in payment, was, in 
fact, subjected to wholesale pillage. All that they took 
with them to enrich the cities of Africa to which they 
went, was the skill, the taste, the learning, the industry, 
the habits of good citizenship, which each man carried 
in his breast, and by the loss of which Spain was for 


ever impoverished. Spain has never recovered from 
the blow dealt against its public life by the wisest of 
its sovereigns. 

Africa, which for a time seemed to receive all that 
Spain had lost, suffered on her part by the severance 
which took place between her own life and the pro- 
gressive life just then opening upon new possibilities of 
the West. Isabella died in 1504. She was succeeded by 
her daughter, Joanna, the mad queen, and after her by 
Charles V., who ascended the throne in 15 16, just one 
year before the Turks took Egypt from the Mamelukes. 
Charles V., Emperor of Germany as well as King of 
Spain, and champion of Catholicism against the tendencies 
of the Reformation in Europe, reigned for forty years, 
and during the whole of that time showed himself the 
determined enemy of Islam. He pursued the Moors to 
the shores of Africa. He took their coast towns. He 
engaged the European Powers to help him in closing the 
ports of the Mediterranean to their ships. He fought 
indiscriminately against Moors and Turks, and in beating 
the Moors, prepared the way for the triumph of the 
Turks, who proved themselves a harder enemy for him 
to overthrow. Tripoli had been already taken by Spain 
in 1 5 10. When the Turks took the island of Rhodes 
in 1522, Charles V. gave Malta to the Knights Templars, 
and five years later established them in the very camp 
of Islam by giving them Tripoli, which they held till the 
Turks took it again in 1551. 

Oran, which had also become Spanish in the early 
part of the century, was gallantly defended against suc- 
cessive attempts, alike on the part of Moors and Turks, 
to repossess themselves of it. In the siege of 1563, in 
the succeeding reign, the Turks used muskets, heavy 
artillery, and mines, but without avail, for the place, on 
the eve of surrender, was relieved by the fleet of Andrea 
Doria. In 1535 Charles led in person the attack on 
Tunis, which the Turks had taken in 1534, and he sue- 


ceeded in capturing the town, which was held by a 
Spanish garrison till the Turks, under Barbarossa, re- 
took it in 1550. But though the Christians were able to 
take certain seaports, and eventually, after the battle of 
Lepanto, to hold the sea, the Turks gradually possessed 
themselves of the coast of Northern Africa. The pro- 
vinces which surrounded the seaports were in their hands. 
"Where the Turks have once taken foot," says Marmol, 
who wrote about the year 1573, "they can never again 
be dislodged." 

Charles V. abdicated in 1556. His son Philip abated 
nothing of his policy, and while he persecuted Protestants 
in Flanders, he found time to pursue with equal zeal 
Turks, Jews, and heretics in the Mediterranean. This 
reign saw the battle of Lepanto. The fleets of Spain 
and Italy could close the Mediterranean to the Turks, 
but the Italians and Spaniards could never penetrate 
into Africa. All that happened was that the Turks — 
banned as militant infidels by the nations of Europe — 
possessed themselves of the fruitful provinces stretching 
from Egypt to Morocco, that harbours once crowded 
with the merchant shipping of the world became mere 
nests of corsairs, sallying out to prey upon a trade that 
passed them by, and that between the interior of Africa 
and the civilised world a barrier was erected which, as 
years went by, became impassable — Africa was cut off 
from Europe. 

The Moors, suffering equally beneath the blows of 
Turks and Christians, withdrew into the north-western 
corner of the continent. Unable to maintain external 
relations with any equal power, they lost the finer elements 
of national life, and rapidly became a decadent people. 
During the long struggle of the sixteenth century we 
hear of them as taking part, under their chiefs, from time 
to time in the sieges and battles of the coast. At the 
end of that century they made one effort, which was as 
the last flicker of their expiring glory, to obtain for 
themselves in some other direction the outlet which had 


been closed upon the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. 
The North was held against them by superior force. 
Before they submitted to the living death which isolation 
marked for them in the heart of Africa, they endeavoured 
to break through to the South. The outcome of their 
endeavour was the Moorish conquest of the Soudan. 


*' DjouDER Pasha was a little man with blue eyes." Thus 
begins the chapter in the Tarikh which recounts the 
coming of the Moors. Another account says that he 
had a light complexion of the colour of steel. Djouder 
Pasha was the commander - in - chief of the Moorish 
army. He had at his disposal for the purposes of 
an expedition to the Soudan only a small force of 
something under 4000 men, but they were well armed 
with muskets — which were apparently unknown to the 
western armies of the Soudan — they were well mounted, 
well disciplined, well equipped with tents and medical 
stores, and, for the purposes of an army which meant to 
live upon the country through which they passed, they 
were sufficiently well provisioned. Their organisation 
had been reformed on the model of the Turks, with 
whom the armies of Morocco had had more than one 
occasion to measure their strength. 

A little steel-coloured man with blue eyes, at the 
head of such a force, was in a position to play, if he chose, 
amid the rich and supine populations of the Soudan, a 
part not unlike that of the leader of a pack of wolves 
among flocks of sheep. The disproportionate numbers 
of the sheep were only so much the more to the advan- 
tage of the wolves. Djouder Pasha was an accomplished 
soldier. He had gained experience in the wars of the 
coast with Turks and Spaniards. The results to be 
obtained with modern weapons were well known to him, 
and it is probable that he fully appreciated the importance 

of moving with a small, rather than with a large unwieldy 



force, across the difficult and waterless deserts which had 
hitherto served as the best military defence of the Soudan. 
When a military nation wishes to fight with one 
which it has reason to believe to be unprepared, a cause 
of quarrel is never far to seek. Morocco found its cause 
of quarrel with Songhay in the possession of the salt 
mines of Tegazza. It will be remembered that these 
mines lay upon the western road leading from Tafilet, 
or Sidjilmessa, to Ghana and Timbuctoo. Their posi- 
tion upon modern maps is about 8° W. by 26° N. They 
were within the limits of the Mellestine, and when the 
power of Songhay had succeeded to that of Melle, they 
were included in the territories of the Songhay Empire. 
They furnished the principal salt supply of the Soudan, 
and their possession was therefore a matter of supreme 
importance to Songhay. We have seen that during the 
sixteenth century the Sultans of Morocco had from time 
to time made efforts to dispute the supremacy of Songhay 
over this valuable border district, and that their claims 
had been vigorously rejected by the earlier Askias. It 
happened, in the year 1590, when the second Askia Ishak 
was on the throne of Songhay, and that of Morocco was 
occupied by Muley Hamed, that a certain Songhay official, 
who had been interned at Tegazza as a punishment for 
malpractices by a previous Askia, succeeded in effecting 
his escape, and fied across the northern border to the court 
of Morocco. He there represented to Muley Hamed the 
ease with which the conquest of Songhay, in the present 
condition of the country, could be effected, and he treach- 
erously placed all his knowledge at the disposal of the 
enemy. As a consequence of these representations, Muley 
Hamed wrote to Askia Ishak, and announced that he 
proposed to invade his country, unless he were willing 
to transfer to Morocco the salt mines of Tegazza. The 
sovereign of Morocco urged that he had a right to 
possess the mines, since it was only thanks to his exer- 
tions that the country was defended and protected against 
the incursions of the Christians. Askia Ishak rejected 


the claim as indignantly as the Ishak of a previous gene- 
ration had rejected a similar proposition, and, by way of 
defiance, accompanied his answer with the significant 
present of spears and iron shackles. 

Muley Hamed accepted the defiance, and in November 
of 1590 Djouder Pasha, with a staff of ten picked generals 
and a very carefully selected body of officers, crossed the 
border at the head of his already well-prepared little force. 
Military expeditions had been attempted before against 
Songhay by Morocco. They had always failed in con- 
sequence of the difficulty of moving large bodies of men 
through the desert, and their record had been records of 
disaster. Djouder Pasha knew his business better. The 
march, which is supposed to be one of from fifty to sixty 
days for an ordinary caravan, seems to have doubled itself 
for his army, which, with carriers, hospital corps, &c., 
amounted to about 10,000 men; but on March 30, 1591, 
he encamped safely on the Niger. It was a river which 
had never before been seen by Moorish troops, and the 
general celebrated the event by a great banquet. The 
force appears from the account to have passed in the 
desert to the east of Timbuctoo, and to have then de- 
scended upon the river at a point still east of Timbuctoo, 
leaving the town entirely untouched. 

After recruiting his forces with food and drink in the 
fertile country which they had entered, Djouder marched 
without delay towards Kagho. 

In the meantime Askia Ishak, having information of 
the approach of the Moors, called his generals and the 
principal personages of the kingdom together, in order, 
it is said, to ask for their opinion, and to consult them 
on the measures to be taken. But nothing can more 
graphically represent the fallen condition of the country 
than the description which is given in two lines of the 
debates of this council: "Whenever judicious advice was 
given it was hastily rejected." To the last moment the 
officials of Songhay refused to believe that the Moorish 
army would succeed in reaching the river. Finally, how- 


ever, an army of 12,000 horse and 30,000 foot was put 
in motion. 

On the 1 2th of April, 1591, the forces met at a 
place called Tenkoudibo, which I have not been able 
to identify, but which would appear by the context to 
be in the valley of the Niger, on the northern side of 
the river, perhaps something more than half-way be- 
tween Timbuctoo and Kagho. The battle resulted in 
the absolute defeat of the Songhay army. The cavalry 
was routed, the chivalry of Songhay fled. But among 
the rank and file of the foot-soldiers a touching incident 
is reported. Seeing that the battle was lost, and being 
pledged by their oath as soldiers not to fly in case of 
defeat, the infantry, we are told, kept their oath by 
throwing their bucklers upon the ground and sitting 
upon them to await the onset of Djouder's troops, 
and were all massacred in that attitude. Askia Ishak 
fled with the rest of the army, sending word to the 
populations of Kagho and Timbuctoo to evacuate these 
towns, and to join him on the other side of the river 
in the province of Gurma. He himself, without passing 
through Kagho, fled to Korai Gurma. He camped there 
with the remnant of his army, surrounded by lamenta- 
tions. Next day, "with cries and vociferations," the 
passage of the Niger was commenced in little boats. 
The boats appear to have been insufficient. In the 
confusion which resulted great numbers perished, and 
wealth, "of which God only knows the amount," was lost. 
Djouder marched on Kagho, but in that town there 
remained no one except a few aged persons, teachers, 
students, and merchants, who had not been able to 
leave in a hurry with the rest of the population. 

A certain Khatib Mahmoud Darami, an old man held 
in high esteem amongst the people, received Djouder 
Pasha and his staff, and entertained them "with mag- 
nificent hospitality." He was treated by them in return 
with every consideration. He had long discussions with 
Djouder, and became the negotiator of the terms of 


peace which were offered by Askia Ishak. The account 
which has reached us of these appears to be very in- 
complete. All we are told is of one condition — that 
Songhay should pay an indemnity of 100,000 pieces of 
gold and 1000 slaves, and that the Moorish army should 
return to Morocco. To these advances Djouder — who 
seems to have been very little impressed with the riches 
of Kagho — was content to reply that he was not a prin- 
cipal : he was the servant of the Sultan, and could only 
refer the question to Morocco. 

After consulting with the Arab merchants of the 
town, he drew up proposals which he despatched by a 
sure messenger to Muley Hamed, and leaving Kagho, 
after having been only seventeen days in the town, he 
withdrew his troops to Timbuctoo, where he resolved to 
await the answer of the Sultan. The people of Tim- 
buctoo, in view of the difficulty of transporting them- 
selves and their property with safety into the province 
of Gurma, had not obeyed the summons of Askia, but 
preferred the chances of negotiation with the Moors to 
the certainty of destruction among their own countrymen. 
They only profited so far by the order to evacuate the 
town as to hold themselves dispensed from any duty to 
defend it. They received Djouder coldly, but without 
opposition, and he, who during the whole of this early 
period appears to have kept his troops in admirable 
control, selected the quarter of the town which he pre- 
ferred, and proceeded to build a fortress in it, while he 
kept the greater part of his army encamped outside the 
town. Cold civilities were exchanged on both sides be- 
tween him and the authorities. People augured, it is 
said, nothing good from the position of affairs ; but a 
sort of thunderous truce was maintained until the mes- 
senger should have time to return from Morocco with 
the signification of the Sultan's will. The messenger 
left Kagho in April. The Moorish troops entered Tim- 
buctoo on the 30th of May. It was not until August 
that the answer of the Sultan was received. 


In the meantime, though Djouder held his troops 
sternly in leash, Askia Ishak remained in the far eastern 
provinces, and the Songhay Empire became aware that 
one form of central authority had been destroyed, and 
that no other had been substituted. Subversive forces 
began to work on all its borders. The antagonistic 
tribes which had been held in peace by the strength of 
supreme authority broke into war. The first to rise 
were tribes in the neighbourhood of Timbuctoo itself, 
who plundered the rich territory on the banks of the 
river which is known as the Ras-el-ma, or Head of the 
Waters, and carried off the inhabitants as slaves. Then 
the people of Zaghawa, a particularly wealthy district 
to the south-west, which was mentioned, it may be 
remembered, by Ibn Batuta, did the same thing in 
territories lying within the Viceroyalty of Kormina. The 
territory of Jenne was ravaged in the most horrible 
manner by pagan barbarians from the south who had 
long been a terror to its inhabitants. Throughout the 
west there was an outbreak of brigandage, and among 
the tribes who profited by this period of licence to 
enrich themselves at their neighbours' expense are to be 
found more than one under the leadership of Fulani 
chiefs. In the eastern portion of the empire the dis- 
affected populations tended to gather round the defeated 
Askia in the territory of Borgu to which he had fled. 

Upon all this Djouder's blue eyes appear to have 
looked with steely indifference while he waited for the 
orders of the Sultan. They came in a form which was 
not expected. The receipt of the proposal for peace 
aroused nothing but fury in Muley Hamed's mind. 
That such a victory as had been achieved should lead 
to so small a result appeared to him to be the evidence 
only of treachery. Advisers were not wanting who 
whispered that the general had been bribed, and in a 
transport of rage the Sultan deposed Djouder Pasha from 
his command. A personal enemy, Mohammed ben Zer- 
goun, was made commander-in-chief in his place. 


Djouder's first intimation of the storm was the 
arrival of Mohammed ben Zergoun at Timbuctoo, accom- 
panied by a new staff and invested with full powers 
by the Sultan. 

Mohammed immediately deposed Djouder and assumed 
the supreme command, at the same time indulging his 
personal enmity by the bitterness of a military cross- 
examination, in which he taunted Djouder with his 
inactivity, and asked what had prevented him from 
pursuing the Askia across the river. Djouder answered 
that it was the lack of boats, which had all been 
removed by the enemy. Mohammed ordered boats 
to be constructed, for which purpose the plantations of 
trees which had been made within the walls to beautify 
the town of Timbuctoo were cut down, and the panels 
of the doors were torn from the houses. It was the 
beginning of the destruction which was soon to fall upon 
the country. From this time Songhay was allowed no 
pause upon the downward path. 

The orders of Muley Hamed to his new commander- 
in-chief were that Askia Ishak was to be driven from 
the Soudan, and Mohammed lost no time in proceeding 
to carry his instructions into effect. Djouder Pasha 
had reached the country in April, at the beginning of 
the rains, and his period of inactivity corresponded to 
the season of highest flood, when in many districts the 
Niger, overflowing its shores, spreads like a lake over 
wide tracts of country. Mohammed arrived at Tim- 
buctoo on the 17th of August. In the last week of 
September, when the rains are drawing towards their 
close, the army, having with it Djouder Pasha and all 
the revoked generals who had composed Djouder Pasha's 
staff, marched south-eastward towards Kuka in Borgu, 
where Askia Ishak was established. In a battle which 
was fought on October 14th Ishak was completely 
defeated, and fled within the confines of the Viceroyalty 
of Dandi to the same spot, Korai Gurma, at which the 
remains of his army had crossed the river when fleeing 


southwards from Djouder Pasha. They now recrossed 
in the opposite sense, and from this time the river in its 
eastern course formed the defensible frontier which was 
maintained between the Hngering remains of Songhay 
authority and the country which was soon to be known 
as the Moorish Soudan. Mohammed occupied the 
position evacuated by Ishak in Borgu, and we are able 
to form an estimate of the fighting strength of his 
columns by the fact that the camp included 174 tents, 
each tent containing, in accordance with the Turkish 
model followed by the Moors, twenty fusiliers. He had, 
therefore, at his command a force of 3480 men armed 
with muskets in a country in which the native army had 
fallen into a disorganised rabble, badly led, and armed 
only with bows and arrows. There was no unreasonable 
arrogance in the supposition that he would be able to do 
what he pleased. 

I will not attempt to follow this or succeeding 
campaigns in detail. I will only indicate the essential 

Askia Ishak, intending to fly for safety into the 
territory of Kebbi, was murdered by pagans in Gurma, 
and was succeeded in April of 1592 by a supine brother, 
Mohammed Kagho, who, shortly after his succession, 
offered to take the oath of fidelity to the Sultan of 
Morocco. The famine, which has already been men- 
tioned in connection with the history of Kano, was 
making itself felt, and the Moorish army was reduced 
during its campaign in the eastern provinces to eat its 
pack animals. Mahmoud therefore called upon Moham- 
med Kagho to prove the sincerity of his proposals by 
coming to the assistance of the troops and providing 
them with food. Mohammed Kagho ordered all the 
crops which were ripe in Haussaland to be reaped for 
the benefit of the enemy, and this was appropriately 
enough the last exercise ever made of Songhay authority 
in Haussaland. Mohammed Kagho was required to 
come in person to the camp of the Moors to make his 


submission to the Sultan. He did so, and by order of 
Mahmoud he was treacherously murdered. Of the 
eighty-three notables who accompanied him the majority 
were massacred, but a few of the ablest escaped to group 
themselves round the new Askia, a younger brother of 
Kaofho, who succeeded under the name of Askia Nouh. 
One of the eighty-three, Suleiman, a cousin of Nouh, 
was selected by Mahmoud and proclaimed as a rival 
Askia at the camp near Kuka in Borgu. 

From this time until the authority of the Askias 
altogether disappeared there were always two Askias — 
one at Timbuctoo, appointed and maintained by the 
Moors, and used as a puppet when convenient to give 
a semblance of legitimacy to their acts ; the other, repre- 
senting the wishes of the Songhay people and claiming 
legitimate descent, maintained himself in some degree 
of independence in the Viceroyalty of Dandi, which, 
though it included Kebbi and the practically indepen- 
dent Haussa States, still constituted nominally a portion 
of the Songhay Empire that never submitted to the 

Askia Nouh formed a seat of government in 1592 
near the southern border of the province of Kebbi. 
During some of his earlier battles Kanta's people, it is 
said, could hear the sound of the firing. Nouh was of 
a different temperament from the later Askias, and all 
the efforts of Mahmoud Zergoun were insufficient to 
overthrow the resistance which he organised to the 
advance of the Moors. War continued for two years, 
during which time the Songhay forces, notwithstanding 
their inferior arms, obtained many successes. " Numerous 
and terrible," says the Tarikh, "were the combats which 
took place in this region." On one occasion, at the 
battle of Birni, Mahmoud lost eighty of his best fusiliers. 
Famine and climate worked on the side of Askia Nouh. 
The Moorish army suffered severely. Mahmoud wrote 
to the Sultan that the whole of his cavalry was destroyed. 
Six army corps were sent successively in reinforcement. 


but at the end of two years Mahmoud, still unsuccessful, 
was forced to withdraw, and to turn his attention to Tim- 
buctoo and the Western Provinces. He left Djouder 
Pasha at Kagho in the capacity of lieutenant-governor, 
with the river, along which a chain of fortresses had been 
constructed, to serve as an eastern boundary. We can 
imagine the deposed commander-in-chief smiling grimly 
at the failure of his rival to achieve that which he 
himself had judged it best not to attempt. 


The events which recalled Mahmoud Zergoun to the 
west were of a serious character. The whole country 
was in disorder. Shortly after the army had marched 
eastward, in September of 1591, riots had broken out at 
Timbuctoo, and had continued until the last days of 
December. The Moors, having some difficulty in hold- 
ing their own, had called in the help of the Tuaregs 
of the desert, already employed in ravaging the fertile 
territory of the Ras-el-Ma, and, with the help of these 
allies, had put the town to fire and sword. Nevertheless, 
on the withdrawal of the Tuaregs, the Moors were again 
driven to take refuge in the fortress which had been 
built for them by Djouder Pasha. They succeeded in 
conveying intelligence to Mahmoud of their position, and 
he detached from his army a force of 324 soldiers under 
one of his best young generals, who, marching to the 
relief of the imprisoned garrison, struck terror into 
Timbuctoo. The town submitted, and took an oath of 
fidelity to the Sultan of Morocco. After this, peace was 
for a short time established in Timbuctoo. The roads 
were opened, and the military forces of the Moors were 
directed against the Zaghrani and other rebels who 
were pillaging the surrounding country. Jenn6 also 
made its submission, and took the oath of allegiance to 
the Sultan of Morocco. But the riots were hardly at 
an end in Timbuctoo before similar disturbances broke 
out in Jenn6. The Moorish Cadi of the town was taken 
prisoner, and sent in chains to a distant stronghold in 

the pagan country to the south. The rioters, whose 



forces were largely composed of pagans, ruled Jenn6 for 
a time, and committed many atrocities. They wished 
to elect an Askia for themselves, but were dissuaded 
from that design by the representations of the principal 
Songhay officials that nobody as yet knew what would 
be the issue of the fighting between Mahmoud and 
Askia Nouh. Finally, order was restored in Jenn6 by 
the same young general whom Mahmoud had despatched 
to Timbuctoo, and the heads of the principal rioters, 
sent as proofs of the success of his operations to the 
political governor of Timbuctoo, decorated the market- 
place of that town. Throughout these operations, the 
native forces do not appear to have been uniformly 
opposed to the Moors. On the contrary, the officials, 
at least, appear to have in many instances endeavoured 
to support their authority. There was no well-organised 
movement of revolt, but the general condition of the 
country was fast resolving itself into chaos. 

No sooner was Jenn6 reduced to order, than the 
Tuaregs, once the allies of the Moors, possessed them- 
selves of a Moorish fortress established in the Ras-el- 
Ma, and threatened to attack Timbuctoo. The numbers 
of the Moorish garrison were much reduced, but hearing 
that an army corps sent from Morocco for the reinforce- 
ment of Mahmoud Zergoun was on the way, messengers 
were sent into the desert to hurry its arrival, and with 
its timely assistance the Tuaregs were overthrown. The 
reinforcements were then passed on to Mahmoud Zergoun 
in the east, and reported to him fully the state of affairs. 

Mahmoud Zergoun returned to Timbuctoo in the 
autumn of 1593. He first occupied himself with an 
expedition against the Tuaregs, who were again ravaging 
the Ras - el - Ma, and then turned his attention to the 
internal affairs of Timbuctoo. He had probably good 
reason to doubt the sincerity of the official attitude of 
submission, and so long as riots continued in this and 
the neighbouring towns he suspected some understand- 
ing between the leading citizens and the rioters. 


The first requirement which he made, therefore, was 
that all arms which were in the town should be given 
up. To ensure a complete surrender, an announcement 
was made that on a certain day the houses in the town 
would be searched, with the exception of the houses of 
the jurisconsults and certain privileged persons. The 
natural result of such an announcement was that the 
populace, fearing lest much besides arms would be 
taken by the soldiery in their search, deposited every- 
thing that they had of value with the owners of the 
exempted houses. 

But the measures of Mahmoud ben Zergoun were 
thorough. The jurisconsults — a term which seems in 
the narratives of the Soudan to cover all the educated 
portion of the population — were precisely the class at 
whom he proposed to strike. When the search for arms 
in the houses of the populace had been effected, he 
caused a further announcement to be made that an oath 
of allegiance to the Sultan of Morocco would be publicly 
administered in the Sankore Mosque. The taking of 
the oath was to be accompanied with all due ceremonial, 
and three days were allotted for its completion, October 
the 1 8th, the 19th, and 20th of 1593. 

The two first days of the ceremony are interesting, 
as showing incidentally to what distance the authority 
of Songhay at that time extended in the north and 
west. The first day was entirely occupied by the swear- 
ing of the people from Touat, Fezzan, Augila, and the 
northern regions of the desert ; on the second day 
the oath was taken by people from Walata, Wadan, and 
the western regions ; on the third day none were left 
to take the oath but the jurisconsults and distinguished 
residents of Timbuctoo, who were to swear in presence 
of the assembled people. On that day, when the mosque 
was full, the doors were suddenly closed. Every one 
was told to leave the mosque, with the exception of 
jurisconsults, their friends, and their followers. When 
none but these remained in the building, Mahmoud 


Zergoun ordered the whole of them to be arrested. 
He then divided them into two groups, and sent them 
by different roads to the fortress in which they were 
to be confined. 

Whether by accident or by design, one group was 
massacred. Amongst the victims were representatives of 
some of the greatest famihes of the town. The houses 
of the jurisconsults were then pillaged. Their wives 
and daughters were subjected to every indignity, and 
the whole of their wealth, including that deposited with 
them by the less influential persons of the town, was 
appropriated by Mahmoud Zergoun to himself. The 
families of the jurisconsults, after suffering these injuries, 
were imprisoned, and were kept in confinement for about 
six months. During this interval the Fulani ruler of 
the semi-independent province of Masina made the most 
urgent representations in their favour. Mahmoud, how- 
ever, rejected his advice, and resolved to deport them 
to Morocco. This resolution involved the deportation of 
the whole body of the best society of Timbuctoo. All 
that was cultivated, all that was enlightened, all that was 
rich, refined, and influential, was driven out, and the 
greater number, men, women, and children, were taken 
in chains across the desert. 

The caravan which conveyed them left Timbuctoo 
on 1 8th March 1594. The scenes which were witnessed 
were, we are told, very terrible. Fathers, children, 
grandchildren, men and women, were made to march 
together, "pressed close as arrows in a quiver." They 
were exposed to all the brutality of the Moorish sol- 
diery, and they had a journey of upwards of two months 
through the desert. Amongst the exiles were the most 
distinguished men of letters of the Soudan, and the 
most delicately nurtured women and children of the 
town. Ahmed Baba, the biographer and historian, who 
has already been mentioned more than once, and to 
whom we are indebted for many of the most interesting 
pages of the Tarikk, was among them. Fortunately 


for him, his fame was so widespread as to command 
respect in all centres of learning. When he arrived in 
Morocco he was treated with the respect due to his 
great reputation, and, though he was not permitted to 
return to Timbuctoo for many years, he was given prac- 
tical freedom in Morocco, and allowed to form a school, 
where he continued the life of study and of teaching 
which he had led in the Soudan. Many others were 
less fortunate, and the note is to be found in more than 
one biography of his distinguished contemporaries : "He 
died a martyr in Morocco." 

It is interesting, in the midst of all that the exiles 
had lost, to find them chiefly concerned for the de- 
struction of their libraries. " I," said Ahmed Baba after- 
wards to the Sultan of Morocco, " had the smallest 
library of any of my friends, and your soldiers took 
from me 1600 volumes." Others, those who in the 
happier days had so generously lent their books to all 
who needed them, lost every volume that they possessed. 
Unfortunately, while other forms of wealth were greedily 
appropriated, the contents of the libraries were destroyed. 

The sack of Timbuctoo was the signal for the letting 
loose of all the evils of lawless tyranny upon the country. 
From this time the history of the Soudan becomes a 
mere record of riot, robbery, and decadence. The 
appropriation to himself of the immense wealth of Tim- 
buctoo did not redound to the ultimate advantage of 
Mahmoud ben Zergoun. The caravan deporting all the 
distinguished exiles of Timbuctoo arrived in Morocco 
on the ist of June 1594. With it arrived information 
which led the Sultan to understand the extent of the 
wealth which had been confiscated, in comparison to 
which the 100,000 gold pieces sent to him as the royal 
share was as nothing. Informers further carried to 
him reports of the independent arrogance of Mahmoud 
ben Zergoun, from which it was not difficult to draw 
the deduction that he aimed at nothing less than the 
independent sovereignty of the Soudan. "When any 


one speaks to him of the Sultan," said one report, "he 
draws his sword half out of the scabbard, and says, 
'Here is the Sultan!'" The indignation of Muley 
Hamed knew no bounds, and he despatched a new 
Pasha, Mansour Abdurrahman, to the Soudan with 
orders to arrest Mahmoud ben Zergoun and put him 
to an ignominious death. 

With this sentence, of which he was of course quickly 
informed, hanging over his head, Mahmoud determined 
to make what he could of his position. By the cruel 
licence of his rule, the western part of the Soudan had 
become too hot to hold him. The Fulani ruler of the 
province of Masina, who had interceded urgently, but 
vainly, in favour of the noble families of Timbuctoo, 
had revolted against the Moors. The once prosperous 
territory of Jenne was also in perpetual disorder. After 
a short campaign against Masina, of which, though it 
was accompanied by widespread massacre of the peace- 
ful population and destruction of the crops, the result 
was practically nil, Mahmoud resolved to rally all his 
forces for a campaign against the still independent 
Askia of Songhay in the east, and to put the greatest 
possible distance between himself and the avenging 
emissary of the Sultan. 

Askia Nouh, having in the meantime strengthened 
his own position in the province of Dandi, and entered 
into close alliance with Kebbi on his northern frontier, 
had succeeded in forcing the chain of Moorish fortresses 
at a place called Kolen on the Niger, and advanced 
into the Bend of the Niger, where he awaited the 
coming of Mahmoud. Mahmoud called upon Djouder 
to join him with all available forces from Kagho. 
But Djouder finding a suitable excuse, Mahmoud, who 
seems in the first instance to have been successful and 
to have possessed himself again of the territory of 
Gurma and Borgu, pressed on in an easterly direction, 
taking with him the dummy Askia Suleiman as far as 
the rocks of Almena. Unless there exist some other 


rocks of Almena not mentioned, so far as I have been 
able to ascertain, by any other writer, these must have 
been the rocks already alluded to once or twice, in the 
province of Zaria, where in very ancient days a colossal 
statue is said to have been carved. The spot is in- 
teresting, because it marks the farthest extension of the 
conquest of the Moors in Haussaland. 

Mahmoud camped at the foot of the rocks, which 
were strongly held by pagan troops. He determined, 
much against the advice of Askia Suleiman, to whom 
the country was well known, to endeavour to storm 
the position by a night attack. Suleiman represented 
that nothing short of certain death could result. Mah- 
moud listened to no advice. Death lay behind him 
as well as in front. He selected a storming party of 
his best men, and in the early hours of the morning 
made the attempt. The result was as Askia Suleiman 
had predicted — Mahmoud himself was among the first 
to fall, pierced by many arrows. In the attempt to 
rescue his body his men were put to flight. The 
pagans cut off his head and sent it to Askia Nouh, 
who in his turn sent it to Kanta, the King of Kebbi, 
and it was exposed on the end of a stake in the 
market-place of Lika for a very long time. Suleiman 
the Askia rallied the Moorish troops and effected a 
hurried retreat, ultimately succeeding in joining Djouder, 
under whose orders the troops remained until the 
arrival of Mansour from Morocco. 

In 1595 the combined Moorish troops, under the 
command of Djouder Pasha, made one final and suc- 
cessful 'attempt to deal with what remained of the 
Songhay Empire, and in a great battle which took 
place between them and Askia Nouh in the Bend of 
the Niger in June of that year, the Songhay army 
was hopelessly defeated and put to flight, leaving the 
population at the mercy of the Moors. The people 
were carried into captivity, and placed by the Moors 
under the jurisdiction of Askia Suleiman. 


Djouder now became the ruling power o( the Soudan. 
The new Pasha Mansour died, poisoned, it is said, by 
Djouder's orders, when he was on the eve of a further 
expedition against Dandi. His successor, Mohammed 
Taba, also about to march into the eastern province, 
died, poisoned, again it is said by orders of Djouder. 
The next general, Mostafa. died, strangled by orders 
of Djouder. There would be no interest in following 
further the details o( the history of the Moorish con- 
quest of the Soudan. It is enough to say that nominal 
Askias continued to succeed each other on the south- 
eastern district, which for a long time kept the name 
oi' Dandi, while attempts to invade Hauss<iland by a 
more northern route were vigorously and successfully 
opposed by the independent Sultans of Kebbi. The 
domination o( the Moors may therefore be said to have 
never spread more than nominally beyond the south- 
eastern Bend of the River Niger. 

In the west the history of the Moorish dominions 
presents a record of ceaseless fighting, accomp.\nied by 
the destruction of all that was civilised and admirable 
in the Soudan. Djouder, the best of the Pashas, who 
knew his own mind and could keep his rude soldiery 
in order, even though his methods were somewhat 
trenchant, returned to Morocco in 1599. He was a 
loyal soldier and servant of his sovereign. He was 
also an able administrator, and had he been properly 
supported he would have converted the Soudan into a 
rich dependency of Morocco. As it was. he was made 
the object during his stay in the Soudan of ceaseless 
cabals. In 1599 his counsels were, however, needed 
nearer to the throne. He was recalled with honour, 
and he returned no more to Timbuctoo. 

After him Pasha succeeded Pasha, each to be the 
victim oi' militarv revolt and civil misrepresentation, while 
misrule prevailed in the Soudan until, in 1612. the last 
Pasha appointed by Morocco was deposed by the troops, 
who put their general in his place. After 1012 i\\c army 


in the Soudan elected its own rulers. The tribute to the 
Sultan was not paid, the country conquered at so much 
cost became independent of Morocco, and the native 
populations of the Western Soudan, barred from all 
access to civilisation, fell under the despotism of a purely- 
military tyranny. From this date their descent in the 
scale of nations was rapid and inevitable. By the end 
of the seventeenth century they had become practically 
what they now are. 



Ahmed Baba records that the Sultan Muley Zidan, son 
and successor to Muley Hamed, told him at a later 
period that, from the time of Pasha Djouder to that of 
Pasha Suleiman, his father, Muley Hamed, had sent in 
different army corps 23,000 of his best soldiers into the 
Soudan, and added : " All this was a pure loss. The 
whole of the men perished in the Soudan, with the ex- 
ception of 500 who returned to Morocco and died in 
that town." As a matter of fact, the Sultan was ill- 
informed. His armies, as we have seen, had not perished 
in the Soudan, but had simply cut themselves off from 
their allegiance, and had formed in the southern countries 
an independent system of military brigandage of which 
the remains exist to the present day. 

But for all practical purposes the Soudan itself was 
from this date lost to the world. Its military tyrants 
had their own reasons for breaking off relations with 
Morocco. Morocco in turn was cut off by the religious 
sentiment of the Western world from all connection with 
Southern Europe, and the political rivalry of the Turks 
deprived her at the same time of the position which 
she might otherwise have occupied upon the Barbary 
coast. The Saracens, whose rule had once extended 
from the borders of China to the western coast of Spain, 
had become an outcast race, the seat of whose dwind- 
ling monarchy was to be looked for, if anywhere, in 
Morocco, and whose representatives, wandering at hazard 
through the desert wastes of Africa and Arabia, hardly 
knew to which of the cardinal points to set their 


faces when they desired to turn themselves towards 

While access to the civilised world was barred to 
the western portion of the Soudan, the most easterly 
states, Bornu and Haussaland, still kept their touch 
through the Tripoli- Fezzan route with the old markets 
of Egypt and Arabia. Whatever they had of external 
civilisation still came to them by that route from the 
north-east, and the influence permeated through them 
to the rest of the Soudan. But the influence was the 
influence of Turkey, and it is unnecessary to dwell 
on the difference between the Ottoman Empire from 
the sixteenth century onwards, and the civilisation of 
the Egyptian and the Arab which it had overthrown. 
Rome in the great days of the republic might as fitly 
be compared with Italy after the conquest by the Huns. 

Nevertheless, though cut off in the sixteenth century, 
alike by the triumph of Mohammedanism in the east, 
and by the downfall of Mohammedanism in the west 
of Europe, from all true touch with northern centres of 
civilisation, the Soudan could not unlearn the lesson of 
centuries. It continued to keep its face turned blankly 
to the north. I have endeavoured to show that through- 
out its history the touch of the Soudan with the world 
had been maintained ever through the desert to the 
north. Everything that was interesting, its new races, 
its religions, its science, its literature, its commerce, its 
wars, had come to it from the north. It faced north 
to civilisation. And behind it to the south there had 
always been the unknown, the barbaric, the uninhabitable. 
It is no doubt this last qualification which maintained 
the character of the equatorial region in regard to the 
other two. From about the latitude of 7° southwards 
the climate of the Western Soudan became practically 
uninhabitable for those finer races which, whether they 
derived their origin from Egypt or elsewhere, required 
a good climate in which to attain to their natural limits 
of perfection. The Copts have a saying that "in the 


beginning when God created things he added to every- 
thing its second." " ' I go to Syria,' said Reason ; ' I 
go with you,' said Rebellion. 'I go to Egypt,' said 
Abundance; 'I accompany you,' said Submission. 'I 
go to the desert,' said Poverty ; ' I will go with you,' 
said Health." Barren though it was, the reputation of 
the desert which lay to the north had been a reputation 
of health from time immemorial. It had its dangers, 
but all that escaped from them alive was the better for 
the experience. For those who knew how to traverse 
it, its sands were but as the sea, and its edges were 
the most favoured portions of the Soudan. In pro- 
portion as the fertile belt receded from the desert it 
became unhealthy and unsuitable to the habitation of the 
higher races. 

I have tried to show that, through the whole of the 
history of these higher races, their tendency had been to 
drive southwards before them everything that was weak 
or degraded or outworn. All the lower human types to 
be met with in the country went southwards into the 
equatorial belt, where frequent rain and the swampy over- 
flow of rivers running to the coast develops a malarial 
climate unsuitable to higher activities. In the early tradi- 
tion, quoted by Herodotus, pigmy races seem to have 
inhabited the country of the Middle Niger. At the pre- 
sent day they are to be found in the regions of the 
Congo. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the 
cannibal belt extended along the northern slopes of 
the Kong Mountains to about 12° north latitude. Now, 
though there are some exceptions, it is rare to find 
cannibals north of 7°, and the southern base of the Kong 
Mountains may be taken as the limit of habitation of the 
pure negro. 

The movements of religion will, I think, be proved, 
when research has obtained clearer results than can now 
be securely claimed, to have corresponded to the move- 
ments of race. Fetishism, which is now to be met with 
chiefly in the strip lying between the Kong Mountains 


and the coast, extended at one period to the north of 
Songhay and Haussaland. It has been related in the 
early myths of Gao, of Kano, of Daura, that the killing 
of the fetish and the substitution of a higher form of 
religion was the beginning of their recorded history. 
This higher form of paganism, which would appear to 
have been derived from sources similar to those that 
furnished the religions of Phoenicia, Egypt, and Arabia, 
seems gradually, at some very early period, to have pushed 
fetishism southward before it, and to have held the 
ground to the north until, in the four hundred years 
between the tenth and the fourteenth centuries, Moham- 
medanism was generally accepted along the northern 
border. The higher form of paganism then suffered the 
fate which it had itself inflicted upon fetishism. It was 
driven south, and in turn drove fetishism farther before 
it, until, as in the present day, the religions of West 
Africa could almost be defined by latitudinal lines. If, 
following the opinion quoted in the earlier portion of 
this book from a distinguished French authority, we take 
io° as the most southerly limit of Mohammedanism, and 
give 7°, as I think we may be justified in doing, as the 
farthest extension northwards of fetishism, we get three 
degrees, from 7" to 10°, in which the higher forms of 
paganism may be held still to prevail. As a matter of 
fact, these latitudinal divisions will be proved to be too 
arbitrary. M. de Lauture wrote upwards of half a century 
ago, and Mohammedan influence has since his day extended 
farther south. On the other hand, the higher paganism 
also extends in places farther north than the limit which he 
assigned. In the Nigerian Provinces of Zaria, Bautchi, 
and Yola, through which the tenth parallel extremity 
passes, but which extend to and even beyond 11°, many 
tribes of pagans still exist. And I have little doubt that 
the same observation would hold good in French territory 
farther west, with which I am unacquainted. 

The general drift, however, of the observation is, I 
think, sound, and it is with this that we are for the 


moment concerned. There have been evidently three 
stages in the history of West Africa, to which three great 
religious movements have corresponded. There was a first 
and very early period of what I may call pure negroidism, 
to which the religion of the fetish corresponded. During 
this period pigmy races occupied the Middle Niger, and 
fetish worship prevailed upon its banks. There was 
a second period, still very early, of occupation by peoples 
whose origin is variously stated to have been from 
India, Babylon, Persia, ancient Egypt, and Phoenicia, and 
with this occupation came a form of paganism of which 
the rites, still practised, have points of similarity with what 
we know of the worship of Astarte, Jupiter-Ammon, and 
Isis. There was a third period of Arab influence and 
subsequent conquest, of which the beginning may be 
placed in the ninth or tenth century of our era, that was 
accompanied by the spread of the Mohammedan religion. 
The Soudan, under the higher form of paganism, attained, 
as its parent nations in the north and east had attained, 
to a relatively high stage of civilisation. Indeed, the 
Fulani conquerors of Haussaland in the nineteenth cen- 
tury put forward the unfounded claim that, up to the 
period of their conquest, Mohammedanism was scarcely 
known in the great cities of the Haussa States. This, as 
has been shown in the chapters upon Haussaland, was 
not the case, but undoubtedly paganism of the finer type 
continued to flourish for a long period, and is now, after 
a thousand years of Mohammedanism, still to be met with 
side by side with the faith of Islam. The difference 
between these two was not so great as the difference 
between paganism and fetishism. It was fetishism, and 
fetishism only, which was banished with the lower negroid 
races to the jungle belt of the coast. 

These considerations of the general movement of 
civilisation in West Africa bring us to an important 
development in its history. The first chapter of European 
settlement in the country was opened at a critical moment. 
During the latter half of the fifteenth century, while the 


Turks were pressing upon Eastern Europe and interfering 
with all the old routes of the Indian and Chinese trade, 
the Portuguese, in their capacity of an Atlantic people, 
were making courageous efforts to find another and a 
safer road by sea to the Eastern markets. Already, as 
has been seen, they had crept round the shoulder of the 
African coast, and had made a few cautious settlements 
upon its shores. In 1497 ^^^Y attained the object of 
their desire, and Vasco da Gama doubled the Cape of 
Good Hope. The date of the expulsion of the Moors 
from Spain was 1502. Thus, within five years of each 
other, there happened two events which profoundly in- 
fluenced the history of the Soudan. The expulsion of 
the Moors, followed during the sixteenth century by 
the wars of Charles V. and his successors against 
Mohammedanism upon the Mediterranean coasts, closed 
the old means of approach by land to the territories of the 
finer races of the Soudan. The discovery of the passage 
of the Cape of Good Hope opened at the same moment 
new means of approach by sea. It diverted the whole 
stream of European intercourse with the far East, and 
as the caravan trade of Egypt, Persia, and Arabia sank 
into insignificance, the maritime trade of the Atlantic rose 
in importance. The Atlantic Ocean became a highway 
of the world, and while, all unaware of the change, the 
peoples of the interior continued to look vainly towards 
the closed avenues of the north — the west coast of 
Africa fronting on the Atlantic began to face no longer 
north but south to civilisation. The sea was open to 
all who had ships to sail upon it. Thus, when Europe 
approached West Africa, it was upon the coast that her 
adventurers landed. It was with coast natives that she 
had to deal — natives who had from time immemorial 
been enslaved — and it was in the coast climate that her 
settlements were made. The coast belt was too broad 
for her to traverse. Its inhabitants were savage, its 
climate was deadly, its jungle impenetrable without the 
auxiHary force of steam. For upwards of 400 years 


Europe held the coast. Slaves were hunted for her in 
the far interior. Ivory was shot for her, gold was washed 
for her; but Europe herself, the civilisation, the order, 
the justice for which her name now stands, penetrated 
no farther than perhaps twenty miles inland. 

Thus not only did the finer races of the Soudan lose 
touch with the civilised world, but the civilised world 
lost also touch with them. Their records were preserved 
by Arab writers, and modern Europe, in its religious 
fervour, had banished Arabic from its literature. The 
traditions of intercourse with the Soudan had been all 
traditions of Saracen Egypt and of Moorish Spain. 
Turks had destroyed the one, Ferdinand the Catholic 
had obliterated the other. By the end of the sixteenth 
century the mystery of Africa had closed round these 
ancient races, and they were lost to history for a period 
that was to last three hundred years. 



The first chapters of European intercourse with the 
West Coast of Africa are not chapters of which we 
have any reason to be proud. I do not propose to 
relate in detail the history of early European settlement 
upon the coast, but the relations of civilisation with the 
natives had certain general characteristics which it is 
necessary very briefly to indicate. They cannot, how- 
ever, be fairly indicated without a constant recollection 
of the fact that the races with whom Europe had now 
to deal were not those fine races of the northern terri- 
tories known to ancient historians as Nigritia, but the 
generally negroid inhabitants of that strip which was 
for a long time included under the appellation of the 
Guinea Coast. Barbot, a Frenchman, who traded with 
West Africa in various capacities for upwards of twenty 
years towards the end of the seventeenth century, and 
who, writing both in French and English, is perhaps to 
be counted as the best and most voluminous historian of 
the coast, defines Nigritia as extending northward from 
8° to 23°, and Guinea as extending southwards from 
8° to the coast. The history of European settlement 
deals exclusively with the southern strip. 

The progress of the Reformation in Europe through- 
out the sixteenth century tended to deprive Papal decrees 
of the authority which once attached to them, and 
throughout that and the succeeding century the nations 
of the Atlantic coast competed eagerly with each other 
for a share of the newly-opened African trade. With 
the exception of France, where, however, a great in- 


dustrial population professed the Protestant faith, the 
countries which contested with Portugal the validity of 
the papal gift to her of all countries which she might 
discover to the east of the Azores, were of the Reformed 
religion. France justified herself, perhaps, by the argu- 
ment that she had prior claims, for it is stoutly asserted 
on her behalf, and the claim is admitted by some foreign 
writers, that during the fourteenth century, and before the 
approach of the Portuguese, French adventurers had dis- 
covered and French companies had traded with the West 
Coast of Africa. Such trade had not, however, according 
to the accounts which are given of it, proved successful, 
and all traces of French occupation had disappeared 
before the Portuguese discoverers of the middle of the 
fifteenth century made Europe acquainted with the coast. 

Whatever may be the truth of this story, France 
was among the earliest and the most successful of the 
competitors of the Portuguese upon the coast. She 
was very shortly followed by the English, Dutch, Danes, 
and Prussians. The first Portuguese company was 
formed in 1444 for the purpose of exploring the coast, 
and it initiated the European trade in slaves by sea. 
Both Spain and Portugal had long been supplied with 
slaves from the Soudan by land. 

Spain, having its hands full elsewhere, willingly entered 
into an agreement with Portugal not to interfere with its 
possessions in Africa. Towards the end of the fifteenth 
century the King of Portugal formed a Guinea Com- 
pany, and caused forts to be built at Accra, Axim, El- 
mina, and at other places up and down the coast. The 
Governor-General of these forts resided at Elmina. 
No attempt was made or could be made to penetrate 
inland, the natives being barbarous, and most of the 
way being, as Barbot tells us, "through vast, thick 
forests, swarming with robbers and wild beasts." This 
part of the coast, now known as the Gold Coast, was 
the best part of the coast for gold, and though inland 
wars often spoilt the trade, the position of Governor 


at Elmina was regarded as one in which a European 
could speedily accumulate vast wealth. It was as a 
rule bestowed upon some king's favourite, and by the 
gradual operation of this system the garrison, we are 
told, came to be commonly comprised of "lewd and de- 
bauched persons," intent on making speedy fortunes. 
The Portuguese Government also used the West Coast 
from a very early period as a place of deportation for 
convicts. No wonder, therefore, says Barbot, " that the 
histories of those times give an account of unparalleled 
violences and inhumanities committed there by those 
insatiable Portuguese." 

Barbot does not over-estimate the character of the 
blacks with whom the Portuguese had to deal. " They 
are," he says, "generally extremely sensual, knavish, 
revengeful, impudent liars, impertinent, gluttonous, ex- 
travagant in their expressions, and giving ill language, 
luxurious beyond expression, and so intemperate that they 
drink brandy as if it were water, deceitful in their dealings 
with Europeans and no less with their own neighbours, 
even to the selling of one another for slaves if they have 
an opportunity, and, as has been hinted before, so very 
lazy that rather than work for their living they will rob 
and commit murders on the highways and in the woods 
and deserts. ... It is very dangerous travelling in that 
country. . . . They are so very dexterous and expert at 
stealing that the ancient Lacedaemonians might have learnt 
from them the art." Nevertheless this certainly open- 
minded judge thought that the Portuguese treated them 
too badly for human nature of any sort to endure. 

In 1587 the blacks rose against the barbarities of the 
Portuguese, surprised the fort of Accra, and razed it to 
the ground. The French, who had as yet only a very 
slight footing upon the Guinea Coast, seized the occasion 
for intervention, made the most of their opportunities, 
and from that date the power of the Portuguese declined. 
The French Senegal Company established itself success- 
fully upon the Senegal, and became in the course of the 


following century the principal French company in West 
Africa. A French West India Company also traded to 
the Slave and Ivory Coast, and the French company 
on the Senegal established the tradition, well maintained 
by Frenchmen in later years, of pressing further than 
other Europeans into the interior. They did not, how- 
ever, accomplish anything which amounted to real com- 
munication with Nigritia. All that was known of the 
inland country were vague rumours of Arabs and white 
people riding upon mules and asses, and living in great 
state at Timbuctoo and the richer of its sister cities. The 
accounts of Leo Africanus and of Marmol were both, we 
must remember, published during the sixteenth century. 
Imperfect as they are, they represent a certain amount 
of information about the interior which, though it was 
not gained from the coast, must have been presumably 
in the possession of all persons interested in the coast. 
Some knowledge of the internal country was, of course, 
felt to be very desirable, but writing at the end of the 
seventeenth century, a hundred years or more after the 
appearance of the latest of these publications, Barbot 
explicitly states that " none of the Europeans living along 
the coast have ever ventured far up the land, it being 
extraordinarily difficult and dangerous, if not altogether 
impossible, for Europeans to venture so far into such 
wild and savage countries." 

The Dutch very rapidly followed in the footsteps of 
the French. The first Dutch venture was conducted by 
a man of the name of Ericks in 1595. The natives, liking 
his goods, became more and more restive under Portuguese 
exactions, and another rising in the year 1600 practically 
confined Portuguese authority within the walls of their 
forts. The native chiefs entered into treaties with the 
Dutch, and in 1624 allowed them to build forts at Moree 
and Cape Coast. This transaction was made with the 
Dutch Government, but the forts afterwards passed into 
the possession of the Dutch West India Company. The 
Portuguese bitterly accused the Dutch of obtaining their 


inrtuence over the nations "more by wine and strong 
liquors than by force of arms," and even here, on the 
West Coast of Africa, we get the echo of the reHgious 
controversies which were raging so furiously in the 
countries at that time engaged in the Thirty Years' 
War. The Portuguese had consistently sent many 
Catholic missionaries among the natives of the coast, 
and then, as now, commerce and conversion went hand 
in hand. But the blacks, we are told by Portuguese 
writers, " being a barbarous people, readily enough 
swallowed Calvin's poison spread among them, inter- 
mixed with merchandise." 

It was not long before this attitude of mutual detesta- 
tion broke out into open war, and on August 29, 1637, 
the Dutch possessed themselves of the fort of Elmina. 
From this period the Portuguese were gradually driven 
from the trade. The Dutch took Axim from them in 
1642, and by the end of the century there was only one 
Portuguese fort left upon the coast. In 1664, on the 
outbreak of the Dutch war, the English took from the 
Dutch the fort known now as Cape Coast Castle, with 
many others. But during the continuation of hostilities, 
the Dutch under De Ruyter fully revenged themselves, 
and took all the principal English stations upon the coast, 
besides recovering their own, with the single exception 
of Cape Coast Castle. The peace which shortly followed 
left the Dutch in a very strong position on the coast, 
where they erected a chain of forts, and, as was the 
uniform outcome of all operations, "used the natives with 
great severity." The influence of every European war 
was, of course, felt upon the coast. As the successes of 
the Dutch under De Ruyter threatened in 1665 to destroy 
the English settlement's, so in 1677 the French were for 
a time predominant, and captured all the more important 
Dutch settlements. Under the Treaty of Nimeguen in 
1678 these were, however, given back to Holland. 

Denmark and the Electorate of Brandenburgh, two 
small but also Protestant powers, had their share in the 


coast trade, and, making friends with the blacks at two 
or three points of the coast, built forts from which they 
traded. These were commercial settlements of no great 
importance, whose local representatives won small respect 
for themselves upon the coast, and they were at a later 
period bought out by the English. 

The rise of English trade followed close upon the 
heels of the Dutch. It may perhaps be said to have 
begun with the famous slave-raiding expeditions of 
which Hawkins relates the details without any shame, 
and of which Queen Elizabeth was not too proud to 
share the profit. 

Hakluyt, in describing the initiation of the English 
trade, shows clearly enough in what good esteem it was 
held. "Master John Hawkins," he tells us, "having 
made divers voyages to the Isles of the Canaries, and 
there by his good and upright dealing being grown in 
love and favour with the people, informed himself . . . 
that negroes were very good merchandise in Hispaniola, 
and that store of negroes might easily be had upon the 
coast of Guinea." He accordingly "resolved with him- 
self to make trial thereof, and communicated that devise 
with his worshipful friends of London, namely, with Sir 
Lionel Ducket, Sir Thomas Lodge, Mr. Gunson, his 
father-in-law, Sir William Winter, Mr. Bromfield, and 
others. All which persons liked so well of his intention 
that they became liberal contributors and adventurers in 
the action. For which purpose there were three good 
ships immediately provided." These good ships sailed 
under Hawkins' command in October of 1562, touching 
at Sierra Leone, where Hawkins " stayed some good 
time, and got into his possession, partly by the sword 
and partly by other means, to the number of 300 negroes 
at the least. With this praye he sailed over the ocean 
sea to the island of Hispaniola." His venture proved 
so profitable that, in addition to lading his own ships, 
he laded two other hulks with hides, sugars, ginger, 
pearls, and other commodities of the islands, " So with 


prosperous success, and much gayne to himself and the 
aforesaid adventurers, he came home, and arrived in the 
month of September 1563." 

The names quoted by Hakluyt are evidently names 
to be respected, yet the account given by Hawkins 
himself of his methods in a subsequent expedition of 
1567 differs in nothing from the accounts given by eye- 
witnesses of Arab slave-raids of the present day. He 
not only traded, he raided, " There came to us," he 
says, "a negro sent from a king oppressed by other 
kings, his neighbours, desiring our aide, with promise 
that as many negroes as by these warres might be 
obtained, as well of his part as of ours, should be at 
our pleasure." As a result, " I went myselfe, and with 
the helpe of the king of our side assaulted the towne 
both by land and sea, and very hardly with fire (their 
houses being covered with dry palm leaves) obtained 
the towne and put the inhabitants to flight, where we 
took 250 persons, men, women, and children ; and by 
our friend, the king of our side, there were taken 600 
prisoners, whereof we hoped to have had our choise, 
but the negro (in which nation is seldom or never 
found truth) meant nothing lesse." The negro king 
decamped in the night with his prisoners, and Hawkins 
was left with the "few which we had gotten ourselves." 
It is interesting to observe, in Hawkins' letters describ- 
ing these and other expeditions, the perfect reliance of 
the mariners upon the Almighty to be on their side, 
and to bring them out of all their dangers with "good 
store of negroes " for sale. On one occasion they were 
becalmed for eighteen days, and in great danger of death 
from starvation, having so great a company of negroes 
on board; but "Almighty God, who never suffereth His 
elect to perish," sent, we are told, a special wind to 
carry the slave-raiders safe to their destination, and 
when they reached it they obtained licence to sell their 
cargo on the ground that their vessel was "a shippe of 
the Queen's Majestie of England," and that the cargo 


"pertained to our Queen's Highnesse." Church and 
State watched over their operations, and they worked 
in an odour of the highest sanctity. 

Another famous English sailor, Drake, who as a 
young man accompanied Hawkins on one of his earlier 
expeditions to the coast, was more humane or more 
fastidious in his tastes than his great leader, for after 
one experience he never again went slave-raiding. 

Except for a patent granted in 1588 to Exeter 
merchants, the English trade was left during the reign 
of Queen Elizabeth in the hands of individuals. The 
first charter to an English company for the purpose of 
trading to the coast was granted by King James in 
1619. The charter was supposed to convey exclusive 
rights, but the private merchants who were already 
interested continued, in spite of regulations, to trade on 
their own account, and with many complaints of the 
" interlopers " who robbed them of their profits, the 
Chartered Company acknowledged its failure and with- 
drew. The Dutch West India Company, being either 
better organised or more vigorous in holding its own 
against "interlopers," from whom it also suffered, in the 
meantime pursued with success its design of supplement- 
ing the Portuguese, and became a very important power 
upon the coast. Charles I. granted a fresh charter to 
another English company. But England was shortly 
afterwards distracted with civil and foreign war, and 
this company had no better fortune. The Dutch and 
the Danes profited by the opportunity to push their 
West African trade. They not only increased the 
number of their forts and settlements, but being well 
supported by their respective Governments, and pro- 
tected by what was then the best navy in the world, 
they seized English merchant ships, and inflicted damage 
to an extent afterwards estimated at ^300,000. 

The Chartered Company being of course ruined, a 
petition was presented to Parliament shortly after the 
restoration of Charles II., which stated the condition of 


affairs. At the same time it was represented by Ministers 
to the King that his American Colonies were languish- 
ing for want of labour. The King himself, therefore, 
"for the purpose," as a contemporary account informs 
us, "of supplying those plantations with blacks," publicly 
invited subscriptions for the formation of a joint-stock 
company, of which the object was to be the recovery 
and carrying on of the trade to Africa. The new 
company was formed under the title of " the Royal 
Adventurers of England," and received a charter in 
1662. But it had no better luck than its predecessors. 
War broke out with Holland in 1664. It was during 
this war that the Dutch Admiral de Ruyter swept the 
African coast, ravaged the English settlements, destroyed 
their factories, containing goods valued at ^200,000, 
and took their ships. The fort known now as Cape 
Coast Castle, taken by the English from the Dutch, 
was alone, as has been said, successfully held, and 
remained in English hands on the conclusion of the 
peace. This was the third Chartered Company ruined 
in the West African trade. 

On the conclusion of the war. King Charles again 
invited subscriptions for the formation of a new company. 
His appeal was responded to, and in 1672 a company, 
of which the name and fame have lingered in the 
history of English trade, was formed under the title 
of "the Royal African Company." 

Where so many others had been foiled this company 
at last succeeded, and the permanent establishment of 
English influence on the West African coast was 
effected by it in the latter part of the seventeenth 
century. The new company opened and developed a 
valuable export trade of English goods to the West 
Coast of Africa. It also, according to its own statement, 
presented at a later date to Parliament, "furnished the 
new American Colonies with frequent supplies of con- 
siderable numbers of slaves at very moderate rates, 
and that in so encouraging a manner that it sometimes 


trusted the planters to the value of ^100,000 and 
upward till they could conveniently pay the same." 
Besides this three-cornered trade of goods to Africa and 
slaves to America, the company also brought home 
" ivory, red-wood, and gold dust in such quantity that it 
frequently coined 40,000 to 50,000 guineas at a time, 
with the elephant on them for a mark of distinction." 
In fine, its trade not only produced a dividend, but 
also "gave many other public and national advantages 
to the whole kingdom, and the British plantations in 

This flourishing state of things of course attracted 
"interlopers," who, without regard for the company's 
charter, carried on trade. The usual course followed. 
Protests were made on the one side against interfer- 
ence, on the other side against privilege. Every oppor- 
tunity was taken by outsiders to find fault with the 
company, and by the company to prove that, in the 
best interests of the public, they should be allowed to 
keep their monopoly. Finally, public opinion proved 
too strong, and that happened which must always happen 
to the best of chartered companies, when the field which 
it exploits is widely profitable. The general trading 
community insisted upon having its share, and in 1697 
permission was granted to the "interlopers" by vote of 
Parliament to trade to the West Coast, on payment of 
a percentage to the Royal African Company for the 
maintenance of its forts and castles for defensive pur- 
poses. One of the principal arguments used in support 
of the adoption of this policy was that the plantations 
would be supplied with slaves in greater numbers and 
at cheaper rates than could be expected from the company 

Many traders profited by this permission. The result, 
according to a somewhat rueful report of the company, 
was that the natives advanced the price of slaves and 
beat down the price of English manufactures, while the 
American planters, having to pay a higher price for 


their labour, advanced the price of sugar. The Royal 
African Company had to raise ^180,000 of fresh capital, 
and in 1707 we find the company petitioning Queen 
Anne to recommend their case to the consideration of 
the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations. 
Nevertheless trade flourished, and notwithstanding the 
strong presentation of their case by the company, and 
the many evils which unquestionably attended the throw- 
ing open of the coast, we may be permitted to doubt 
whether West African trade would to-day be valued in 
the substantial millions which its total has reached, if 
the monopoly of the Royal African Company had been 


The West African coast history of the eighteenth century 
is mainly a history of trade, and as the most profitable 
trade was done in slaves, it is hardly an over statement 
to say that it is a history of the slave trade. It may be 
remembered that one of the most valued privileges con- 
ceded to Great Britain at the Peace of Utrecht in 171 2 
was the Assiento contract, or the right to supply the 
Spanish colonies on the American coast with slaves. 
In that treaty, which may be said to have laid the 
foundation of the British Colonial Empire, other British 
colonies and settlements obtained other advantages. The 
concession of a monopoly in the Spanish slave trade 
was the special advantage pressed for by the section of 
the country which was interested in the West African 
trade, and was obtained for them by British diplomacy 
in satisfaction of what was felt to be their legitimate 
claim. Other European nations were no less active in 
the same traffic, and thus it came about that whereas 
in the interior the influence of ancient and medieval 
civilisation, operating from the north, had been an in- 
fluence tending to the development of all that is admir- 
able in the history of nations, in the south the modern 
relation of Europeans to the natives of the coast was simply 
as the relation of beasts of prey to their victims. 

The victims were generally of a very low order of 
humanity. Europe made its settlements at the extreme 
southern edge of what may be called the equatorial slums 
of Western Africa. Europeans seldom lost sight of the 
sea, and European influence scarcely extended beyond 


the forts which protected it. The nearer to the coast 
the worse was the native type. Barbot, who was of 
course himself a slave-dealer, tells his readers patheti- 
cally that " 'Tis hard to conceive what patience is 
required to deal with these brutes." They were all gross 
pagans, worshipping snakes, consecrated trees, the sea, 
and many lesser objects. This was the fetishism which 
had been driven southwards at an early period from Gao, 
Daura, Kano, and other towns in the northern territories. 
We find here also in the seventeenth century — as at the 
present day — traces of the paganism which was expelled 
by the Mohammedans from Ghana in the eleventh cen- 
tury. *' Almost every town or village has near to it a 
small consecrated g-rove to which the orovernors and 
people frequently resort to make their offerings." And 
here too we find, in the so-called monumental stones 
carved to represent half a human figure, which are re- 
vered to the present day, a reminiscence of the Teraphim 
of ancient Egypt. The people of Benin were in the 
seventeenth century "the most genteel and polite of the 
coast," Barbot gives a very interesting account of their 
capital town. But on festive occasions human sacrifices 
were made on a vast scale. 

At the back of Cape Verde, between the Senegal 
and the Gambia, the Fulani had a "little empire" 
inland, and the natives reckoned their king to be the 
"most potent prince in all those countries." It was said 
that he could put from 40,000 to 50,000 men into the 
field. The coast was, however, densely wooded, and 
swarmed with wild beasts. The character given by 
Barbot of the coast natives at this district has been 
already quoted. Sorcerers, idolaters, robbers, and 
drunkards, they were indeed "no better than their 
country." At the back of the Gambia the natives were 
" very savage, cruel, and treacherous;" they were "gross 
pagans, said to worship demons more than any other 
blacks ; " and a cannibal people, driven southwards about 
the year 1505 — which we may remember was the date 


of some of the great Askia's conquests — perpetually- 
warred upon the older inhabitants. "On the Ivory 
Coast the natives," says Barbot, "are very savage canni- 
bals who file their teeth. The place might yield a good 
trade," he adds, "but for the savagery of the natives, 
who have massacred at different times English, Dutch, 
and Portuguese." Though for the sake of the ivory all 
European nations traded at this coast, no setdements 
were made and the ships' crews "dared not land." On 
the Gold Coast, where the natives were among the most 
civilised with whom the Europeans dealt, few or none 
were to be trusted. They were gross pagans, and, like 
the people of Benin, made human sacrifices. They were 
generally " of a turbulent temper, very deceitful and crafty, 
and so continually at war with one another that this was 
the best part of all the coast for slaves as well as gold," 
the prisoners being sold immediately on their capture. 
After some of their quarrels with their neighbours a 
trader might " ship prisoners as fast as they could be 
fetched from the shore in a boat." The natives of the 
Slave Coast were the greatest and most cunning thieves 
that can be imagined, " therein far exceeding our Euro- 
pean pick-pockets, and on the least outrage received 
would poison the offender." The inhabitants of Biafra 
farther east were "very gross pagans of a wild temper," 
and made human sacrifices to the devil. Inland from 
New Calabar and the Cross River the natives were 
cannibals, and southwards from this district the country 
was inhabited by "very low class naked natives" to 
Gaboon, where the inhabitants, "very savage and animal 
in their habits," were "barbarous, wild, bloody, and 
treacherous." These were the most wretchedly poor and 
miserable of any in Guinea, They were excessively 
fond of brandy, and " married indifferently any female 
member of their family, including their mothers." 

These wretched beings were worth ^40 apiece in 
the market of Jamaica, and with the ideas that then 
prevailed it is hardly perhaps surprising that they were 


regarded as fair prey. Synods of the Churches— Pro- 
testant as well as Catholic — countenanced the trade. 
Two Synods of the Protestant Churches held in France, 
at Rouen and Alen9on in 1637, to consider a question 
raised by certain "over-scrupulous persons " who "thought 
it unlawful that many Protestant merchants who had 
lono- traded in slaves from Guinea to America should 
continue that traffic, as inconsistent with Christian 
charity," decreed after long discussion that slavery, always 
acknowledged to be of the right of nations, "is not 
condemned in the Word of God." Therefore they con- 
tented themselves with exhorting merchants who had 
liberty to trade not to abuse that liberty contrary to 
Christian charity, and not to dispose of those poor infidels 
except to such Christians as will use them with humanity, 
and above all will take care to instruct them in the 
true religion. The "inestimable advantage which the 
slaves may reap by becoming Christians and saving 
their souls," was put forward by the righteous of that 
day as one of the strongest arguments in favour of con- 
tinuing a traffic which was so profitable as to enlist very 
powerful support. 

How far this reason and the mild advice offered by 
the Synods of the Churches was likely to influence the 
Europeans of different nationalities who were locally en- 
gaged in the coast trade, may be gathered from the 
descriptions which are given by Barbot and other con- 
temporaries. The conduct of the Portuguese has already 
been described. Of the English, Barbot says that the 
trade of the Royal African Company "daily decays 
through the ill management of their servants in Guinea, 
who, to their own vices, add those of the people among 
whom they live and converse. . . . The fondness of the 
English for their beloved liquor, punch, is so great, even 
among the officers and factors, that whatever comes of 
it, there must be a bowl upon all occasions, which causes 
the death of many of them. Consequently the garrison 
(of Cape Coast Castle) becomes very weak, the survivors 


looking poor and thin, not only the soldiers, but the officers 
and factors, whose countenances are shrivelled and dis- 
mal through ill diet and worse government." The con- 
duct of all Europeans towards the black women was as 
discreditable as it was injurious to themselves. Rum 
and spirits were sold in great quantities by the English 
and Dutch. The Prussians and Danes were even fonder 
of strong liquor than the English, and their conduct 
generally was equally bad. The governors of the Danish 
stations were often men of the meanest extraction, a 
gunner from the fort being sometimes raised to that 
position. The unfaithfulness to the Danish Company 
of their servants was such that "scarce any one of in- 
tegrity " sent out from Denmark was allowed to live. 
The Dutch treated the natives with arbitrary cruelty. 
In return the blacks were often uncivil to strangers, and 
this "put Europeans upon ravaging the country, destroy- 
ing their canoes, and carrying off some of their people 
into captivity." " If," says Barbot, "the negroes be 
generally crafty and treacherous, it may well be said 
the Europeans have not dealt with them as becomes 
Christians, for it is too well known that many of the 
European nations trading amongst these people have 
very unjustly and inhumanly, without any provocation, 
stolen away from time to time abundance of the people, 
not only in this (the Sierra Leone) coast, but all over 
Guinea, and when they came on board their ships in a 
harmless and confiding manner, carried great numbers 
away to the plantations, and there sold them with the 
other slaves they had purchased for their goods. ..." 
"Certain it is," he says in another place, "that few who 
can live well at home will venture to repair to the Guinea 
Coast to mend their circumstances, unless encouraged by 
large salaries. . . . This must be said, once for all, that 
the generality of those who look for such employments 
are necessitous persons who cannot live at home, and 
are, perhaps, most of them of a temper to improve 
all opportunities of mending their worldly circumstances 



without much regard to the principles of Christianity. 
For without reflecting on particular persons, it may be 
said that what I have here asserted is sufficiently made 
out by the irregularity of their lives in those parts, and 
particularly as to lewdness and excess of drinking. It 
is almost incredible how many shorten their days by 
such debauchery." 

Ao-ents of this character were not likely to deal over 
tenderly with their human merchandise. Ships of 300 
and 400 tons burden usually took cargoes of from 500 
to 800 slaves. A ship carrying 500 slaves needed to 
take in 100,000 yams, the slaves generally sickening and 
dying upon any other food. The space which was left 
for the slaves when such provision was made for feeding 
them, and for storing a proportionate amount of water, 
was not great. Here is Bosman's description of the 
manner in which slaves were shipped at Whydah. After 
explaining that they were usually prisoners of war, he 
says : " When these slaves come to Whydah they are 
put in prison all together, and when we treat concerning 
buying them, they are all brought out together in a large 
plain, where, by our surgeons, whose province it is, they 
are thoroughly examined, and that naked, too, both men 
and women, without the least distinction or modesty. 
Those which are approved as good are set on one side. 
. . . The invalids and the maimed being thrown out, as 
I have told you, the remainder are numbered, and it is 
entered who delivered them. In the meanwhile a burning 
iron, with the arms or name of the companies, lies in the 
fire, with which ours are marked on the breast. This is 
done that we may distinguish them from the slaves of 
the English, French, or others, which are also marked 
with their mark. . . . They come on board stark naked, 
as well women as men." Bosman, proud of the superior 
organisation of the Dutch ships, which he described as 
being "for the most part clean and neat," while the ships 
of the English, French, and Portuguese are always "foul 
and stinking," explains that on these better-class Dutch 


ships the lodging-place of the slaves is divided into two 
parts, one for the women and one for the men, and that 
"here they lie as close together as it is possible for 
them to be crowded." Barbot, who traded for himself, 
chiefly in the neighbourhood of New Calabar, says nothing 
about cleanliness nor separate compartments. He tells 
us that in that neighbourhood the slaves were "a strange 
sort of brutish creatures, very weak and slothful, but 
cruel and bloody in their temper, always quarrelling, 
biting, and fighting, and sometimes choking and murder- 
ing one another without any mercy." Both traders were 
much disturbed by a widespread belief among the natives 
that "we buy them only to fatten and afterwards eat 
them as a delicacy." Barbot tells us that "natives 
infected with this belief will fall into a deep melancholy 
and despair, and refuse all sustenance, though never so 
much compelled and even beaten to oblige them to take 
some nourishment, notwithstanding all which they will 
starve to death. . . . And, though I must say I am 
naturally compassionate, yet have I been necessitated 
sometimes to cause the teeth of those wretches to be 
broken, because they would not open their mouths or 
be prevailed upon by any entreaties to feed themselves, 
and thus have forced some sustenance into their throats." 
Many of the slaves came from the back country, and had 
never even seen the sea. 

Those of us who have crossed the Bay of Biscay in 
bad weather on a return journey from the Tropics, with 
all the alleviations that can be given by swift transit, 
comfort, and warm clothing, are in a position to imagine 
what some of those naked shiploads must have suffered. 
The death-rate amounted to two, three, and even four 
hundred out of every five hundred shipped in Guinea. 
Yet so profitable was the trade that ten ships might often 
be seen loading slaves in the same port. 

The slaves being commonly prisoners of war, the trade 
had of course the indirect effect of putting a premium upon 
intertribal fighting. There was indeed scarcely a vice 


which it did not encourage alike in slaves and slavers. 
It is interesting to observe, from the records of European 
intercourse with the coast, that the evil of trading in arms 
and spirits was very early apparent to the intelligent. 
Barbot and Bosman both deplore the trade in arms, but 
the one speaking for the French and English and the 
other for the Dutch agree in regarding it as inevitable, 
"since should one nation abstain from the profit of the 
trade, other nations would only sell the more." "Abund- 
ance of firearms, gunpowder, and ball," says Barbot, "are 
sold by all the trading Europeans, and are a very profit- 
able commodity when the blacks of the coast are at war, 
yet were it to be wished they had never been carried 
thither, considering how fatal they have been and will 
still be upon occasion in the hands of the blacks to 
Europeans who, for a little gain, furnish them with knives 
to cut their own throats ; of which each nation is sensible 
enough, and yet none will forbear to carry that commodity 
which proves so dangerous in the hands of those blacks. 
The best excuse we have for this ill-practice is that if one 
does not sell the other will sell them, if the French do not 
the Dutch will, and if they should forbear it the English 
or others would do it." The idea of the delegates of 
seventeen European nations assembled for the purpose 
of agreeing to limitations to be placed upon the trade of 
their respective countries was one which had not presented 
itself to the eyes of the seventeenth century. The Inter- 
national Conferences of Berlin and Brussels belonged to 
another age. 

The effect of the slave trade upon the coast was felt 
into the far interior, and in the later records of the Haussa 
States we hear of slaves being hunted for purposes of sale 
to the black traders from the south, who in turn sold them 
to Europeans on the coast, Mungo Park's account of his 
travels in passing from the Gambia to the Niger at the 
end of the eighteenth century gives a sufficiently sorrow- 
ful picture of the condition of populations which had then 
been ground for two hundred years between the oppression 


of the European slave trade on the south and the Moorish 
conquest on the north. 

It was only very gradually that the conscience of 
humanity revolted against a means of making profit so 
opposed to every conception of freedom and justice. But 
the movements of thought of the eighteenth century, 
which emancipated Europe, had also their result upon 
the West Coast of Africa. There wanted still a few 
years to the centenary of the Treaty of Utrecht, when 
the slave trade was abolished, at least in name, in 1807. 
Tt was unfortunately far from being abolished in fact, 
and the greater part of the nineteenth century saw 
unavailing efforts made by European governments to 
put an end to the exportation of slaves from Africa 
by sea. 

The early part of the nineteenth century witnessed 
also determined efforts made by European exploration 
to penetrate the mystery of Central Africa. England took 
a brilliant part in this movement on the West Coast, and, 
in the early part of the century, the principal exploring 
parties were led by Englishmen. Mungo Park, sent out 
by the Royal Geographical Society, made his first jour- 
ney, travelling in from the Gambia, in 1 796, and struck 
the Niger at Segou. His second journey ended fatally 
at Boussa in 1805. Between 1810 and 1825 English 
expeditions made many attempts to reach the interior 
from the coast. When Rene Caillie, the French explorer, 
who eventually reached Timbuctoo in 1828, disembarked 
at St. Louis in 18 16, with the intention of penetrating, 
if possible, to the Niger, he found that "nothing was 
talked of there but the English expeditions into the 
interior." It was with the expedition of Major Grey in 
1818 that he first started for the interior. I find it stated 
in a French account that England spent upwards of 
^760,000 at this time upon exploration. 

Efforts to reach the interior were made from the north 
coast as well as from the south. Hornemann attempted 
in 18 10 to cross the continent from Tripoli to Ashantee, 


and reached the Haussa States, travelHng by the Tripoli- 
Fezzan route, but died of dysentery in Nupe. A little 
later Lyon and Ritchie went in from Tripoli, and in the 
years 1818-20 explored the Fezzan as far south as lat. 23°. 
Ritchie died at Murzuk, but Lyon brought back a good 
deal of information about the Fezzan and the country to 
the south, including Bornu and the Haussa States. Their 
work was carried further by Major Denham, Captain 
Clapperton, and Dr. Oudney, who went in together by the 
Tripoli-Fezzan road, and succeeded in the years 1822-23 
and 1824 in reaching Bornu and the Haussa States, 
travelling as far west as Sokoto, and as far south as the 
tenth parallel of latitude. The others returned safely — 
Oudney died in Bornu. Captain Clapperton, making a 
second journey by way of the West Coast in 1826, died at 
Sokoto. Major Laing, going in also from the north, 
reached Timbuctoo, and was murdered in the desert a 
little way from the town in 1828, The most famous of 
the expeditions from the north was that carried out by 
Dr. Barth and Mr. Richardson at the instance of Lord 
Palmerston between the years 1850-55, in which, though 
Mr. Richardson died, Dr. Barth was able to collect a 
mass of valuable information, afterwards published in 
five bulky volumes, which form the standard work upon 
the interior of the West African Soudan. 

It was reserved for Clapperton's faithful servant, 
Richard Landor, to navigate the Lower Niger from the 
Boussa Rapids to its mouth in 1832. From this time 
onwards, expeditions were renewed upon the coast. The 
French took an active part in exploring the territory in 
which they were politically interested, and a certain 
amount of information with regard to the interior was 

The change of civilised opinion with regard to the 
slave trade led in the meantime to corresponding changes 
in the administration of European settlements on the 
West Coast. Already in 1 783 the trading rights of 
France in the Gambia had been made the subject of 


exchange for the trading rights of England in the 
Senegal, thus preparing the way for the modern system 
of "spheres of influence." Shortly after the conclusion 
of the war with France in 18 15, the British Government 
took over from the merchant companies the various forts 
and stations established by British enterprise, and created 
a colony of " West Africa Settlements" that included the 
whole of the coast in which English trade was interested. 
This initiated the system, which, however, was not for 
some time fully carried into effect, of Crown Colonies upon 
the coast. 

In 1843 the colonies of Gambia and the Gold Coast 
were erected by letters-patent into separate colonies, 
having each their executive and judicial establishments. 
In 1850 the Danish forts on the Gold Coast were pur- 
chased by Great Britain from the King of Denmark, and 
with the forts the Danish Protectorate was transferred to 
England. In 1861 Lagos became British by cession from 
the natives. In 187 1 the Dutch finally abandoned to 
Great Britain the whole of their rights upon the coast. 
With various changes in the administration of the settle- 
ments themselves the existing colonies of Gambia, Sierra 
Leone, Gold Coast, and Lagos, came into being, and trade 
with the West Coast in more legitimate products than 
human flesh was carried on under the local protection of 
an Imperial flag. 

Unfortunately, the long-indulged taste for spirits, and 
the natural desire of the natives to possess firearms, gave 
a predominance to these two articles of European export, 
which up to the end of the nineteenth century continued 
to produce deplorable results, and to lower alike the utility 
and the value of European dealings with the coast. It 
was not until the conscience of Europe, revolting at last 
against this evil as against the slave trade, made itself 
heard in the international agreements signed at Berlin 
and Brussels in 1885 and 1890, that any determined effort 
was made to restrict by legislation the limits of this in- 
jurious traffic. The result of this movement of opinion 


may already be very plainly traced in the different char- 
acter which trade with West Africa has assumed within 
the last twenty or five-and-twenty years. In the earlier 
part of the century, when the British Government assumed 
the duty of watching over the suppression of the slave 
trade, other trade fell to an almost nominal figure. A 
return presented to the House of Commons in 1865 shows 
the total value of exports from the West African settle- 
ments to amount to ;^650,ooo, while the total value of 
imports into the settlements amounted to £5:^3,000. The 
cost of the very elementary government which was main- 
tained in the four settlements for the purpose of promoting 
this trade and suppressing the slave trade, inclusive of the 
squadron maintained in West African waters, amounted 
to a charge on the Treasury of about ^320,000. 

The later history of these colonies is sufficiently well 
known to render it unnecessary for me to deal with it 
here. I must only guard myself from seeming to attach 
to modern traders with West Africa the slur which un- 
doubtedly did attach to their predecessors of an earlier 
period. The trade of the coast of late years has 
been placed upon a much wider, and I think it may be 
said without fear of contradiction by events, an ever- 
widening basis. It is associated with some of the most 
respectable names in commerce, and under enlightened 
and beneficent direction may not improbably become one 
of the most valuable fields of British industrial develop- 
ment. Since the period of which I write, a body of 
educated coast natives has also been developed which 
would have a just right to be profoundly wounded were 
they to be confused with the cannibal savage who lives 
not far from them in the interior. In this connection, 
the names of Bishop Crowther and Dr. Blyden will 
occur to every mind, and if among the coloured officials 
and professional men of the coast colonies all have not 
attained to the same reputation, there are no doubt many 
who merit the same distinction. But these are to be 
met with only within the limits of the European settle- 


ments. What I have said in regard to the earlier trade 
is, I think, sufficient to prove the statement with which I 
set out, that if the original native of the coast is inferior 
to the native of the interior, the influence exercised by 
Europe on the coast has been very different from that 
exercised by Europe in the interior in days when black 
poets were welcomed at the court of Cordova, and the 
University of Timbuctoo exchanged knowledge with the 
universities of Spain. 

There is one other point to which I am anxious to 
draw attention. It is that, with the exception of Mr. 
Maclean's temporary extension of British influence on the 
Gold Coast as Governor for the Merchant Government, 
between 1838 and 1842, no colony up to the last decade of 
the nineteenth century extended beyond the immediate 
seaboard. From the date of the abolition of the slave 
trade the constant policy of the British Government was 
to withdraw as far as possible from any intermeddling 
with native affairs, and from any attempt to establish 
British influence, or to incur political responsibilities, upon 
the coast. It was as a matter of duty, and mainly for 
the purpose of enforcing the abolition of the over-sea 
slave trade, that Great Britain in 1808 assumed the 
government of Sierra Leone, and in 182 1, after the aboli- 
tion of the existing Chartered Company, annexed to it 
the settlements of the Gambia and the Gold Coast. 
The greatest care was taken to repudiate responsibility 
for native affairs outside the limits of the small English 
settlements. As late as 1865, it was stated before a 
Committee of the House of Commons that British ter- 
ritory on the Gambia was so small, that when the native 
tribes fought with each other, "all their bullets, without 
meaning us any harm, came into the British barracks." 
In the Gold Coast Colony, Fantees and Ashantees fought 
with each other on the sea coast, and an English victory 
obtained over them in 1827 took place, not in the interior, 
but at Accra. 

The settlement of the country and the policy of the 


Government with regard to the West Coast were fully 
expressed in the finding of a strong representative Com- 
mittee of the House of Commons which sat for several 
months in the early part of 1865, and, after a careful 
examination of witnesses and consideration of reports 
specially prepared and submitted to it by commissioners 
charged with the investigation of the affairs of the West 
African colonies on the spot, reported to the House 
certain resolutions at which it had arrived. 

In reporting these resolutions, the Committee stated 
first that the chief object of all undertakings on the 
coast, since the passing of the Act for the abolition of 
the slave trade, had been the suppression of the trade ; 
secondly, that " if the promotion first, and afterwards the 
suppression, of the slave trade had not been the ob- 
ject of British West African establishments, commercial 
enterprise would never have selected the Gold Coast 
for its locality, nor would the British probably have 
undertaken any settlement whatever in West Africa ; 
still less would the Crown have implicated itself in 
government there or in treaties of protection." The 
Committee found that the slave trade, "the suppression 
of which is now the chief object of the British establish- 
ments in West Africa, was rapidly diminishing, that the 
only demand remaining in 1865 was from Cuba, while 
there was a good hope of its speedy and total extinction. 
They also found, as regards the encouragement and 
protection of other trade, that "in the sole interests of 
trade the evidence of merchants is that it is better that 
their agents should feel the necessity of keeping on 
good terms with native powers than that they should be 
backed by English governments, or even by consuls, 
more than is necessary for a reference of disputes to 
constituted authorities." 

For these and for other reasons which are fully set 
forward in the report, the Committee submitted as a 
resolution to the House: "That all further extension 
of territory or assumption of government, or new treaties 


offering any protection to native tribes, would be in- 
expedient, and that the object of our policy should be to 
encourage in the natives the exercise of those qualities 
which may render it possible for us more and more to 
transfer to them the administration of all the governments, 
with a view to our ultimate withdrawal from all, except, 
probably, Sierra Leone." This resolution, with six others 
arrived at by the Committee, was adopted and reported 
to the House on June 26, 1865. 


The Committee of 1865 may be taken to represent the 
lowest ebb of British sentiment with regard to the West 
African colonies. The evidence which was given before 
it forms a bulky volume, and, in reading through its 
pages, there is no escape from the conclusion that the 
result of three hundred years of occupation and of trade 
with the West Coast was to leave us with no interest 
there which could appeal to the British public as justi- 
fying the expenditure of British money, and the employ- 
ment of British officials to defend. Upwards of two 
centuries had been spent in developing the West African 
slave trade, the better part of one century had been 
spent in suppressing it, and when, in 1865, it became 
possible to report that the over-sea slave trade was 
practically abolished, the only proposal that appeared 
to be warranted by the existing condition of affairs in 
West Africa was that, with the exception of a coaling 
station to be retained at Sierra Leone, Great Britain 
should abandon a position of which the advantages 
seemed to be purely nominal upon the coast. The 
principal evidence which was given before the Com- 
mittee went to show that British settlement had no 
extension, that British administration claimed no authority, 
and that British trade had no interests which the increase 
of political influence could assist. The private trade 
which remained outside the slave trade was small, and 
was reported in two out of the four settlements to be 
rapidly declining. 

But though this is the position which is emphatically 



presented by the findings of the Committee of 1865, there 
is to be traced, even in the evidence which was taken 
before the Committee, a faint indication of the coming 
change which was soon to reverse the direction of public 
opinion. In the examination of an important witness, 
Colonel Ord, the Special Commissioner employed by the 
Government to visit the four settlements and to prepare 
a report from information collected on the spot, a question 
was put as to the probable reasons for the maintenance 
by France of the large military garrisons which he 
reported as existing at Senegal and Goree. In reply, 
Colonel Ord said that the only surmise which he had 
heard expressed upon the subject was that "they" (the 
French) "desire eventually to connect their Algerian and 
their African possessions, and to become possessors of 
the whole of the north of Africa." 

Thus, in 1865, outside the circles of philanthropy and 
philosophic Radicalism which still retained a predominat- 
ing influence over British colonial policy, the first notes 
had been already sounded of that international conflict of 
diplomacy which was soon to be known under the name 
of the " Scramble for Africa." 

The Franco-German war of 1870 intervened, and de- 
layed for a few years the development of ideas which were 
already germinating in 1865, but, the war once over, its 
effect was, perhaps, rather to stimulate than to crush the 
ambitions of France and Germany to sustain their position 
as colonial powers. Among non-political influences which 
also tended to give an impetus to continental exploration, 
no single element was perhaps more potent than the 
application of steam to land and river transport. The 
development of railways, which took place during the 
middle of the century, had for the first time in history 
rendered possible the commercial exploitation of the 
centres of great continents. The discoveries of gold 
which had been made in America and Australia, and of 
diamonds and gold at a somewhat later period in South 
Africa, revolutionised trading operations and raised ex- 


pectancy to the highest point. Capital became available for 
every enterprise, and in the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century colonial apathy on the part of the western nations 
gave place to a keen competition for the acquisition of 
fields of commercial operation — which were known by the 
political name of "spheres of influence" — in hitherto un- 
developed portions of the world. 

Africa became the scene of an international race for 
territory and power. In the heart of the continent the 
Congo Free State was brought into existence by mutual 
agreement of the European Powers in 1885, and was 
placed, with what were held to be due guarantees for free- 
dom of trade, under the direction of the King of the 
Belgians. The position of England was unchallenged in 
the south. Portugal retained, and Germany made good 
claims upon the east and west coasts. England too secured 
from the east coast a position, which at a later period was 
extended to the interior, and gave her the command of the 
great waterways and the Valley of the Nile. France held 
an undisputed position of predominant influence in the 
north, as well as important centres of trade and of military 
influence on the west coast. 

That under these circumstances the directors of French 
colonial policy should have cherished the ambition ascribed 
to them of joining their possessions on the coast of the 
Mediterranean to their possessions in the west, and thus 
becoming the possessors of the whole of North-West 
Africa, was in no sense to be wondered at. The intro- 
duction of railways had abolished distance, and there was 
no apparent obstacle to obstruct the spread of French 
influence from the Mediterranean seaboard to the equator. 
A'map showing the limits of the West African colonies of 
Great Britain, which was prepared and submitted to the 
Committee of 1865, gave practically no dimensions to the 
British settlements. They are indicated simply as pink 
lines upon the sea coast, with here and there a dot, of which 
it appeared in evidence that one mile might be taken as 
the greatest extent inland. Only on the Gold Coast there 


was an indication of protected territory lying inland from 
the pink line, and there had been a public declaration of 
the intention to withdraw from that territory. In the 
interior there was therefore no bar whatever to the con- 
tinuous extension of French influence. 

When, after the conclusion of the Franco-German war, 
French policy began to declare itself in West Africa, the 
movement, co-ordinated with traditional intelligence, and 
supported by brilliant personal initiative on the part of 
individuals entrusted with its execution, would appear to 
have included a design of steady extension from the north 
towards the south, accompanied by supplementary expedi- 
tions of penetration to be directed inland from all portions 
of the western coast which were not held by any other 
foreign power. 

The English settlements of the Gambia, Sierra Leone, 
the Gold Coast, and Lagos, covered certain strips upon 
the seaboard. Between these were found points of pene- 
tration in some instances for official military expeditions, 
in others for expeditions of trade and exploration. To the 
south-east of the English colonies, and lying between them 
and the French colony of the Gaboon, there was situated 
the very important highway which British exploration of 
the early part of the century had shown to exist in the 
course of the Lower Niger. It will be remembered that 
Mungo Park lost his life at Boussa in the attempt to follow 
the course of the river from the interior in the year 1805, 
and that Clapperton's servant, Richard Landor, finally 
established the connection of the Niger with the Atlantic 
in 1832. From that date onward a certain amount of 
British trade had existed upon the river, and notwithstand- 
ing disastrous experiences of climate, the courses of the 
Lower Niger and the Benue had been explored, and a 
small trade settlement maintained at the native town of 
Lokoja at the confluence of the two rivers. 

The Niger, of which the many mouths flowed to the 
sea through a politically unprotected coast, and of which 
the upper courses in the back country of Sierra Leone 


were already the object of French exploration, was natu- 
rally selected as one of the lines to which the French 
policy of penetration was to be applied. In this instance 
the policy took a commercial form. A French company 
was started upon the lower river, and the commercial 
attack was met quite simply by British commercial oppo- 
sition. English traders had no friendly feelings towards 
foreign competition, and in mere self-defence were well 
inclined to oppose French intrusion, but in the earlier 
years of the movement there was a lack of leadership, 
and no very definite intention animated the action which 
was taken. 

As the struggle for Africa waxed hotter, and all 
parties to it became more clearly aware of the objects 
at which they were aiming, the value of the Niger as 
a commercial highway, and of the territories included 
in the watershed of the Niger and the Benu6, became 
more apparent. There was still no opposition to French 
activity in Western Africa, except that which was privately 
sustained by British trade, but the opposition took a more 
active form. The British companies trading on the river 
began to feel that it was becoming a matter of life and 
death to them to overcome the foreign competition, which 
threatened them with extinction, and under the pressure 
of their struggle for self-preservation they found a leader 
and evolved a policy which had for its result to revolu- 
tionise the entire position of Great Britain in West Africa. 

In 1879, under the inspiration of a young engineer 
officer, Mr. Taubman Goldie, whose tastes for travel had 
led him to acquire some personal knowledge of the interior 
of the Soudan, and whose interests, owing to family cir- 
cumstances, had become involved in West African enter- 
prise, the British companies trading upon the Niger were 
induced to amalgamate, and took the name of the National 
African Company. The effect of amalgamation was to 
abolish personal rivalries between them, and to enable 
them to present a united front to the advances of French 
enterprise upon the river. In the sharp round of com- 


mercial war which ensued, Mr. Goldie, afterwards Sir 
George, became the acknowledged leader on the British 
side of a movement which, under his guidance, rapidly 
assumed an overtly political character. 

It was essential to the existence of British trade that 
French competition should be driven from the native 
markets on the banks of the river ; but the immediate 
French reply to the amalgamation of the British com- 
panies was the formation on the river of another and 
more powerful French company, which was known to 
have the support and encouragement of the French 
Foreign Office. For two or three years the National 
African Company sustained the brunt of an international 
duel, of which the end was clearly seen to be the with- 
drawal of one or other of the combatants from the scene. 
The French company yielded. They were finally bought 
out by the National African Company in 1884, and the 
British representative at the conference opened in Berlin 
in that year was able to announce that no other Power 
but Great Britain owned any trading establishments on 
the Lower Niger. The result was that the conference 
adjudged to Great Britain the duty of watching over the 
application of regulations laid down for the navigation 
of the Niger, and in the same year Great Britain notified 
to the Powers her assumption of a Protectorate, under the 
name of the Oil Rivers, over that portion of the African 
coast which lay between the British colony of Lagos and 
the territory now known as the German Cameroons. 

The first round was won, but the conflict, which had 
hitherto been waged upon the coast, was now carried 
into the interior. Throughout the period of its existence 
the National African Company had found it necessary 
to secure its commercial position by the negotiation of 
treaties with native chiefs. Upon the lower river, where 
the political organisation of the natives was of a primi- 
tive character, the number of petty independent chiefs 
was very great, and the treaties negotiated by the Com- 
pany were counted by hundreds. It was known that 



in the interior chiefs of more importance commanded 
the submission of wide areas of territory, and the value 
of obtaining treaties of amity and trade with these 
potentates was obvious. But if obvious to the British 
company, it was of course equally obvious to French 
and German competitors; and from 1884 onward the 
influence of Germany, which in that year established 
itself in the Cameroon territory, to the east of the British 
Protectorate, became no less active in the back country 
than that of France. The position of the British com- 
pany, in presence of this double rivalry, is described in 
a speech made by the Governor at a much later date. 
"We knew," he said, "that the Haussa States were by 
far the most valuable region of equatorial Africa. We 
were aware that Germany was organising an expedition 
to deprive us of them, and we knew that the acquisition 
by any other European Power of political influence over 
this empire would before long entail our complete retire- 
ment from our position on the Middle Niger and the 
river Benue to the district south of Lokoja, and probably 
even to Asaba, only 150 miles from the sea." It was 
constantly pointed out by the Governor of the Company, 
in his speeches to his shareholders, that the prosperity 
and success of trading operations upon the coast de- 
pended on the maintenance of British influence, with its 
accompaniments of peace and security, in the interior. 
Animated by this view of their own higher interest, the 
Company adopted and maintained, in the first instance 
at their private cost, the policy of sending missions into 
the interior to negotiate treaties with distant Moham- 
medan states. But it had early become evident that 
British interests could not be maintained unless the com- 
mercial position of the British company were strengthened 
by some sort of political sanction. So long as their 
treaties were made only by a private company, they 
were of the nature of private and individual agreements, 
which carried no weight as against the official treaties 
of foreign Powers. 


In 1886 the political sanction, of which the need had 
made itself more urgently felt with every extension of 
competing- foreign influence towards the interior, was 
accorded by the grant of a Royal Charter, By the charter 
the Company acquired, under the new name of the Royal 
Niger Company, the international position of a recognised 
government, whose treaties with native chiefs were pro- 
tected by Great Britain, and from this date the flag 
of the Company became for international purposes the 
equivalent of the British flag. Where it flew, the authority 
of Great Britain was held to be established, and where 
the company negotiated a treaty of protection with a 
native power, such treaties were held to exclude any 
political treaties from being made in the territories of 
the same potentate by other European nations. The 
charter also conferred upon the Company the power to 
levy taxes to a limited extent for the purpose of meet- 
ing the expenses entailed upon it by its political expendi- 
ture. Chief among the items of this expenditure was the 
raising of a small native military force. 


Thus from 1886 the Royal Niger Company took the 
position, familiar in the annals of British history, of a 
commercial body endowed with political powers, extend- 
ing over a territory of which the limits were undefined, 
and in which the character, the numbers, and the history 
of the native populations were unknown. England, in 
general, knew as little of Nigeria and its possibilities at 
the end of the nineteenth century as it knew of India 
in the sixteenth century. The territories over which 
these powers were granted were at first known by the 
name of the "Territories of the Royal Niger Company." 
A little later this title was changed for the more con- 
venient name of Nigeria. 

Sir George Goldie, acting first as Vice-President and 
afterwards as President of the Chartered Company, con- 
tinued to direct a policy, in which the legitimate and 
commercial interests of the Company in the lower reaches 
of the river were safeguarded and developed by a system 
of political missions, extending inland for 500 miles, to 
the Emirates of Sokoto and Gando in the north, to 
Yola and Adamawa in the east, and finally to Borgu, 
lying in the back country of Lagos, in the west. As a 
result of these political missions, treaties were negotiated, 
and in many instances subsidies were given to native 
chiefs. The disturbed condition of the territories and 
the hostile attitude of native chiefs, combined with 
the difficulties of penetrating to the interior, through 
unknown tropical country, laid waste in many districts by 

centuries of slave-raiding and inter-tribal war, rendered 



these missions in most cases expeditions of no little 
danger, which had to be conducted at the personal risk 
of the leaders whose services were secured to command 

It was in 1884 that Mr. Joseph Thomson was com- 
missioned to negotiate the first treaty of the Company 
with Sokoto. In 1894 my husband, then Captain Lugard, 
made his first experience of West Africa by conducting 
an expedition into Borgu, and negotiated the last treaties 
of the Company upon that frontier. 

In the ten years which elapsed between these two 
expeditions, the action of the Company in the interior 
led to the further declaration of a British Protectorate 
over territories lying on the Middle Niger, and to the 
definition by successive international agreements of British 
frontiers round a territory covering an area of about 
500,000 square miles, of which a considerable part was 
situated in some of the richest, most healthy, and most 
thickly populated regions of Western Africa. 

The most important of these agreements were those 
with Germany of 1886 and 1893, ^^^ ^^^^ '^^ 1890 with 
France, to be followed a few years later by the agreement 
of 1898. 

By the German agreements the eastern frontier of the 
territory was defined from the coast to the borders of 
Lake Chad. By the first of the French agreements the 
northern frontier, separating British territory from the 
southern extension of the French hinterland of Algeria, was 
fixed at a line of some 800 miles in length, to be drawn, 
with the necessary deviations for local political boundaries, 
near to the fourteenth parallel of latitude, and continued 
from a point upon the western shore of Chad to another 
selected point upon the Niger. The points chosen were 
Barrua upon Lake Chad, and Say upon the Niger, but 
these were altered by subsequent modifications. This 
line, when the details of its delimitation are finally fixed, 
will form the northern frontier of Nigeria. It runs now 
from Ilo on the Niger, and making a curve northward 


to include the territories of Sokoto, is deflected to the 
western shore of Chad, With the frontiers fixed by 
the Anglo-German agreement of 1893 it determined in 
principle the boundaries of British territories to the 
north and east. In addition to the ao-reements refer- 
ring to these frontiers, there were some other minor 
agreements with France and Germany, by which various 
details relating chiefly to the inland development of 
other West Coast colonies were determined. 

The five years from 1893 to 1898 were marked by a 
tension on both sides of the then undetermined frontier 
on the west, which threatened at times to break out 
into open hostility. National interests, as well as per- 
sonal honour, were held by local representatives to be 
involved in the maintenance of a forward movement 
which was, perhaps, to be excused if it sometimes dis- 
regarded lines of latitude and longitude too pedantically 
laid down by the distant Foreign Offices of London, 
Paris, and Berlin. In 1893 France formally assumed 
the Protectorate of Dahomey, a native kingdom bor- 
dering upon the English colony of Lagos upon the 
coast, and carried her inland frontier to the parallel of 
9° N. latitude. Numerous French expeditions were then 
pushed into the territory extending towards the Niger, 
directly south of the point which had been chosen at 
Say for the terminus of the northern frontier line of 
British Nigeria. 

The contention of the Royal Niger Company was 
that the effect of the Anglo-French agreement of 1890, 
which drew the Say-Barrua line, was to give to France 
everything which lay north of that line, and to give to 
Great Britain everything which lay south of it, with the 
exception of the French territory of Dahomey, for which 
special arrangement had been made. Under this con- 
tention the meridian of Say became automatically the 
western frontier of British Nigeria, and gave the native 
kingdom of Borgu and part of Gurma, lying on the 
western bank of the river Niger, to Great Britain. It 


was of great importance to British trade that both banks 
of the river should be British, and the Niger Company 
had not neglected to affirm the position assigned to it 
under the agreement by negotiating treaties of commerce 
and protection with the trans-riverine potentates. French 
diplomacy denied the British contention, and French 
officers on the spot, gallantly acting upon, or exceeding, 
their instructions, endeavoured to create an aro-ument of 
the fait accompli by the negotiation of treaties with native 
chiefs, whose powers they asserted to be greater than 
those of the chiefs with whom the British treaties had 
been signed. 

The Borgu chief, with whom the Niger Company 
negotiated the principal treaty on the western side of 
the river, had his headquarters at Boussa. French 
authorities asserted that he was the vassal of another 
and more important chief, who had his residence at 
Nikki, a town lying in the back country of Dahomey, 
farther west. By the middle of 1894 it came to be 
generally understood that the possession of the provinces 
lying on the western bank of the river was to be deter- 
mined by the negotiation of a treaty with Nikki. On 
the 24th of July a strong French expedition under 
Captain Decoeur suddenly left France for Dahomey. 
Dahomey was favourably situated for penetrating into 
the territory in dispute. M. Ballot, the Governor, had 
already pushed a friendly reconnaissance to the borders 
of Borgu, only fiifty miles from Nikki. The Niger 
Company could ' not mistake the intention of Captain 
Decoeur's mission. Four days later, on July 28, Captain 
Lugard, fresh from a long struggle to assert British 
supremacy in East Africa, left London, having accepted 
a mission on behalf of the Company to reach Nikki, 
if possible, before Captain Decoeur, and to negotiate a 

Throughout the progress of these discussions, Ger- 
many, who held the territory of Togoland, adjoining 
the French colony of Dahomey upon the coast, had not 


been indifferent to the extension of its own back country, 
and the condition of affairs in Borgu was described at 
the time in the French press as a "veritable steeple- 
chase, to which France, England, and Germany are 
devoting themselves, in order to gain that part of the 
'Bend of the Niger' which impinges on the lower river." 
In this steeplechase the, till then, unknown town of Nikki 
had become the winning-post. The odds were against 
Captain Lugard. He had started later than Captain 
Decoeur. He had to go round through the Niger 
Company's territories, which involved ascending the river 
to Jebba, situated in latitude 9.10°, and marching thence 
some 200 miles westwards throuofh the unsettled terri- 
tory of Borgu, whence it was the boast of the natives 
that no white man had ever come out alive. It was 
essential also that the expedition should be proceeded 
with at once in the season of the rains, when every 
natural difficulty was increased. This is not the place 
in which to recount the adventures of the expedition. 
African experience served its leader in good stead. He 
reached Nikki with his little escort of forty men, and 
successfully negotiated the required treaty, w^hich was 
signed on November loth. Five days later, Captain 
Decoeur arrived with a force of 500 Senegalese, only 
to hear that Captain Lugard had already left the town, 
taking with him the British treaty duly signed. Other 
treaties, securing the northern territory behind Lagos, 
had been negotiated for Great Britain on the way to 
Nikki, and passing southwards, the British expedition 
on the return journey concluded treaties with the frontier 
chiefs of Northern Yoruba. The British position was thus 
secured upon the western bank of the Middle Niger. 

Captain Decoeur loyally acknowledged his defeat. It 
was not accepted in the same spirit by other represen- 
tatives of French interests, and during the two following 
years there was a further development of semi-responsible 
expeditionary activity, of which the manifest dangers 
could not be ignored. 


The hazardous nature of the position thus created 
led, in the year 1897, to a decision on the part of 
the British Government to raise a local military force, 
of which the primary duty should be the defence, under 
proper control, of the inland frontiers of the British 
settlements. It was decided to raise this regiment, which 
was to be known as the West African Frontier F"orce, 
from native Haussa material, to be officered by picked 
white officers selected from the regular army for the 
purpose. In addition to the duty of defending the 
frontier, the force was to be available for all local 
military service in West Africa, 

The duty of raising and organising this frontier force 
was entrusted to Captain, or, as he shortly became, 
Lieut.-Colonel Lugard, who was recalled from private 
work in South Africa for the purpose. Among the 
officers selected by Colonel Lugard to help him in the 
work, was Major, now Sir James Willcocks, by whom, 
as well as by other members of the first English staff, 
he was most loyally assisted. 

It was thought desirable, chiefly for military reasons, 
to fix the headquarters of the force at Jebba, a point 
upon the Niger nearly 500 miles inland. The regiment, 
of which the formation was successfully accomplished, 
under conditions not likely to be forgotten by any of 
the officers who were engaged in it, has since then 
done conspicuous honour to its founders in the Ashantee 
War of 1900, as well as in many local campaigns. Its 
strength, first fixed at two battalions of infantry, each 1 200 
strong, and three batteries of artillery, has since been 
increased by the addition of a battalion of mounted 
infantry 700 strong. 

The strained situation was fortunately not prolonged. 
In June of the following year the Anglo-French agree- 
ment of 1898, perhaps the most important of all the 
international agreements by which the position taken 
for Great Britain by the Niger Company was affirmed, 
happily brought to an end the ambiguities of the political 


situation. By this agreement, which gave to France the 
back country of the colony of Dahomey, and accepted 
a point near Ilo instead of Say as the point of separa- 
tion between French and EngHsh spheres upon the 
Middle Niger, the western frontier of Nigeria was fixed 
at its present limits. These include, on the western 
bank of the Niger, the eastern half of Borgu, and carry 
the British frontier from the junction between Lagos 
and Dahomey to join the northern line at its terminus 
upon the Middle Niger. 

The formation of a new military force at public 
expense, designed chiefly for local service in the interior, 
was not only an indication of the very remarkable 
change in public opinion, which, contemporaneously with 
the movements in Nigeria, operated to bring about a 
gradual enlargement and expansion towards the interior 
of the territories of the other West Coast colonies ; it 
also indicated approaching change in the government 
of the territories of the Niger Company. 

During the whole of the period which elapsed 
between the grant of the charter of the Royal Niger 
Company and the formation of the West African 
Frontier Force, the Company had carried on the fight 
for British extension in the interior on the gallant but 
unequal terms of a private corporation contending with 
two foreign Governments. In the events which pre- 
ceded the agreement of 1898, when officially organised 
French expeditions were directed against the territories 
secured by treaty to the Company, and a French gun- 
boat did not scruple, in the excitement of local rivalry, 
to enter the waters of the river which were open by 
international agreement to merchant vessels alone, it 
became evident that a stage had been reached in which 
the adventurous energy of a trading company, however 
well directed, could no longer suffice for the efficient 
protection and necessary development of the territories 
which had been brought under British rule. 

Obviously it was undesirable that territories, of which 


the defence was provided at public expense, should be 
administered at private discretion. The Company had 
not, of course, attained the accomplishment of its ambi- 
tions without exciting many jealousies, and giving rise 
to widespread criticism at home and abroad. By foreign 
Powers its too successful methods were made the object 
of vituperative campaigns in the press, and of more dis- 
creet but not less urgent diplomatic remonstrance in the 
Cabinet. At home complaints were frequent that the 
concentration of administrative and commercial powers in 
the same hands gave advantages to the Niger Company 
over its commercial rivals which amounted to a virtual 
monopoly of trade which was nominally free. An internal 
campaign against the Mohammedan chiefs of Nupe and 
Ilorin, which was forced upon the Company in the 
opening months of 1897, successfully executed as it 
was, had also served to give some indication in respon- 
sible quarters of the probable development of adminis- 
trative difficulties on an increasing scale, as soon as 
any serious attempt should be made to establish white 
authority, for practical purposes, over vast territories 
where the thorny questions which mark the difference 
between civilised and semi-civilised administration were 
as yet untouched. 

For these and other reasons it was recognised that 
the pioneer work of acquisition had been accomplished, 
and that the time had come, more swiftly than in the 
case of other great British companies, on whose prece- 
dent the Niger Company had been founded, to abolish 
a charter which had served its purpose, and to incor- 
porate the territories acquired by the Company with the 
other colonies and dependencies of the Empire. The 
charter of the Company was surrendered to the Crown. 
Its territories were divided : the lower reaches of the 
river south of Ida being included, under the name of 
Southern Nigeria, with the Protectorate of the Oil Rivers, 
extending from the colony of Lagos to the German 
frontier ; while the interior cut off from the sea was 


erected, under the name of Northern Nigeria, into a 
separate Protectorate. The transfer of authority from 
the Company to the Imperial Government took place 
on Januar}' ist, 1900. on which day Colonel Lugard 
assumed office as the first High Commissioner of 
Northern Nigeria. 

In summing up the service rendered to the Empire 
by the Company, it will hardly be disputed that by the 
ability, the foresight, and the activity of a single man, 
who in the first instance united, and subsequently for 
twenty years directed with laborious care, the principal 
British interests upon the Niger, a territory- was added 
to the British Empire, and a field secured for all time 
to British trade, which, without his personal exertions, 
would assuredly have passed into the possession of 
France and Germany. In the execution of his work 
Sir George Goldie was very loyally supported by the 
shareholders of the Royal Niger Company ; but it was 
by his personal qualities that he won and retained the 
confidence of those whose interests he took into his 
charge, and it was by his personal perception of the 
opportunities inherent to the situation that he was able 
to use the force acquired by that confidence for great 
purposes of public utility. 

The commercial success of the Company is some- 
times quoted in disparagement of the merit of its public 
service ; but that its Governor was able, without injustice 
to private interests, to carry out the important scheme 
of policy in which they were involved, gave, in fact, a 
substantial value to his work, which no mere reckless- 
ness of political annexation, however generous, would 
have possessed. When the relative positions of France 
and England were finally adjusted in 189S, British in- 
terests had been created in the interior, which it was 
impossible for either government to ignore. The 
enlightened view that the prosperity of coast trade 
depended on the extension of civilised relations to the 
interior, which led to the expansion of the sphere of 


operations of the Niger Company, has been illustrated, 
not only by the commercial success of that Company, 
but by the remarkable development in the prosperity 
of all the coast colonies which has followed upon the 
extension of their protected areas towards the interior, 
and the greater security which the establishment of 
British administration has carried with it. 

In acting as the pioneer of this policy for Great 
Britain, Sir George Goldie was in part the originator, 
in part the interpreter, of the great change which had 
come over modern sentiment. He was not alone in 
desiring to reverse the policy of abandonment dictated 
by a sentiment of distaste and discouragement, which 
amounted almost to public remorse. Other nations, as 
we have seen, were quicker than Great Britain to per- 
ceive that the true solution of the problem of European 
relations with uncivilised Africa lay in accepting, not 
in abandoning, the responsibilities of civilised adminis- 
tration. Many influences were at work to foster and 
to direct the forward movement, which, not in West 
Africa alone, but on every frontier of the Empire, took 
the place, during the last quarter of the nineteenth 
century, of the concentrating and restrictive tendencies 
of an earlier period. What Sir George Goldie did 
was that which has been done by all original and 
successful workers. He gave personality to a great 
idea, and by the exercise of qualities which belonged 
to himself alone he was able to bring his interpreta- 
tion of the idea to a distinguished practical success. 
In doing so he added to the Empire a territory of 
which the area is no less than half the size of British 
India, and for this service his name will deservedly 
be ranked among the unforgotten names of English 



It was a necessity of commercial success, and there- 
fore of existence to the Company, that the greater part 
of its practical work should be done upon the lower 
reaches of the river. The waterways of this part of 
Africa, as they approach the coast, pass through a 
forest belt rich in valuable forms of sylvan produce. 
Palm oil and palm kernels, which form one of the most 
important staples of West African trade, are obtained 
in such quantities from the palm trees of this belt that 
the strip of coast through which the rivers of the dis- 
trict flow to the sea was for a long time known by 
the name of the "Oil Rivers" Protectorate. Little 
industry or ingenuity is required on the part of the 
natives in order to collect the wild products of the 
forest, which they are willing to exchange for European 
goods, and the mere numbers of the population, in con- 
junction with the fertility of the soil, constitute the ele- 
ments of a valuable export trade. The primitive nature 
of the needs of the natives unfortunately gave to the 
return trade from Europe the low character which it 
has always borne. 

The Niger Company was so situated as to have no 
coast area beyond the main mouth of the Niger, and 
a small portion of the delta which attached to it. Its 
sphere of commercial activity lay in the valley of the 
river. Here, for upwards of 150 miles, the banks on 
both sides served as frontage to numerous tribes whose 

back country extended into the network of lesser water- 



ways which irrigate the forest area of the coast. It 
was with these tribes that the main trade of the Com- 
pany was done, and for the protection of this trade 
that its treaties were in the first instance negotiated. 

Coincidently with the growth of trade it was found 
necessary to establish some form of political control, 
and as the operations of Mohammedan slave-raiders 
from the north, year by year, extended the circle of 
their devastation, and destroyed flourishing markets by 
the wholesale depopulation of areas in which they 
were situated, the further necessity was forced upon the 
Company of giving some form of military protection 
to threatened districts. For this purpose a constabu- 
lary was formed, and military outposts were advanced to 
Lokoja, at the confluence of the Niger and the Benue. 
Trading stations under the protection of Lokoja were sub- 
sequently established upon the Lower Benu6 and upon 
the Niger between the Boussa Rapids and Lokoja. 

The ninth parallel of latitude may be taken as the 
farthest northerly extension reached by the outposts of 
the Company, and the Company's stations upon the 
rivers east and west from the confluence marked the 
meeting ground of the pagan states they desired to 
protect, and the militant Mohammedan civilisation of 
the north. 

The great difference which existed between this 
civilisation and the primitive condition of the peoples of 
the lower river will have been gathered from what has 
been already written in the earlier sections of this book. 
The difference from the point of view of European trade 
was no less marked than from the more general point of 
view of political history. The Governors of the Company 
had always expressed the opinion that ultimately their 
most valuable trade would be done with the northern 
territories. In a speech made by the Governor at the 
annual meeting of 1889 he informed the shareholders 
that, after long and persistent research, palm oil and 
kernels appeared to form the only considerable resources 


of the maritime districts, and that the Directors felt 
that the "ultimate and permanent prosperity of the 
territories must depend still more on a widely spread 
and properly directed culture of indigo, tobacco, cotton, 
and other products," which were grown in the interior. 
The trade with the south was prosperous ; but, while the 
Company did its principal work on the coast, it looked 
forward to opening the northern territories. 

"We can hardly impress too strongly on our share- 
holders," the Governor said in the same speech of 1889, 
" the fact that our hopes of future prosperity rest far 
less on the lower regions of the Niger . . . than upon the 
higher and inner and recently explored regions acquired 
at great expense of money and of energy." Throughout 
the political life of the Company this view was constantly 
impressed upon the shareholders, and at a very early 
period the Company marked, in a manner which did 
credit alike to its foresight and its enlightenment, its 
perception of the difference between the two divisions of 
its territories. The consumption of liquor by the pagan 
natives of the coast has been, through the whole period 
of European intercourse with them, a hardly less prolific 
source of demoralisation than the slave trade itself. In 
the lower river the Company yielded to circumstances, 
and cheap European spirits formed one of the principal 
articles of importation for purposes of the barter trade. 
But among the Mohammedan peoples of the north 
the use of alcoholic liquor is forbidden by their religion, 
and in 1887, before prohibition within certain latitudes 
became general under the rules agreed to by the Brussels 
Conference, the Niger Company, desirous of defending 
the markets of the interior from the invasion of this 
curse, fixed a line at the back of its coast territories 
beyond which it absolutely forbade the importation of 

But though the trade of the northern territories was 
regarded from the beginning as likely to prove beyond 
all comparison more valuable than that of the lower 


river, it was, from artificial as well as from natural 
causes, more difficult to attract into British channels, it 
was, of course, of a very different order from that of 
the south. Indigo, cotton, and tobacco, as well as other 
exports of the northern territories, are products of 
organised industry which, unlike the native products of 
the palm - oil belt, demand the employment of regular 
labour. Conditions of peace and security are as necessary 
for their production as for the development of sustained 
trade relations. The slave- raiding operations of the 
Mohammedan rulers were undertaken for the purpose 
of obtaining labour. But, while the industrial system 
was based on slavery, the ceaseless disturbance to which 
slave-raiding gave rise, coupled with political conditions 
of civil war and the exactions of a practically uncurbed 
foreign tyranny, of which some account has yet to be 
given, operated to prevent the prosperous development 
of all industry. In addition to these disturbed conditions, 
there was also, in the Mohammedan states, long-estab- 
lished tradition to contend with. If the wants of the 
people were more elaborate than those of the southern 
population, they had better means of satisfying them. 
What trade there was was done either locally, between 
state and state, or across the desert, by the old routes, 
with the north of Africa. Tea and sugar, commonly 
sold in the market of Kano, were brought with other 
commodities by Arab caravans from the Mediterranean 

This was also the case with many other necessities 
of life. Beyond the valley of the Niger and the Benue 
no administrative influence had been exercised by the 
Company. Its intercourse with the Mohammedan emirs 
had been confined to political missions, of which the 
direct object was to obtain promises of future trade and 
to exclude antagonistic foreign influence from their 
territories. By these treaties prospective markets were 
secured, but the condition of the country was such that 
trade was not open to the north. 

2 A 


Under the division which was made of the Company's 
territories on the surrender of the charter, the principal 
centres of its commercial and administrative activity 
passed, with the river valley south of Ida, to Southern 
Nigeria. In Northern Nigeria its occupation was repre- 
sented only by the outposts which have been named 
upon the river, and by an agency established in Ilorin. 

In 1897, practically, though not actually, the last 
year of the Company's administration, a campaign against 
the Mohammedan state of Nupe, which at that time held 
both banks of the Niger above Lokoja, was forced upon 
the Company by the persistent slave-raiding of the 
Mohammedans in trade areas farther south. 

The campaign gave occasion for the most careful 
organisation of the military forces of the Company. It 
was recognised as involving perhaps the existence of 
British authority in the country. An additional number 
of officers from the regular army were lent specially to 
the Company by the War Office, and the campaign was 
conducted at very considerable expense upon the lines 
of European war. The military operations were directed 
against Bida, the capital of Nupe, situated on the 
northern side of the river, and were completely successful 
in their immediate results. The town was captured, 
the emir was deposed, a portion of his territory which 
lay upon the southern bank of the river was declared 
independent of the suzerainty of Nupe, and a new emir 
was placed upon the throne. 

But in accentuating, by the precautions which it 
rendered necessary, the difference between Mohammedan 
civilisation to the north of the confluence and pagan 
barbarism to the south, this war gave, as has been 
already said, a very serious indication of the enlargement 
of the proportions which the problem of British occupation 
was likely to assume when any attempt should be made 
to establish white authority in the Northern Territories. 
The Company did not feel itself to be in a position 
to make a permanent occupation of Bida. As soon as 


its troops were withdrawn the deposed emir raUied his 
defeated followers, assumed again the supreme authority 
of which he had been deprived, and maintained his 
province in a state of revolt against British authority 
north of the river. It became clear that conquest without 
occupation, or the establishment of some form of British 
authority in the conquered provinces, would result only 
in the creation of a line of impenetrably hostile border 
states, with which neither trade nor any peaceful relations 
could be maintained. 

Troubles on the western border, resulting in the 
agreement of 1898, and the consequent surrender of the 
charter, gave the Company no opportunity of dealing with 
the situation which was thus created. The authority 
which had been successfully asserted over the pagan 
tribes of the lower river, and which had not shrunk from 
the first shock of conflict with the forces of Mohammedanism, 
was withdrawn at this critical and interesting moment. 

Thus it came about that when British administration 
was officially established in the interior, it found itself 
limited in fact to territory of which the northern line was 
fixed by the Company's stations upon the river, and to 
the western province of Borgu, which, subsequently to 
the formation of the West African Frontier Force, had 
been organised as a military province outside the territories 
of the company. 

The duty which lay before the first British High 
Commissioner was to organise the territorities of Northern 
Nigeria for administration. The whole of these terri- 
tories had placed themselves nominally under the pro- 
tection of Great Britain. They extended roughly, as 
will be remembered, from 7° to 14° north latitude, and, 
including Borgu, from 3° to 14° east longitude. They 
covered an area of 350,000 square miles, or about one- 
third of the size of British India, and they lay almost 
wholly in the area occupied by those finer races of the 
Soudan whose touch with civilisation had from time 
immemorial been from the north. Never before in the 


history of this part of the Soudan had any civilising 
influence come from the south. 

Two new and interesting chapters of history were 
therefore initiated on the same day. For the first time 
in the history of the Mohammedan states a superior and 
civilising influence was established in an administrative 
capacity upon their southern borders, and by its mere 
presence began the process of drawing as a magnet 
towards the south all the thoughts, the activities, the 
fears and hopes, which the tradition of intelligence had 
directed, through their entire previous existence, towards 
the north. 

On the other hand, for the first time in British history 
colonial government was established in the interior of 
West Africa. In determining to extend our influence to 
the relatively healthy uplands bordering upon the desert, 
to enter into friendly relations with the fine races which 
inhabit them, and to open new fields to commercial enter- 
prise in regions famous through all antiquity for their 
wealth, a wholly new departure was made from the 
traditions which had limited us for three hundred years 
to a coast occupation of the malarial regions fringing the 
Gulf of Guinea, and had confined our relations to the 
type of negro who inhabits its shores. The history of 
British West Africa entered upon a new phase, and if, 
as we may venture to hope, British influence upon the 
races of the interior may be of such a nature as to 
revive in them the old traditions associated with the 
civilisation of Europe in their best days, the influence 
of the Mohammedan races upon British West African 
policy may be not less important. They offer us a field 
for the foundation of a West African Empire, of which 
neither they nor we need be ashamed. 


Before attempting to give any account of the establish- 
ment of British administration in Northern Nigeria, there 
is still a chapter of native history to be told. 

We left the Mohammedan states of the Soudan in 
the seventeenth century, when after the conquest of the 
Moors they became isolated in the heart of Africa, and 
fell into the decadence in which we know them. The 
Tarikh-es-Soudan, of which the chronicle continued to the 
middle of the seventeenth century, informs us that after 
the Moors of the Soudan had cut themselves off from 
Morocco, the government of the Pashas rapidly de- 
generated. In 1623 it is stated that "excesses of every 
kind are now committed unchecked by the soldiery, and 
that the country is profoundly convulsed and oppressed." 
About the middle of the eighteenth century the Tuaregs, 
pressing down from the desert upon the Moors, deprived 
them of the principal towns of Songhay, and established 
a kingdom of their own upon the Niger. What the 
Moors had become at the end of the eighteenth century, 
some thirty years after they had been driven from Gago 
and Timbuctoo, may be gathered from Mungo Park, who 
had experience of them in his journey from the coast to 
the Niger in 1795. 

The Moors, he says, are divided into many tribes, 
each more entirely barbarous and cruel than the other. 
Each tribe is governed by a separate king, who owns no 
allegiance to a common sovereign. They pay but little 
attention to agriculture, purchasing their corn, cotton 
cloth, and other necessaries from the negroes in exchange 


for salt, which they dig from the pits in the great desert. 
Describing them as a whole, "They are," he says, "at 
once the vainest, the proudest, and perhaps the most 
bigoted, ferocious, and intolerant of all the nations of the 
earth." They had a very primitive system of justice 
and taxation, but they had "neither dignity nor order." 
They lived in a condition of constantly plundering the 
negroes around them, and, like the nomad Berbers, they 
frequently roamed from place to place. 

But the Moors did not fall from their high position 
in the Soudan without the interposition of another 
power. This time the dominating people, although not 
black, were, like the conquering races of Melle and of 
Songhay, of local origin. As the Moors declined, the 

Fulani rose. 

This remarkable people, of whom mention is made in 
the earliest records which have been preserved of the 
history of the Soudan, have given rise to much learned 
controversy in the endeavours to determine to what 
branch of the human race they properly belong. 

In the sixteenth century of our era, they may fairly 
be spoken of as being of local origin in the Soudan. 
At that time they knew of no other home, and there 
was record of their presence in the country for upwards 
of looo years. But they were of a race wholly different 
from that of the other races of the Soudan. Though 
profoundly modified by intermarriage, they counted them- 
selves as a white people, and even when the mixed 
blood gave to their skin the prevailing colour of black 
or red, their features, their hair, their carriage, and their 
distinctive characteristics, proclaimed them of other than 
negro race. 

The variations in their appearance are at the present 
day so marked — ranging from the jet black of the Joloffs 
of the western coast through "tawny," "white," and 
even " Syrian red " skins, to the blue-eyed individuals 
mentioned by Baikie as having been met by him upon 
the Benue — as to present arguments in support of the 


most opposite theories regarding the birthplace of their 

We have already seen in the Tarikh-es-Soudan a 
description of the black Joloffs, which counted this people 
among the "best of men," and very superior to "all 
other Fulani." Marmol, in describing a chief of this 
race M^ho visited Portugal at the end of the fifteenth 
century, tells us, it will be remembered, that he had a 
fine figure and was generally well made, also that he 
had a long and well-trimmed beard, and "did not 
appear to be a negro, but a prince to whom all honour 
and respect were due." In Mungo Park's day the 
distinction of the Tarikh between the Joloffs and "the 
other Fulani" had grown into a permanent distinction 
of race, and Mungo Park speaks of them as two 
peoples. He says, however, of the Joloffs, whom he 
praises as an active, powerful, and warlike race, that 
"their noses are not so much depressed nor the lips so 
protuberant as among the generality of Africans, although 
their skin is of the deepest black." In the case of this 
people, intermarriage upon the coast with purely negroid 
types had no doubt brought them to a near resemblance 
with negro peoples, but the Foulah strain was still of 
effect enough to make of them a people who were highly 
thought of by the white traders of the coast. 

The Foulahs proper, whom Mungo Park distinguishes 
from the Joloffs, are, he says, "chiefly of a tawny com- 
plexion, with soft, silky hair and pleasing features." These 
Foulahs, like others scattered through the entire length 
of the fertile belt, were " much attached to a pastoral 
life," and had, he tells us, by the end of the eighteenth 
century " introduced themselves into all the kingdoms 
on the windward coast as herdsmen and husbandmen, 
paying a tribute to the sovereign of the country for the 
lands which they held." The same pastoral Fulani 
migrated, as we have seen, in the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries to the Haussa States and Bornu, and paid 
tribute to the reienine kinofs of Kano and other towns. 


They are known to this day in Northern Nigeria under 
the name of Cow Fulani. Mungo Park also says of the 
Foulahs, "They are naturally mild and gentle. . . . They 
evidently consider all the negro nations as their inferiors, 
and when talking of different nations always rank them- 
selves among white peoples. . . . They are Mussulmans, 
and the authority and laws of the prophet are everywhere 
looked upon as sacred and decisive." He tells us that, 
in his day, they possessed in the Soudan many kingdoms 
at great distances from each other, and he notices the 
diversity of their appearance. "Their complexion, how- 
ever, is not quite the same in the different districts. In 
kingdoms which are situated in the vicinity of the Moorish 
territories (meaning to the north), they are of a more 
yellow complexion than in the southern states." He 
mentions the fact that they have a separate language, 
and gives specimens of its vocabulary. Francis Moore, 
speaking of the Fulani of the Gambia in 1734, gives them 
much the same character as that given them by Mungo 
Park. "They have chiefs of their own," he says, "who 
rule with so much moderation, that every act of govern- 
ment seems rather an act of the people than of one man." 
He also speaks of their charitable and humane qualities. 
Dr. Blyden, writing of them in the present day, tells us 
that every man and woman among them can at least 
read Arabic. 

Denham, writing a little later than Mungo Park, gives 
us a description of another class of Foulah or Fulani 
as he met them on the shores of Lake Chad. " They 
are," he says, " a very handsome race of people, of a 
deep copper colour, who seldom mix their blood with 
that of the negroes, have a peculiar language of their 
own, and are Moslem." These were the conquerors of 
Bornu, aristocrats and military rulers. He says of them 
in another place that they resembled the inhabitants of 
Tetuan in Morocco. He also finds in them a resemblance 
to the gypsies in England. But a Foulah whom he met 
in one of the border towns of Bornu told him, he says, 


that he had been to Mecca, and that there he had met 
Wahabis, who " were the same people and spoke the 
same language as the Fulani." 

Barth speaks of the Fulani as a race distinguished 
by its absorbent powers, and now comprising many other 
races, of which there are four main divisions. He gives 
the names as the "Jel," the "Baa," the "So," and the 
" Beri," but these again are subdivided. Both Barth 
and Denham speak of the great capacity of the aristocratic 
Fulani for ruling other races. Denham says of them 
on the western border of Bornu, " They are here much 
esteemed by the people whom they rule for their im- 
partial administration of justice." In all this, we are 
reminded of Bacon's axiom, that " States that are liberal 
of naturalisation towards strangers are fit for empire." 
Throughout the entire history of the Soudan, members 
of the Fulani race are to be found in positions of 
importance and responsibility. There were in every 
successive civilisation Fulani judges, Fulani imaums of 
the mosques, Fulani men of letters, Fulani advisers to 
the kings, and frequent mention is made of the Fulani 
wives of persons in high position. This influence was 
not confined exclusively to the Soudan. It spread even 
to Morocco. More than one Moorish sovereign had a 
Fulani counsellor, and it is mentioned that Muley Hamed, 
the reigning sovereign of Morocco, at the moment of 
the Moorish conquest had a favourite Fulani wife, Leila 
Aouada by name. 

It is not surprising that a race of such varying 
activities, lending itself to such different developments, 
should give rise to widely-varying scientific theories of 
its origin. 

The one point upon which all scientific investigation 
is agreed is that the language of the Fulani is not 
African, and that this people, which has maintained in 
the Soudan an individuality no less marked and persistent 
than that maintained by the Jews in Europe, was originally 
wholly foreign to the environment in which we find it. 


Its first home in Africa would seem to have been the 
south-western corner between the Senegal and the 
Atlantic, in which, according to Herodotus and Strabo, 
the Phoenicians made their early settlements. As this 
was the remotest extremity of the western world known 
to the ancients, it follows as a matter of course that the 
original home of the Fulani is supposed to have been 
further east. It is indeed a disputed point whether their 
first movements in Africa were from west to east, or 
gradually in the first instance from east to west, and 
only later, within our own times, from west to east. One 
theory of their origin is that they are of the same 
Malayan or Polynesian stock as that which is believed to 
have colonised Madagascar. Another is that they came 
originally from Egypt, and this involves the assumption 
that their movement in Africa was a gradual advance from 
east to west. This theory would seem to be disproved 
by the fact that their language has no affinity to the 
languages of the Nile. It has also been sought to asso- 
ciate them with the Jews, but it has been shown that their 
language is still further removed from languages of 
Semitic origin than it is from the idiom of the Soudan. I 
do not know whether this objection would apply to the 
language of the Phoenicians, nor have I anywhere seen 
the theory of Phoenician descent scientifically examined. 
The theory which seems to be most generally received 
and most logically supported is that the fount of origin 
of the Fulani people must be sought in India. This is the 
opinion of M. de Lauture, who relates the legend of their 
origin, as he learned it in Darfur, to be that they sprang 
from the marriage of a Hindu, who entered the Soudan 
by way of Egypt, with the female of a chameleon. He 
takes the legend to mean that the Fulani were the out- 
come of a union of Hindu stock with different tribes of the 
Soudan, in this way accounting for the great diversity of 
their characteristics. 

Dr. Thaly supports the Indian theory. He connects 
the F^ulani with the gypsies of Europe, and traces both 


gypsies and Fulani to an Indian origin. There are 
legends quoted by Barth and by M. Berenger Feraud 
to the effect that the Fulani entered the Soudan originally 
by way of Morocco, and these, though offered in opposition 
to the Indian theory, might, with very little straining, be 
made to support it, for Strabo, after describing a populous 
and flourishing African nation dwelling to the far west 
of Africa in the country opposite to Spain, adds the 
remark, "Some say that they are Indians who accom- 
panied Hercules hither." The legend of Strabo, added 
to those quoted by modern writers, might therefore account 
for an Indian origin, even in Fulani who had entered the 
Soudan by way of Southern Morocco. It has also been 
sought to connect the Fulani with the Berbers, but this 
theory is rejected by philologists. It will, however, be 
remembered that among the nomad tribes of the desert, 
mentioned in an earlier chapter, allusion was made to one 
tribe not to be confused with those of Berber race. These 
were the Zingari or gypsies, who were believed to be of 
Indian descent. In assuming a Berber origin for the 
Fulani, it is again not improbable that the opponents of 
the Indian theory may unconsciously be supporting it by 
a confusion between one nomadic race of the desert and 

That the Fulani may have owed their origin to the 
downfall of the dynasty of the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, 
who were driven from Egypt about the year 1630 B.C., 
is finally a theory which would seem to reconcile many 
conflicting arguments. M. Delafosse, whose studies in 
West African languages give special weight to his opinions, 
and who is one of the latest writers upon the subject, is 
inclined to espouse this view. He thus countenances the 
opinion of those who contend that the Fulani entered 
the Soudan by way of Egypt, but at the same time he 
emphatically rejects the theory of Egyptian origin, and 
carries the question of origin one step further back to 
that of the origin and race of the Hyksos themselves. 
This he would find in India, "probably on the southern 


slopes of the Himalayan Mountains." He puts forward 
as a suggestion that the same migrations of Hindu origin 
may have given us the Hyksos and the gypsies and the 
Fulani. He does not regard the question as having been 
yet decisively examined, and he appeals to anthropologists 
and philologists to assist in its scientific elucidation by 
comparison between the racial characteristics and the 
dialects of the Fulani, the gypsies, and certain existing 
pastoral tribes in India. As a result of some slight study 
of his own of gypsy language he adds, " I think I may 
say that of all African, Asiatic, Oceanian, and European 
tongues which I have compared with the language of the 
Fulani, the language of the gypsies is that which appears 
to me to possess the greatest point of resemblance." 

In connection with the theory of the descent of the 
Fulani from the Hyksos, I would quote the great similarity 
observed by my husband to exist between the Wahuma of 
Eastern Africa and the Fulani of the Western Soudan. 
The Wahuma, like the Fulani, were pastoral nomads 
who, in the endeavour to secure fresh grazing ground, 
became invaders and conquerors. In Uganda, Unyoro, 
Karagwe, and other eastern states the Wahuma founded 
the royal dynasties, while their tribesmen, corresponding 
in position to the Cow Fulani, tended the cattle of the 
negroids. The Wahuma, who have a great physical 
likeness to the Fulani, are often strikingly handsome and 
extremely intelligent. That the Wahuma should have 
descended upon East Africa from the valley of the Nile 
is not surprising. Of both races, Fulani and Wahuma 
alike, it can at least be said that they so far support the 
theory of a common origin in the Hyksos, as to have 
maintained through all their history, in the diverse 
countries in which they are to be found, the ancient 
position of Shepherd Kings. 



Assuming the Fulani and the gypsy to be of similar 
Indian race and to have entered the Soudan by way of 
Egypt, perhaps nearly two thousand years before Christ, 
we have still the fact that within historic times the move- 
ment of the Fulani in the Western Soudan has been from 
west to east, not from east to west. 

The earliest definite mention which we get of them 
is the rumour mentioned by the author of the Tarikh-es- 
Soudan, that the first white king of Ghana, who reigned 
presumably in the third century of the Christian era, 
was reputed to have had a Fulani name — Quaia Magha, 
which in Fulani means Ouaia the Great. Whether 
Phoenician or Fulani, the first white rulers of Ghana 
continued to reign for twenty-two generations, and were 
then superseded by a black dynasty. 

In the ninth century we hear of Fulani occupying the 
town of Masina, situated on the Niger between Jenne 
and Timbuctoo, and the following story is told of the 
origin of their kings. 

Maghan, a fugitive prince from his own country of 
Koma, in the territory of Quaiaka, came driving a few 
oxen before him to a hill called Masina, in the territory 
of Baghena. He and his followers made friends with 
the Senajah (Berbers), who occupied the territory, and 
after a time, Maghan having been joined by more followers, 
the King of Baghena named him king of those who had 
followed him. All the Fulani then joined themselves 
to Maghan, some being of his own tribe and some of 

Sankora. From this time (to which no date is affixed). 



Masina drew its kings from four tribes, of which one 
inhabited Quaiaka and one Borgu. We are also told 
that, by an agreement between themselves, the people 
of Masina had for their kings alternately a Berber and 
a Fulani. Presumably, therefore, the tribes of Quaiaka 
and Borgu were Fulani, and the other two of the four 
were Berbers. This arrangement, mentioned at so early 
a period, is illustrative of the adaptable nature of Fulani 

Masina was independent enough at the end of the 
ninth century to solicit help from the Berber kings of 
the Desert Empire against black neighbours who pressed 
upon it inconveniently, and to carry through a victorious 
campaign. It held its own against Ghana in the great 
days of that pagan empire, and maintained itself as a 
centre of P'ulani rule through the administrations alike 
of Melle and of Songhay. 

It is in the early period of the rise of Melle — that is, 
in the thirteenth century — that we have the first record 
of Fulani immigration from Melle into the Haussa States 
and Bornu. From this we may infer a certain pressure 
by the rising power upon the Fulani of the west, but 
those who migrated to Haussaland at this period were 
apparently purely pastoral nomads, who took their place 
humbly in their new home as Cow Fulani, and were 
content to pay tax to the local kings. During the mili- 
tary campaigns which preceded the rise of the Songhay 
dynasty in the fifteenth century, we hear constantly of 
expeditions undertaken against the Fulani, who would 
seem to have resisted stoutly all encroachments upon 
their liberty. Sonni Ali in 1492 conquered the Fulani 
of Gurma in the eastern portion of the Bend of the Niger. 
Sonni Ali also apparently conquered Masina so far as 
to induce it to pay tribute and to accept the investiture 
of its rulers from the hands of Timbuctoo, but it jealously 
guarded its administrative independence, and throughout 
the records of the Songhay dynasty wars with Masina 
were of frequent recurrence. Differences of religion 


were often apparently Involved, and at least one false 
prophet who arose amongst the Fulani was driven before 
the conquering arms of Songhay to found a new kingdom 
for himself in the south-western corner of the Soudan, 
close to the kingdom of the Joloffs. Independence of action, 
independence of religion, independence of administration, 
would seem to have been the sturdy characteristic of 
Fulani social life. 

Opinion is divided as to the period at which the 
Fulani generally accepted Mohammedanism, but the 
fact mentioned in the chronicles of Bornu that Fulani 
teachers from Melle were among the first to preach the 
doctrines of Mohammed in Bornu in the early part of 
the thirteenth century, combined with the high position 
constantly taken by Fulani individuals throughout the 
history of the Soudan as teachers, men of letters, &c., 
would seem to indicate that the conversion of the upper 
class of Fulani was of comparatively early date. There 
seems to have been always a distinction between the 
purely pastoral shepherd, or Cow Fulani, who occupied 
the position of a nomad peasant, caring for nothing but 
his cattle, and the aristocratic or ruling Fulani, from whose 
numbers some of the most distinguished individuals of 
Soudanese history were drawn. The Cow Fulani are to 
the present day believed to be pagan in many districts. 

The connection with the Fulani of Borgu on the 
eastern edge of the Bend of the Niger that was mentioned 
in relation to the founding of Masina on the western edge, 
is indicative of a somewhat wide distribution of Fulani 
tribes, and of an alliance, or at least friendship, between 
the Fulani of the east and west, which appears to have 
existed from very early times, and was often made use 
of by them when there was occasion to rise against the 
Songhay kings. 

Some writers assert that Kanta, the rebellious general 
of Songhay who founded the kingdom of Kebbi, was 
himself of Fulani origin. This is uncertain, but in the 
next generation to Kanta the Fulani of the eastern portion 


of the Bend of the Niger joined the banners of his son. 
It was as a partly Fulani kingdom that Kebbi became 
great, and the Fulani may perhaps be said to have first 
taken a position as rulers on the eastern side of the Niger 
when they helped Tomo, the son of Kanta, to fight Bornu, 
and to found the even now celebrated town of Birni-n- 
Kebbi within the borders of Haussaland in 1544. They 
had also, in the sixteenth century, spread into Baghirmi 
on the eastern side of Chad. In the west they gradu- 
ally absorbed the province of Wangara, and greatly 
aggrandised their ancient territory of Masina. 

It is clear that, throughout the whole period of the 
domination of the Songhay, the Fulani in their different 
centres of occupation increased in importance and in 
military strength, and were beginning to assert them- 
selves definitely as a cultivated people with a capacity for 
rule. The Askias, by the many expeditions which are 
recorded against Fulani tribes, display a certain uneasiness 
at the growing independence of this people. In the year 
1 59 1, the very year of the coming of the Moors, Fulani 
chiefs took a leading part in the sack of the territory 
of Jenne, and more than one punitive expedition was 
rendered necessary by their turbulence. 

Thus, at the end of the sixteenth century, the Fulani 
had already extended themselves through the Western 
Soudan as pastoral nomads, independent, though paying 
a grazing-tax, in all the countries which they occupied 
from the sources of the Senegal to Lake Chad. At more 
than one point on this extended line centres of govern- 
ment had been founded, and Fulani troops had established 
for themselves a reputation as military conquerors. 

At the moment of the coming of the Moors they were 
the rising power of the Soudan, and during the Moorish 
troubles at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning 
of the seventeenth centuries, they used their opportunity 
to assert their independence of Songhay. The resistance 
offered by the half Fulani state of Kebbi to the eastward 
advance of the Moors has been mentioned in an earlier 


chapter. In 1599 Masina opened a campaign against 
the Moors, and though defeated in the first instance, 
the reverse would only seem to have consolidated Fulani 
resistance to the foreign rule. In 1629, the kings of 
Masina refused any longer to accept investiture from 
the decadent government of Timbuctoo, and during the 
seventeenth century the Fulani fought for their in- 
dependence in the eastern as well as in the western 
districts of the Bend of the Niger. The Moors, harried 
upon the north by the Tuaregs of the desert, and on 
the south by the Fulani, abandoned the vain attempt 
to maintain their supremacy in the Soudan. They were 
driven out of Gago, as has been already mentioned, in 
1770. They continued to hold the town of Timbuctoo, 
but during the eighteenth century, when the Moors 
had fallen to the condition described by Mungo Park, the 
contest for the sovereignty of the Soudan would seem 
to have been between the Fulani and the Tuaregs. It 
was the Tuaregs who finally drove the Moors from Tim- 
buctoo in the year 1800, and within a generation the 
Tuaregs themselves were driven out by the Fulani. 

During this whole period of tumult the Soudan was 
closed to Europe, and we have no accurate account of 
the series of local wars by which it would seem to have 
been distracted. At the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, when, after an eclipse of two hundred years, its 
history once more emerges to our view, the situation is 
so far clear that the Fulani had become the dominating 
people, alike in the west and in the east. 

In the west, where the Tuaregs were their opponents, 
they were a little later in attaining to supreme power 
than in the eastern states, but in 18 13 Masina became 
the seat of a powerful Fulani Empire, ruled by a 
Sheikh of the name of Ahmadou. Under the leader- 
ship of Ahmadou, Masina conquered Timbuctoo in 1833. 
On the death of Ahmadou in 1844, Timbuctoo was once 
more taken by the Tuaregs, but it was reconquered by 
the Fulani in 1855, and, with the exception of three 

2 B 


years, from i860 to 1863, when it was taken and held 
by the Toucouleurs, a half-breed Fulani people, the true 
Fulani continued to hold it up to the moment of its 
conquest by the French in 1893. '^^^^ Toucouleurs, who 
remained masters of a portion of the Niger Valley, and 
who also submitted to France in 1893, were a people 
in whose veins Fulani blood predominated to so great 
an extent that their ascendancy on the upper river may 
be accepted as representing for that part of the country 
the general ascendancy of the Fulani races. 

The history of the Fulani conquest of the Haussa 
States, where another Sheikh, as famous as Ahmadou, 
founded a Fulani Empire, is comparatively well known. 
The country was, we have seen, permeated with Fulani 
influence. Cow Fulani fed their cattle in every province. 
The principal towns had their Fulani quarters ; Fulani 
teachers had for six hundred years spread the doctrines 
of Mohammed ; distinguished members of the Fulani race 
occupied high places as councillors, judges, high priests, 
and men of war. Zaria had had, according to one ac- 
count, a Fulani king from the year 1780. The western 
provinces of Bornu were also full of Fulani. The con- 
quest of Haussaland by the Fulani may therefore be 
said to have been half achieved in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, at the same time that the Fulani 
were rising in power throughout the whole Soudan. 

It was not, however, till the opening years of the 
nineteenth century that the military and political con- 
quest was completed. 

It will be remembered that, at the end of the eighteenth 
century, the still pagan state of Gober had established 
a military ascendancy over the more northerly Moham- 
medan states of Haussaland. It had conquered Zanfara 
and subdued Kano. Katsena alone had been able suc- 
cessfully to resist its power. Throughout this period the 
Fulani would seem to have greatly increased in numbers 
in Gober, and under their own chiefs and religious 
teachers they began to form a community of which 


the independent doctrines gave offence to the pagan 

In the year 1802, the King Bawa sent for their 
Imaum, Othman dan Fodio, and all the principal Fulani 
chiefs, and administered a severe public reprimand on 
account of the religious and political pretensions that 
they were beginning to put forward. This was but a 
spark to the tinder. Indignation spread through the 
Fulani community at the insult which had been offered 
to their chiefs. Othman dan Fodio inflamed the general 
sentiment by his preaching, in which he urged the Fulani 
to submit no longer to the yoke of a pagan people. The 
Fulani chiefs raised the standard of revolt ; Othman 
was elected Sheikh, and under his leadership a Holy 
War was declared which was to counterbalance, by the 
successes which it gave to the Fulani on the eastern side 
of the Niger, any temporary loss which this people had 
suffered in the west. The date of the opening of the 
Holy War is given differently by different authors, who 
vary between 1800 and 1804, but it evidently broke out 
immediately after the taking of Timbuctoo by the Tuaregs 
in 1800, and Othman dan Fodio gave the lead in Haussa- 
land, which was shortly followed by Ahmadou in the west. 
Between them these two Fulani Sheikhs conquered the 
Western Soudan from Masina to Bornu. 

The first efforts of the Fulani in Haussaland were 
stoutly resisted by Gober, and, though the province was 
subdued, the capital, Alkalawa, was not taken during the 
lifetime of Dan Fodio. But through the rest of Haussa- 
land, where the towns were already half in Fulani hands, 
the conquest of the Fulani spread rapidly. Zanfara was 
conquered in the first year of the war ; Zaria was either 
conquered, or allied itself with the conquerors, within a 
month of the submission of Zanfara. The conquest of 
Kano shortly followed ; Katsena was taken in 1807 ; and 
in 1808 the victorious arms of the Fulani were carried 
into Bornu. 

Here, however, after a short period of triumph, they 


were met and successfully resisted by another Sheikh, 
Mohammed el Kancmi, who arose in Kanem, and took 
the reins of power from the effete sovereigns of Bornu. 
This man, who founded the existing dynasty of Bornu, 
was visited by Major Denham in 1823, and is described 
by him as "a most extraordinary instance in the Eastern 
world of fearless bravery, virtue, and simplicity." His 
career was remarkable enough to deserve something 
more than a passing mention. He was born in Fezzan, 
though of Kanem parents, having, it is said, on his 
father's side, some Moorish blood. He appears to have 
been, at least partly, educated in Egypt, and to have 
been already in the position of a Sheikh before he first 
visited the home of his parents in Kanem. Here he 
lived for some years, greatly beloved and respected for 
the extreme uprightness and benevolence of his life. 

It was the conquest of Bornu by the Fulani which 
brought him into public life. Believing, or causing his 
Kanemi followers to believe, that he was inspired by a 
vision of the Almighty to undertake the liberation of 
the country, he collected a little body of the faithful, 
only 400 strong, and with them marched to a first 
encounter with the Fulani. He is said to have over- 
thrown an army 8000 strong. The result was, of course, 
to bring more soldiers to his standard, and in ten months 
he was victorious in forty battles. It is said that he 
had all the qualifications of a great commander, but so 
little of personal ambition that when, after he had driven 
the Fulani out of Bornu, the people desired to make 
him Sultan, he refused the offer, and placed Mohammed, 
the brother of the deposed Sultan Achmet, on the 
throne. He refused all titles for himself, except that 
of "Servant of God," but he kept the practical powers 
of a dictator, and, while he lived without ostentation, he 
was the head of the army, and the real ruler of the 
kingdom. He completely overthrew the Fulani, and 
defended the Empire of Bornu in many desperate cam- 
paigns against the attacks of Baghirmi. On the death 


of Sultan Mohammed he still refused to be made Sultan, 
and again put a dummy Sultan on the throne, reserving 
for himself the responsibility of power without any of 
its outward display. His campaigns were usually suc- 
cessful, and it is said of him that he "turned all victories 
to the advantage of those whom he overthrew." By 
the purity of his administration and the reforms which 
he introduced, the kingdom grew in enlightenment as 
well as power. Nowhere were the laws of Islam more 
strictly observed than in Bornu under his administration. 
The wider education of his youth had given him a 
knowledge of other countries, which he used for the 
benefit of his own. Foreigners were well received, trade 
prospered, and the roads, through the Sheikh's govern- 
ment, were, according to Major Denham, "as safe as 
any, even in happy England itself." 

After the overthrow of Baghirmi, which was achieved 
with the co-operation of the ruler of the Fezzan about 
the year 1824, the ruler of Bornu turned his arms 
against South -western Haussaland, where he was at 
first successful, and took from the Fulani the province 
of Bautchi, which they had conquered shortly after the 
taking of Zaria ; but here, in the year 1826, he was 
destined to meet with a reverse. His armies were 
defeated by the Fulani, and he himself narrowly escaped 
with his life. Shortly after this he came to terms of 
agreement with the Fulani. 

He died in 1835, when his son, who succeeded, 
abolished the dummy Sultans, and established the dynasty 
of the Kanemi openly on the throne of Bornu. 



The whole of Haussaland up to the borders of Bornu 
had before this become subject to the conquering Fulani. 
Othman dan Fodio himself died in 1816, and divided 
his newly conquered empire between his son, Mohammed 
Bello, and a brother, Abdallai. He gave to Mohammed 
Bello, who, during his father's lifetime, had founded for 
himself the new town of Sokoto, the sovereignty of the 
Eastern Provinces, while to his brother, whose head- 
quarters were at Gando, south and slightly west of 
Sokoto, he gave the provinces of the West. Sultan 
Bello, a man no less remarkable than his great rival, 
Mohammed el Kanemi, of Bornu, continued to reign 
until 1837, and this period, almost coinciding with the 
great period of Bornu under its new ruler, must be re- 
garded as forming also the great period of Fulani rule 
in Haussaland. 

Sultan Bello ascended to the throne at a very diffi- 
cult moment. His father's arms, largely under Bello's 
direction, had completed the conquest of the principal 
states of Kano, Katsena, and Zaria, in the centre of 
Haussaland, and had spread to the south-east over the 
Bautchi Hills, and into the provinces bordering upon 
the Benue. The Fulani had also, as we have seen, 
fought successfully with Zanfara and Gando. But the 
western group of provinces, including Zanfara, Gober, 
and Gando, had been very imperfectly subdued. These 
provinces, of which the governments would seem to 
have been pagan, were filled with stubborn fighters. It 
suited the Fulani to proclaim a holy war, and to inflame 


the courage of their armies by treating their enemies 
as infidels, but, as a matter of fact, there were many- 
Mohammedans amongst their opponents, for Islam had 
long been the religion of the upper classes of all the 
principal towns of Haussaland. In the central provinces 
of Katsena, Kano, and Zaria, the government and the 
whole organisation of society was Mohammedan, a fact 
admitted by the Fulani when they adopted, as they 
subsequently did, the existing Haussa, or, as the con- 
querors preferred to call them, " Habe," systems of 
law, justice, and taxation. All these were based upon 
the Koran. In Zaria the reigning dynasty was actually 
Fulani ; in Katsena and Kano the reigning sovereigns 
were of Haussa dynasties, but for many generations 
they had been Mohammedan. Kebbi, one of the most 
stubborn opponents of Fulani domination, was itself, as 
we have seen, at one time partly populated by Fulani. 
There existed, therefore, in all these provinces large 
bodies of Mohammedans, who were driven out before 
the conquerors, and in many cases we hear of Moham- 
medan Haussas obliged to take refuge, like the pagan 
population, in the hills. This is to say, that everywhere 
there existed large sections of the cultivated upper 
classes profoundly antagonistic to Fulani rule. Shortly 
after 1808 the defeats of the Fulani by Mohammed el 
Kanemi in Bornu began to inspire new courage into 
the disaffected, and about the year 1816, the very year 
of the accession of Mohammed Bello, a confederation 
was formed of Haussa States determined to fight for 
their independence with the Fulani. 

According to a Mohammedan account written by a 
certain Hadj Said, and translated as a fragment of the 
history of Sokoto by M. Houdas, Sultan Bello had hardly 
received the oath of allegiance when all the provinces 
neighbouring upon Sokoto abjured Islam and rose in 
revolt against the Mohammedan rulers, who were appar- 
ently supported, perhaps nominated, by Bello. The native 
chiefs of Gober, Zanfara, and Nupe, were the first to form 


the confederation. They were shortly joined by Northern 
Katsena, Yauri, Kebbi, Kano, Kontagora, Daura, and 
Southern Zaria. It would seem that all the lesser states 
of Haussaland at one time joined this " Tawias " or revolt 
against the Fulani. That it was not a religious but a 
political revolt is made fairly clear by the names of Kebbi, 
Kano, and Katsena, who were distinctly Mohammedan, 
and by the fact that the confederation entered into alliance 
with the Moors. 

One native chief led the revolt in Zanfara, and estab- 
lished himself in a stronghold almost within sight of Sokoto. 
Another led the revolt in the province of Gando. The 
early years of Bello's reign were occupied by constant 
expeditions against the revolted provinces. After fighting 
the pagan leaders in Gando, Gober, Zanfara, and Kebbi, 
he encountered the Moors and was himself defeated. It is 
to be noted that in these campaigns Bello's successes are 
always attributed to the exertions of his cavalry. 

At a date which is not specified by Hadj Said, but 
which must probably have been about the year 1820, the 
confederated states made a determined effort to overthrow 
their Fulani conqueror. They renewed their alliance with 
the Moors, and having assured themselves of the sympathy 
of Mohammed el Kanemi of Bornu, their combined forces 
marched upon the territory of Sokoto. Bello collected an 
immense army at Wurnu, and Omar, the head of the 
Fulani Church, a very holy man living in high repute at 
Sokoto, addressed the soldiers. The Fulani professed to 
regard the war as a struggle for life and death between 
Islam and paganism. The soldiers of Bello's army were 
enjoined to keep their hearts pure, and to commit no 
atrocities. With these injunctions the army marched to 
the encounter of the federated forces. The attack appears 
to have been made from the north, and in the dry season 
of the year. The sufferings of the army from thirst were 
terrible. Bello, in person, encouraged the troops by re- 
minding them constantly of the sacred cause for which 
they fought, but at last the position grew so desperate 


that the army was halted, and Bello called upon the 
Sheikh Omar, who had, of course, accompanied the troops, 
to pray for guidance as to whether it was the will of the 
Almighty that they should return without encountering 
the enemy. 

It is rather interesting to find among the religious 
enthusiasts of the Fulani of Sokoto in the early part of 
the century the same ideas of spiritualism, higher thought, 
and second-sight, which are to-day animating the modern 
religious sects of England and America. Omar, it is said, 
having spent the night in prayer, at sunrise heard a voice 
which cried three times, "Victory has come!" The 
Sultan at this moment sent to inquire of the holy 
man what was the will of God. Was the army to 
advance or to retreat? "To advance!" replied the 
Sheikh. The troops accordingly marched and encamped 
one station farther in the thirsty land. Here, by the 
holiness of the Sheikh, a wonder was achieved. For 
Omar, having prostrated himself in prayer and remained 
long upon the earth, saw as in second-sight water coming 
underground. Only when he saw this did he raise his 
head from the ground. The Sultan then took a spear, 
and plunging it into the earth, gave the order, " Dig 
here!" Hardly had they begun to dig when water rose. 
Every man then received orders to dig in the place on 
which he stood, and everywhere that the soldiers dug 
water was found. 

This incident is quite in the spirit of the religious 
life of Sokoto. One of the principal generals of the army, 
Abd el Kader, who was also famed for the holiness of his 
life, used to have visions in which he had intercourse 
with the dead, and at the house of one of the noble ladies 
of Sokoto spiritualistic stances used to be held, in which 
the spirits of the great dead showed themselves, we are 
told, to those who were worthy to perceive them. 

The army remained on this spot for two days. On 
the following Monday they prayed, and on the Tuesday 
the " army of the infidels " arrived. With them was Aber, 


King of the Moors. Certain Moors who were with Belle 
pointed this out to him, and the unwelcome evidence 
that the opposing army was not composed entirely of 
infidels made Bello so angry that he ordered the Moors 
who were with him to quit the ranks. 

The battle began. " God gave the victory to the 
Moslems, and 25,000 of the enemy were killed." The 
number of confederated states engaged may be partly 
estimated by the havoc made among their rulers. Al, 
King of Gober, was taken prisoner ; Roud, King of 
Katsena, was killed ; Aber, King of the Moors, fled. 
Bello kept his soldiers in strict order, and allowed no 
slaves to be made. He assembled the notables of Gober, 
and bade them choose a king in place of the king whom 
he had taken prisoner. They chose Bello's own son, Fodi. 
We are not told whether the votes were free. But even 
the complaisant chronicler of the Fulani records that 
Fodi's conduct in his new kingdom was " scandalous." 
He was "tyrannical, dissolute, impious, and occupied 
himself solely with games and pleasure." The appoint- 
ment is worth noting, as Fodi furnishes in the lifetime of 
Sultan Bello an example of the bad Fulani of whom, in the 
universal praise of the Fulani race, there is a tendency to 
lose sight. If it may be said of Sultan Bello that he was 
himself an embodiment of the very best qualities of his 
race, this favoured son may no less justly be taken as a 
prototype of the cruel and self-indulgent despots, under 
whose rule at a later period Haussaland fell into the state 
of ruin and decadence in which we found it. 

The battle in which this victory of Islam was achieved 
was called the battle of Dagh. Disastrous as it was to 
the interests of the confederation, the states did not 
accept the result as a final and decisive defeat. They 
continued their resistance to Fulani rule, and Bello 
addressed himself to the task of reducing each singly 
to submission. Zanfara was conquered, and he placed 
his brother Atiku upon that throne. Gando then raised 
a revolt against Abdallai, Bello's uncle. Bello marched 


against the revolted province, and the campaign is inte- 
resting for the illustration which it gives of liello's respect 
for his father's division of the territory of Haussaland, and 
also for the growing evidence — which even the Fulani 
generals could not ignore — that the opponents of Bello 
were not entirely pagans. Throughout the campaign 
Bello forbade his troops to enter the town of Gando, 
which was under his uncle's rule, and we are allowed to 
know that warm discussions arose between the generals 
as to whether their enemies were infidels or not. When 
at last the battle which put an end to the revolt was 
fought, it was found necessary, in observance of Koranic 
law, to apply some religious test to the prisoners. They 
were called upon to recite the fatiha, and to make their 
ablutions. Those who passed the test satisfactorily were 
set at liberty. Those who did not were sold as slaves. 
The refusal to permit slaves to be made after the battle 
of Dagh already indicated some scruple of conscience 
on Bello's part. 

It was at about this period that Mohammed el Kanemi 
of Bornu, having completed the subjection of Baghirmi, 
turned his attention to Haussaland. All the vanquished 
Sultans of Western Haussaland, says the chronicler, 
grouped themselves round him, and he promised to 
restore them all to their thrones should he prove vic- 
torious in the struggle with the Sultan Bello. 

The encounter between the two forces took place, as 
we have seen, in the south-eastern provinces, and was 
unfavourable to the hopes of the Haussa kings. The 
army of Bornu, bearing a letter of defiance to Sultan 
Bello, marched in the first instance upon Kano. Bello, 
who appears to have fully recognised the magnitude of the 
danger which threatened him in now, for the first time, 
frankly facing a Mohammedan foe, rallied all his forces 
from the south, and called upon the Fulani sovereigns 
of Zaria and Bautchi to put their armies in the field. 
A general advance was made against El Kanemi, who 
appears to have turned and marched southwards. The 


exact spot in which the first battle took place is not 
indicated ; but the fight raged long and fiercely, and it 
was the troops of Yakoub, the Sultan of Bautchi, who 
at last decided the action against Bornu. This battle, 
which, as we learn from the history of Bornu, took 
place in 1826, appears to have been the last important 
battle of Sultan Bello's reign. After it a lasting peace 
was concluded between Sokoto and Bornu, and the 
principal Haussa dynasties appear to have acquiesced in 
their final deposition from the thrones of Haussaland. 

The western states of the Haussa confederation, 
according to the account given by Clapperton, finally 
made peace on the understanding that they were to 
continue to be ruled by their hereditary native princes, 
and that the Fulani were not to interfere with them. It 
is not definitely stated that these were the states subject 
to Gando, but the general course of events would lead 
to this inference. The ruler of Gando had from the 
beginning leaned upon Sokoto, in order to obtain the 
submission of his subject provinces. Thus Sokoto ap- 
parently gained a vague overlordship of Gando, while the 
states of which Gando was suzerain existed on somewhat 
different terms from those acknowledging direct allegi- 
ance to Sokoto. Sokoto became the universally accepted 
suzerain of the entire territory, and Fulani rule was 
established more or less completely from the capital of 
that province to the farthest limit enclosed between the 
Middle Niger and the Benue. 

According to the Fulani chronicles, while Bello lived, 
Haussaland enjoyed a period of great prosperity. Clap- 
perton, who travelled through the country during the 
lifetime of Sultan Bello, tells us that under Fulani rule 
trade was discouraged by heavy duties, but that agri- 
culture flourished. The country round Zaria, when he 
first saw it, was "like the finest in England." There 
were quantities of rice and corn, and the land every- 
where " looked beautiful." He notes fine cattle and 
horses, and heavy crops of grain "just high enough to 


wave with the wind." Wheat began north of Zaria. 
Zaria was then largely populated by Fulani and Arabs, 
who had flocked to Dan Fodio's standard, and to whom 
he had given the lands of the former inhabitants, who 
had fled to the mountains in the southern part of the 
province. These Mohammedan inhabitants maintained, 
like the pagans, a chronic state of war against the 
Fulani. The general form of residence of the Fulani 
rulers in Haussaland seems to have been adapted to 
this condition of affairs, and was, Clapperton tells us, 
"like the old keeps or castles in Scotland, near the 

Throughout the whole of his active life Bello found 
time to devote to literature. He was extremely fond 
of study, and wrote many books. His numerous works 
were, it is said, usually written in the form of dissertations, 
or replies to questions which raised doubtful points of 
law. But he also wrote some purely literary essays, 
amongst them one upon the poems of his father, which 
w^ere "composed in the Soudanese language." Some 
short notes of his upon the geography and history of 
the Soudan, compiled by him from Haussa manuscripts, 
have been preserved. He is said to have encouraged 
science and learning, and at his court distinguished men 
from all countries were well received. It must, however, 
be counted as a serious blot upon his literary reputation 
that he everywhere permitted Haussa manuscripts to be 
destroyed, in order to efface the records of the con- 
quered people. 

He encouraged the members of his own family to 
acquire learning, and protested warmly against the form 
of Haussa superstition, which would have accredited 
them, by the mere fact of their birth, with inherited 
wisdom. "That," he constantly told them, "is pure illu- 
sion ; knowledge can be maintained only by instruction." 

In his public dealings he was equitable and modest. 
He maintained himself in early life entirely by his own 
exertions, refusing to live upon the public treasury. He 


had entered into this compact when he and his father 
opened their first holy campaign. " For you," he said 
to his father, "it is unavoidable that you should use the 
public money ; but I am young : I can learn a trade 
and support myself." This, according to one of his 
historians, he continued to do all his life ; but it is 
more probable that after his accession he yielded, like 
his father, to the pressure of necessity, and made use 
of the public funds. 

He was, we are told, very good to the people, full 
of indulgence, calm and patient. He was an able ad- 
ministrator. When he wrote the treatises upon points 
of law, to which he devoted much of his time, the first 
thing that he did with them was to make them known 
to all his people, in order that the law might be gene- 
rally observed. He inspected the Cadis, kept them in 
check, and annulled any unjust judgment. When, after 
his death, he was succeeded by his brother Atiku, the 
judges begged Atiku not to reverse their judgments as 
Bello had done ; but Atiku was of the same breed, and 
only replied: "Judge with equity, and I will not reverse 
your judgments. Be on the side of right wherever you 
find it." The system of justice adopted by the Fulani 
was that already instituted by the Haussas. In their 
system of taxation the Fulani would seem, however, to 
have introduced innovations which must have been in 
many instances grievous to the Haussa people. 

In appearance Bello was "red, tall, and bald, with 
a tufted beard." He wore the veil. His final illness 
lasted for some months. When it became grave, he 
sent for his son Ali, and warned him against trying to 
become Sultan after him. He refused to name a suc- 
cessor ; but desired that his successor should be elected 
according to the custom of the people. He died at 
fifty-eight years of age, and left many sons and daughters. 



Bello of Sokoto and Kanemi of Bornu, who died 
within two years of each other, were the two great 
native sovereigns of the nineteenth century in the 
country now known as Northern Nigeria. 

They had established their dynasties securely on 
their respective thrones, but the impression of their 
greatness did not long survive them. It would but 
weary the reader if I were to attempt to relate the 
little wars and counter wars which filled the second 
half of the nineteenth century, and immediately pre- 
ceded the introduction of British administration. What 
has been told of the establishment of the Bornuese and 
Fulani powers is enough to show that in both cases 
very strong elements of disruption were waiting only 
for the removal of the hand which had welded the state 
together to break into active discord. There has re- 
mained the difference between the two empires, that in 
Bornu the power established was to a great extent a 
native power, which had to war against foreign invad- 
ing elements, while in the rest of Haussaland the power 
established was a foreign power which fastened itself 
upon the necks of already existing and well-established 
native rulers. The wars, which in the latter half of the 
century decimated both empires, kept the different char- 
acter imposed by this circumstance. 

In the case of Bornu, the attacks of old enemies 
and foreign invaders from the east tended to minimise 
the native power, while pagan states previously held 


subject in the south profited by every opportunity to 
assert their independence. 

On the western border of Bornu some Fulani states also 
made good an independent position ; desert tribes raided 
from the north, and Bornu proper became, in the course 
of fifty years, a mere section of the Bornu Empire as 
it was ruled by Mohammed el Kanemi. Barth, who 
entered Haussaland from Tripoli in 1850, and travelled 
through Bornu, gives some account of troubles already 
tending to overthrow the power and dignity of Bornu. 
By various causes, of which perpetual slave-raiding was 
not the least active, the country was gradually deso- 
lated. Its trade was almost destroyed, its agriculture 
ruined, and towards the end of the century it fell an 
easy prey to a native military adventurer known as 
Rabbeh Zubeir, who, marching with a large army from 
Darfur, subdued for a time the whole Mohammedan belt 
to the east of Chad. In 1893 Rabbeh overthrew the 
existing dynasty of Bornu, and continued to rule the 
country under a military tyranny till in April of 1900 
he in turn was overthrown, not by the British, but by 
the French. French troops encountered his forces upon 
the border of what is now German territory, and having 
placed their own nominee on the throne of Bornu, 
their commanders were actually levying tribute in British 
territory at the moment when British administration 
was established in Northern Nigeria. The fortunes of 
Bornu had never in all its history been so low ; the 
pride of its rulers, represented by an unhappy puppet 
held captive in foreign territory, was in the dust. 

In the remainder of Haussaland a no less disastrous 
condition of affairs had been produced by the convulsive 
efforts of some of the Haussa States to cast off the rule 
of the Fulani, of others to aggrandise themselves at the 
expense of weaker neighbours, and of the pagans to 
maintain their cherished independence against all Mo- 
hammedan and slave-raiding powers alike ; while above 
the seething mass of discontent, rebellion, and civil war. 


the Fulani power tightened its hold only the more 
despotically upon such portions of the country as it 
could keep. A domination, which was established in 
the name of religion and justice, had fallen into tyranny, 
tempered only by the weakness or the moderation of 
personal rulers. Under Dan Fodio and Bello the con- 
quering armies of the Fulani were enjoined to spread 
the true faith and to convert the pagans to Islamism. 
At a later period it was found more profitable to leave 
the pagans in a condition in which it was lawful to 
make slaves and to exact tribute, and Fulani wars de- 
generated into little more than slave-raiding expeditions. 
The judicial system of the Haussas, already founded 
on Mohammedan institutions, and adopted in the first 
instance by the conquerors, was allowed to fall into 
disuse. Courts continued to exist, but the Alkalis who 
should have presided over them and dispensed justice 
according to Koranic law, irremovable from their posi- 
tions as the judges of Great Britain, were either dis- 
regarded, as in some cases by the great chiefs who 
held their own courts and gave decisions at their own 
will, or over-ruled by the emir, or worse still, subjected 
to the authority of the emir's favourite slaves, who 
decreed to their enemies inhuman punishments of their 
own invention. For the nails to be torn out with red- 
hot pincers, for the limbs to be pounded one by one 
in a mortar while the victims were still alive, for im- 
portant people who had offended to be built up alive 
gradually in the town walls, till, after a period of 
agony, the head of the dying man was finally walled 
up, were among the punishments well attested to have 
been inflicted in the decadence of Fulani power. It is 
said that a considerable number of the walls of Haussa 
towns are known by the people to have been so built up, 
and are even now called by the name of the most dis- 
tinguished victims whose corpses they contain. Impale- 
ment and mutilation were among the penalties of lesser 
offences. Some of the Fulani emirs would themselves 

2 c 


appear to have been monsters of inhumanity, who re- 
joiced, like the depraved emperors of Rome, in witness- 
ing the mortal agonies of their victims. The public 
prisons became places of public torture, from which few 
who were confined in them could escape alive. Here 
is the description of the prison of Kano, as it was in 
existence up to the moment of the British occupation 
of the province. I quote the High Commissioner's 
account, given in the Colonial Report for Northern 
Nigeria, 1902 : — 

" I visited the dungeon myself. A small doorway, 
2 feet 6 inches by i foot 6 inches, gives access to it. 
The interior is divided, by a thick, mud wall, with a 
similar hole through it, into two compartments, each 
17 feet by 7, and 11 feet high. This wall was pierced 
with holes at its base, through which the legs of those 
sentenced to death were thrust up to the thigh, and the 
condemned men were left to be trodden on by the mass 
of other prisoners till they died of thirst or starvation. 
The place is entirely air-tight and unventilated, except 
for the one small doorway, or rather hole in the wall, 
through which you creep. The total space inside is 
2618 cubic feet, and at the time we took Kano, 135 
human beings were confined here each night, being let out 
during the day to cook their food, &c., in a small adjoining 
area. Recently as many as 200 have been interned at 
one time. As the superficial area was only 238 square 
feet, there was not, of course, even standing room. 
Victims were crushed to death every night, and their 
corpses were hauled out each morning. The stench, 
I am told, inside the place when Colonel Morland visited 
it was intolerable, though it was empty, and when I 
myself went inside, more than three weeks later, the 
effluvia was unbearable for more than a few seconds." 

These were the forms and these the instruments to 
the use of which Fulani justice had degenerated, and in 
the midst of them the only chance of obtaining favourable 
consideration of a given case lay in heavy bribery. The 


powers and constitution of the courts varied in every 
Fulani province, but in all the tendency was to inflict 
heavy fines for the benefit of the emir and the court. 
In all, without exception, such justice as there was, was 
bought and sold. 

The system of taxation, like the system of justice, 
originally based in the Haussa States upon Koranic law, 
and in the first instance adopted by the conquerors, was 
similarly debased. The legitimate taxation established 
under the Haussa dynasties divides itself roughly into 
the four classes of taxes on land and crops ; taxes on 
cattle ; taxes on handicrafts and trades ; customs, tolls, 
and death duties. To these there was added, in the first 
instance, a tax payable from all the conquered states to 
Sokoto and Gando, which, though payable from Moslem 
to Moslem, and called by a different name to distinguish 
it from the tribute only lawfully to be taken from pagans, 
was, in fact, the equivalent of a tribute, and by its pay- 
ment conveyed the recognition of sovereignty. Had this 
been all, the conquered states might reasonably have 
accepted the inevitable. But if the abuse of justice is 
one of the means by which arbitrary authority can assert 
its power, the abuse of taxation is an even more fruitful 
and more tempting method. Taxes multiplied in the 
Fulani states. Under the four leo^itimate headino-s, now 
increased by the institution of the Sokoto and Gando 
tribute to five, each ruler invented at his will new imposts. 
Even in Bello's lifetime, Haussa trade was, according to 
the contemporary observation of Clapperton, hampered 
under Fulani rule by heavy dues. In the degradation of 
Fulani rule in the latter half of the century, trade was 
practically destroyed, and agriculture rendered almost 
impossible by the ceaseless creation of new taxes. Not 
only were new taxes imposed at the will of each new 
ruler, but the collection of existing taxes was made the 
subject of such abuse as the collection of taxes has been 
ever subject to in countries where personal authority has 
supported law. A body of alien tax-gatherers fastened 


like parasites upon the country. Fulani tax-collectors 
oppressed the native peasantry of every village. To 
show any sign of wealth was to invite the rapacity of 
those higher in the social scale. The Fulani conquerors 
claimed sovereign rights in land. Whole districts were 
given as feoffs to favourite retainers, who, living about the 
court in the enjoyments of office, collected taxes for 
the emir and for themselves from their feoffs through 
the agency of certain officials. These officials became 
practically their private servants, and of course shared 
the spoil. Agriculture groaned under the exactions that 
were laid upon it. 

In nearly all the country districts the peasantry had 
remained pagan. To raid pagan countries for slaves 
was lawful according to the Koran. In the earlier years 
of their rule the Fulani used this permission to carry out 
raids against the pagan centres of the southern districts. 
Gradually, however, rebellion had its effect. As their 
power weakened, and was confined within narrower 
limits in the southern emirates, they were forced to 
abandon the process of distant raiding. They began to 
raid and sell their own peasantry, and thus completed the 
desolation of the country by a process which resembled 
the fabulous devouring of its own body by a snake. 

It is not to be wondered at that revolt succeeded to 
revolt, and that Fulani power was more and more con- 
fined in the southern states to the limits of its own walled 
towns. Mutually defiant strongholds arose over the 
country. In the mountainous districts the wilder tribes 
of the pagans, including still some who preserve the 
habits of cannibals, found for themselves natural fortresses, 
in which they defended as they could the liberty which 
was their sole possession. 

Yet through all the degradation of earlier Fulani 
ideals it is to be understood that in the Fulani emirates 
there was still to be found something of the nobler 
traditions of ancient thought. Individual rulers were 
still merciful and just. Abuse of power had not wholly 


destroyed its dignity. Though nominally the rulers of 
the whole of Haussaland, the principal seats of Fulani 
power were to be found in the north. Here Sokoto still 
commanded, as the suzerain of Haussaland, a something 
more than nominal allegiance ; Kano sustained its ancient 
reputation as a trade centre, of which the relations ex- 
tended to the Atlantic, to the Red Sea, and to the 
Mediterranean ; Katsena and Zaria, notwithstanding many 
abuses, maintained themselves as administrative centres 
of importance. 

The resemblance between the feudal system of the 
Fulani and the system established by the conquests of 
northern nations in Europe in the early portion of the 
Middle Ages, will not have escaped the reader. The 
parallel is remarkable with the system established in 
England by the Saxons, but in Haussaland it was perhaps 
closer to that which was developed in Italy under the 
Lombards. There is also this point of difference, that 
whereas the Haussas were an agricultural people, the 
Fulani were in their origin pastoral, and it is a recognised 
law of historic evolution that the rule of pastoral races 
has a stronger tendency to despotism than the rule of 
agricultural races. Underneath all the abuses which have 
established themselves in the Fulani administration of 
Haussaland there is said to exist, by those who have 
had the opportunity of studying the state systems of the 
different emirates, evidence of a deep-rooted desire for 
self-government. Presumably the conquered states en- 
deavoured to retain as many as possible of the existing 
safeguards of their constitutions. The emirs are elected 
by a council of elders, and this council is not an empty 
name. It has a right to be consulted by the emirs in 
relation to all their important acts. The emir who 
ignores it is regarded as a tyrant, and runs great risk 
of losing his throne. 

The constitution of Bida, by which the Fulani 
emirate of Nupe is now ruled, is one in which the prin- 
ciple of constitutional government was carried under the 


Fulani to its most complete expression. Here, in addition 
to the emir and a council of princes composed only of 
descendants of the founder of the dynasty, which, though 
not entirely hereditary, bore some resemblance to a 
House of Lords, there was also a council corresponding 
in some degree to our own House of Commons. This 
was a council of notables, not of royal blood, but holding 
important state offices, and including the waziri or prime 
minister, the chief justice, the chief preacher, the 
commander-in-chief of the army, and the principal officers 
of the emir's household. The head of this council was 
the prime minister, and it was the prime minister, not 
one of the members of the council of princes, who was 
regarded as second in the state to the emir. Neither 
council was in a literal sense elective, the appointment 
to both being in the hands of the emir. But by native 
custom no appointment was made to either council with- 
out giving time for an expression of public opinion, and 
there were certain recognised methods by which the emir 
took the advice of his people in the matter both of appoint- 
ments to council and to all the principal offices of state. 
Important matters of public policy were referred to the 
consideration of the two councils sitting together, but 
the ordinary business of the state was carried on by a 
privy council composed of two officers taken from each 
council, who were in constant consultation with the emir. 
This constitution is believed to have been adopted from 
the original Nupe state system. The constitutions of 
Sokoto and Gando, both of them new states created by 
the Fulani, are less elaborate. 

By the end of the nineteenth century, that is, at the 
moment of the introduction of British authority, the 
territory of Haussaland may be said to have divided 
itself into three classes of states. There were states 
under P"ulani rule such as those just named, where Fulani 
institutions were in active existence ; other states conquered 
by the Fulani and nominally under Fulani rule, where 
taxes and Mohammedan institutions were imposed in 


different degree according to the amount of real authority 
exercised by the conqueror ; and states which, from vary- 
ing causes, were wholly independent. These last were 
either states which had succeeded in always defending 
their independence, and were ruled over by responsible 
native rulers of their own race, such as Boussa, Kiania, 
Argungu, &c., or Haussa and pagan communities which, 
having been once under Fulani rule, had succeeded in 
throwing it off, and were generally known by the name 
of Tawai, or " Revolted Peoples." Finally, there were 
independent pagan tribes, mostly in a low stage of 
development — sometimes even cannibals — and owning 
allegiance to no single authority. These resembled the 
pagans of the coast, among whom the authority of an 
individual chief is sometimes limited to the ramifications 
of his own family. As the higher development of 
Mohammedan institutions was to be found in the northern 
states, so this lowest type of pagan was most numerous 
in the southern districts lying upon both sides of the 
Benue. And, correspondingly, while the low class of 
pagan still held occasional fastnesses in the hills of the 
Fulani states, Fulani conquerors had imposed themselves 
upon the southern districts and held certain walled towns 
in the pagan areas. 

Through the chaos of these conflicting interests, the 
practice of slave-raiding, carried on alike by the highest 
and the lowest, ran like the poison of a destructive sore, 
destroying every possibility of peaceful and prosperous 



From time immemorial the slave trade of the ancient 
world had its markets of supply in the Soudan. The 
earliest Greek historians speak of slaves captured by 
the native tribes of North Africa, and the monuments 
of Persia and Ethiopia show that the enslavement of 
the negro was a custom more ancient than any written 
record. In modern times the horrors of the African 
slave trade have been fully exposed by the great army 
of explorers who have penetrated into the interior of 
the continent. Livingstone, Baker, Stanley, Cameron, 
and many others, have given the testimony of eye-wit- 
nesses to the sufferings of the natives, whom the demand 
for slaves caused to be hunted like wild beasts in their 
homes. My husband, when he fought against the slave- 
raiders of Nyassaland, was himself a witness of the 
brutalities of the Mohammedan slave-hunters in East 
Africa. The curse of the slave-hunt in the equatorial 
regions of the continent has known no limit of time 
or place. It has spread broadly from sea to sea. To 
abolish it has been one of the aims which has most 
strongly enlisted the sympathy of the public in the 
modern movement of carrying civilisation into Africa. 

During the whole period of which the principal historic 
movements of the Western Soudan have been so scantily 
outlined in this book, the trade in slaves was one of 
the most important elements of local industry and of 
foreign commerce, Spain and Portugal, North Africa and 
Egypt, drew their supply of slaves through the Middle 

Ages from the Soudan. We have seen at a later period 



how the slave trade of Europe was conducted on the 

Slave trade carried on upon an extensive scale in- 
volved the practice of slave-raiding as necessarily as 
the export of gold involved in West Africa the practice 
of alluvial gold-mining. From the earliest times it had 
been the custom, as we have seen, not only of Haussa- 
land, but of all the countries of the Western Soudan, 
to raid the territories of the cannibal pagans to the 
south regularly once a year for slaves, and when war 
offered occasion for further profitable captures, whole 
armies were sometimes enslaved. 

To the cannibal, whose practice it was to kill and 
eat his prisoners, slavery presented itself in the light of 
a merciful fate, and it was so considered by the con- 
queror. The view of the Mohammedan or of the higher 
class pagan with regard to the practice of raiding for 
slaves, would seem to have been almost identical with 
that of the Spaniards and Portuguese at the time of the 
discovery of the East and West Indies. Inferior races 
of a different faith did not count in the ranks of free 
human beings. They were little better than cattle, and 
as such might be hunted and taken without any deroga- 
tion from the laws of humanity. The difference between 
the humane man and the cruel man lay not in the practice 
of or the abstinence from slaving, but in the manner in 
which slaves were treated ; and in general the slaves 
of Negroland would seem to have been governed with 
tolerant good-humour. Their sufferings were not directly 
intentional, but were incidental to the barbarities of the 
slave-raid, by which whole villages were destroyed, and to 
the horrors of transit on foot across the desert. 

Were it not that human remains are destructible, 
the caravan route from Tripoli to Haussaland would 
be paved deep with human bones. Here is a descrip- 
tion, given by Major Denham in 1822, of the condition 
of that road less than a hundred years ago. He men- 
tions a well within half a mile of Mesbroo. " Round 


this spot," he says, " were lying more than a hundred 
skeletons, some of them with the skin still remaining 
attached to the bone. The Arabs laughed heartily at 
my expression of horror, and said they were only blacks, 
nam boo (damn their father), and began knocking their 
limbs about with the butt end of their firelocks, saying : 
' This was a woman ! This was a youngster ! ' " As the 
road wound southwards skeletons were passed at the 
rate of eighty and ninety a day, and at the wells of 
El Hammar, three days farther on, the numbers of 
skeletons that lay about were countless. "Those of two 
women, whose perfect and regular teeth bespoke them 
young, were particularly shocking; their arms still remained 
clasped round each other as they had expired, although 
the flesh had long since -perished by being exposed to 
the burning rays of the sun." On the following day, as 
Major Denham dozed on his horse about noon, over- 
come by the heat of the sun, he was suddenly awakened 
by "a crashing under my feet, which startled me ex- 
cessively. I found that my steed had, without any sen- 
sation of shame or alarm, stepped upon the perfect 
skeletons of two human beings, cracking their brittle 
bones under his feet, and by one trip of his foot separat- 
inof from the trunk a skull which rolled on before him." 
Along the greater part of the way, Major Denham says that 
every few miles a skeleton was seen through the whole 
day. " Some were partially covered with sand, others 
with only a small mound formed by the wind ; one hand 
often lay under the head, and frequently both, as if in the 
act of compressing the head. The skin and membranous 
substance all shrivel up and dry from the state of the air : 
the thick muscular and external parts only decay." When 
it is remembered that this description applies in the 
beginning of the nineteenth century after Christ to a 
road which has been used for the same purpose of slave 
transit for perhaps as many as nineteen centuries before 
Christ, the imagination quails before the total of grief and 
suffering which must lie embedded in its dust. 


The raids by means of which slaves are obtained 
in the hunting grounds of the interior to be despatched 
upon this journey across the desert, are even more pro- 
ductive of human suffering, more desolating to all that 
makes up the most primitive conceptions of human hap- 
piness. Apart from the enslavement of prisoners of war, 
which constitutes a separate branch of the same custom, 
and occurs whenever a successful war gives the oppor- 
tunity for it, the slave-raid, as a national habit, is still 
usually directed against natives of a different religion, 
who are assumed to be of a lower order of humanity. 
Throughout the West of Africa, at the beginning of the 
present century, the custom remained among the races 
bordering northwards upon the desert to raid southwards 
among the pagans and cannibals for the purpose of filling 
their slave-rooms, stocking their farms, and increasing 
their revenues by the surplus which could be disposed 
of in the market. It was a relatively small surplus 
only which experienced the pains of the desert jour- 
ney for purposes of exportation, but though relatively 
small it was numerically great, and the sum of misery 
inflicted by the slave -hunts of countless generations 
defies all computation. It is not to be supposed that 
it was the Christian nor even the Mohammedan who 
first invented the theory that there is no moral obliga- 
tion to respect the rights of infidels. Indeed, if modern 
experience may be trusted, it would seem rather that 
the less is the grade of difference the more is the sense 
of distance between the despiser and the despised. The 
contempt of the superior pagan for the inferior fetish 
worshipper is just as keen as that of the Christian for 
the pagan, and from race to race in a descending scale 
the theory of inferiority has been acted on as a justifica- 
tion of the practice of enslavement. 

In West Africa, where the superior race preyed 
directly upon the inferior, the practice has probably been 
peculiarly demoralising, for there the brutality of the 
slave-raider was added to the despotism of the slave- 


owner. The right of slave-raiding, like that of making 
war, would seem to have been originally a royal preroga- 
tive, and it was apparently maintained as an annual 
practice, to which no sense whatever of immorality was 
attached. It was simply, like elephant hunting, one of the 
means by which the royal coffers were replenished, and 
those who took part in the raid received their share of 
spoil. Leo Africanus complains, in relation to Bornu, 
in the beginning- of the sixteenth century, that merchants 
who took horses there for sale were sometimes delayed 
a whole year because the horses were paid for in slaves, 
and the king raided only once a year. 

Dr. Barth, who accompanied a slave-raid, made by 
the forces of Bornu against the pagan natives of Musgu 
in the winter of 1851-52, has left an account of the opera- 
tion, which is interesting as applying to districts with 
which the British Government has now to deal, and may 
serve to show how such practices must affect the private 
and public life of peoples amongst whom they are 

His account is too long to quote in full, but some of 
the principal points may be briefly given. The ruler 
of Bornu, finding his treasury and his slave-rooms empty, 
determined upon a slave-raiding expedition. There was 
at first some doubt as to the exact direction in which 
it should be sent. Finally, it was determined to attack 
the pagans of Musgu in a territory south of Bornu, and 
not far from the present German frontier in the east. 
Towards the end of November a host numbering over 
20,000 cavalry and a larger number on foot, including 
many women, and a proportionate amount of tents and 
baggage, marched southwards. So long as this force 
was within the limits of friendly territory they were sup- 
posed to be under discipline, and to take nothing from 
the villages but corn and rice. As a matter of fact, dis- 
cipline was impossible to maintain, and not only were the 
crops forcibly reaped, but as the army marched towards 
the frontier the friendly villages which lay upon its road 


were looted. As soon as the frontier of the pagan 
country was reached, a general Hcence was, of course, 
given, and Dr. Barth describes day by day the progress 
of this vast band of robbers, who spread Hke a swarm of 
locusts over the fertile country. 

The pagans were apparently in this instance of the 
higher type. They were no homeless savages. On the 
contrary, they were better agriculturists than the Bornu 
people themselves. The whole country was rich, and 
village after village of neatly built huts, having their 
pagan cemeteries and rude monuments to the dead, stood 
among fields of corn, tobacco, indigo, cotton, sorghum, 
and rice. In one place Dr. Barth says : " The landscape 
was exceedingly beautiful, richly irrigated and finely 
wooded, while to our great astonishment the ground 
was so carefully cultivated that even manure had been 
put upon the fields in a regular manner, being spread 
over the ground to a great extent, the first example of 
such careful tillage that I had as yet observed in Central 
Africa, either among Mohammedans or pagans," 

Throughout this district the army marched, murdering, 
burning, destroying as they went. The inhabitants, know- 
ing the object of their march, usually fied before them 
to the forest, abandoning their property that they might 
save their persons. This manoeuvre was frequently suc- 
cessful, and slaves were not always obtained. The villages 
were none the less burnt, and the surrounding crops de- 
stroyed. When prisoners were captured, only women and 
the young were kept. Full-grown men were massacred. 
On one day Dr. Barth reports: "A large number of 
slaves had been caught this day. Altogether they were 
said to have taken a thousand, and there were certainly 
not less than five hundred. To our utmost horror not 
less than one hundred and seventy full-grown men were 
mercilessly slaughtered in cold blood, the greater part 
of them being allowed to bleed to death, a leg having 
been severed from the body." On other occasions the 
whole day's spoil was limited to a handful of slaves, 


"unfortunate creatures whom sickness or ill-advised 
courage prevented from leaving their native villages." 
The pagans made occasionally a desperate and some- 
times even an heroic defence, but the superior arms, and 
still more the numbers of the Bornuese troops, invariably 
secured the victory. The country which was the scene 
of these operations is described, not only as well culti- 
vated, but as densely inhabited. The villages themselves 
afforded everywhere the same appearance of comfort and 
cheerfulness, and in their wholesale destruction by fire, 
the destruction of the granaries which they contained 
was of even more importance than the destruction of the 
huts themselves, for as the grain was already harvested, 
this must have meant, not only starvation during the 
winter, but the loss of seed corn for the ensuing season. 

Scenes of fire and sword during the active days of 
the expedition were succeeded at intervals by the par- 
tition of the prisoners. This proceeding was accompanied, 
says Dr. Barth, by the " most heartrending scenes caused 
by the numbers of young children, and even infants, who 
were to be distributed, many of those poor creatures 
being mercilessly torn away from their mothers, never 
to see them again." This comment indicates also that 
the raid was carried on over the country of higher-class 
pagans. The lower types part in many instances with 
perfect indifference from their young. Cattle was, of 
course, carried off, as well as slaves, wherever it was 
met with. 

The expedition returned on this occasion, after two 
months, to Bornu, and when the total gains were reckoned 
uo, they were found to amount to something over 3000 
slaves and 10,000 head of cattle. The slaves consisted 
almost entirely of women and young persons, mostly 
children, and the slaughter of full-grown males was said 
to have amounted to no more than 300, or one in ten. 
The great majority of full-grown males had therefore 
escaped, as had the more active of the full-grown young 
women. Of the 3000 taken, the commander-in-chief 


claimed one-third. There remained 2000 slaves and 
about 7000 head of cattle to divide between the 20,000 
persons who had composed the expedition. That is to say, 
that if the spoil was evenly divided, each man would receive 
the tenth part of a slave and the third part of a bullock 
as his individual share. That such waste of life, destruc- 
tion of property, and loss of time could be considered, even 
from the purely practical point of view, to be compensated 
by such poor results, is indication enough of how little 
all these things are valued among races where practices 
of this kind are countenanced. 

I have quoted the account of this raid at some length, 
for, as it happened to be accompanied by two trust- 
worthy Europeans, the details may be accepted as correct, 
and the incidents, though varying, no doubt, on every 
occasion, are typical enough to illustrate vividly the ab- 
solute incompatibility of slave-raiding with the mainten- 
ance of civilised government in the country raided. The 
more cultivated nations of West Africa, though tolerant 
of the practice of slave-raiding in the territory of their 
pagan neighbours, never, of course, permitted such a 
practice in what may be called the home territories. It 
was only in the decadence and feebleness of a multi- 
plication of petty monarchs that the custom of raiding 
within the narrow limits of individual provinces became 
general, and it is hardly necessary to say that where it 
prevails neither order, security, nor prosperity are in an 
even moderate degree attainable. 

Between the date of 1851 and the year of the intro- 
duction of British authority into Northern Nigeria, the 
practice of slave-raiding as described by Dr. Barth 
had become general throughout the Protectorate. It has 
already been said that the feoff-holders of the Fulani 
emirates resorted at times to the expedient of selling 
their own peasantry, and there was no province of which 
the entire territory could be said to be free from the 
curse of the slave-raid. 

It will be easily understood that, however broken 


might be the spirit of the raided populations, such 
aggression did not pass without leading to some form of 
retaliation. Roads were closed in every direction, and 
the approach of the Mohammedan was resented in arms 
by a peasantry who always cultivated their fields with 
weapons slung upon their backs. The bow and arrow — 
often the poisoned arrow — of the pagan is in dexterous 
hands a more effective weapon than the clumsy and 
old-fashioned musket of the local Mohammedan, and it 
was by force of numbers rather than by superior 
weapons or military skill that the Fulani armies over- 
powered the pagan populations in their raids. It lay 
with the pagans in return to close their roads to the 
passage of all individual traders who might prove to be 
but spies upon fertile or thickly populated lands. Nor 
is it to be understood that the pagans themselves were 
wholly free from the vice of slave-raiding. They paid 
their tribute usually in slaves. They raided their 
enemies for slaves, and, as one of the incidental results 
of this preying of man on man, the roads through the 
country became generally so unsafe that travelling was 
only possible in well-defended caravans. 

It is also to be noted, as the result of half a century 
of anarchy, that the population of the Haussa States and 
Bornu, described by Dr. Barth in 1854 as dense, and 
estimated at about fifty millions, had, at the period of 
the British occupation, entirely deserted some of the 
most naturally fertile areas, and had fallen to a total 
which is now believed to equal only one-fifth of the 
estimated amount, or about ten to twelve millions. 


It will be understood that in attempting, as I am now 
about to do, to give some account of the establishment 
of British administration in the midst of the conditions 
which have been described, I enter upon a difficult portion 
of my task. The British High Commissioner is my 
husband. Many members of his staff have become my 
personal friends. It is impossible for me altogether to 
clear my mind of favourable prejudice, and I am forced 
to realise that the detachment which gives the propor- 
tion of history is no longer at my command. I can only 
therefore ask beforehand for indulgence if in this last 
section of my book personal sentiment tends to warp my 
judgment of the relative importance of events. 

The rulers of the Nigerian territories had placed 
themselves nominally, for reasons which rendered a 
choice of European protectors essential to them, under 
the protection of Great Britain. By their treaties with 
the Royal Niger Company some of them had nominally 
surrendered their territory with all sovereign rights. 
Others, and these the most important, including the 
emirates of Sokoto and Gando, had agreed to enter 
into treaty with no other white nation but the British ; 
to give to Great Britain jurisdiction over all foreigners 
and non-natives in their dominions, with right to tax 
them ; to transfer to Great Britain sovereign rights in 
the riverine territories of the Niger and the Benu6 for 
a distance of ten hours' journey inland from the banks 
of the two rivers ; to confer also rights of mining and 
trading ; and generally, while reserving their own powers 
of internal rule, to subordinate themselves in external 

417 2 D 


matters to the protecting power. They had, in fact, by- 
treaty, accepted the recognised position of protected 
native states. The equivalent which was to be given 
by Great Britain was protection against external powers 
and respect for internal law and custom. On one side, 
as on the other, the maintenance of communication and 
friendly relations was provided for. 

Bornu had made no treaty with the Company, but 
by virtue of international agreement it fell within the 
territory allotted to the influence of Great Britain. 

The relations of protecting powers to protected 
states are always a question of discussion until they 
have been placed by the logic of accomplished facts 
outside the limits of theory. The exact measure of 
responsibility accepted by Great Britain in Northern 
Nigeria, at the moment of the establishment of British 
administration there, would have been difficult to define. 
The vague title of suzerain covered the position, and, 
beyond a general desire that slave-raiding should be 
suppressed and trade routes thrown open, there was 
probably no wish in any quarter in England to see a 
rapid advance towards the assumption of more defined 
duties, or of responsibilities which would involve expense. 
The public generally knew nothing of the country. Poli- 
tical necessities had imposed the creation of a military 
force for the defence, not only of the Nigerian, but of all 
West African frontiers. A small grant in aid to meet 
other administrative expenses was reluctantly added by 
the Treasury to the sum required for the maintenance 
of the West African Frontier Force. These concessions 
were made rather by respect for the judgment and the 
wishes of Mr. Chamberlain, then occupying the position 
of Secretary of State for the Colonies, than by any 
strong conviction on the part of the British Govern- 
ment that Northern Nigeria was likely to prove a very 
valuable acquisition to the Crown ; and in the absence 
of a clearly expressed interest on the part of the House 
of Commons, in the adoption of a new West African 
policy, it seemed improbable that funds would be will- 


ingly voted for any full development of the Nigerian 
Protectorate. In these circumstances the wishes of the 
Government and of the country, if they had to be con- 
densed into one phrase of instruction to the High Com- 
missioner, would perhaps best have been rendered by 
the words, "Go slow!" 

But events upon the spot refused to wait. From 
the moment in which the British flag ran up at Lokoja 
on the ist of January 1900, the High Commissioner 
and his staff found themselves taxed to the utmost 
limits of their capacity in the effort to keep pace with 
the developments which hurried them along. 

The first desire of the High Commissioner upon 
taking up the duties of his position would naturally have 
been to give effect to British treaty obligations by estab- 
lishing residents at the native courts, and proceeding 
to open friendly relations throughout the Protectorate. 
He found himself face to face with a chaos of civil and 
inter-tribal war, in which his immediate duty was to 
endeavour to ascertain the disposition towards the Gov- 
ernment which he represented of the dominant powers. 
He had also everything to learn about the actual condi- 
tion of the northern country. 

The civil staff allotted for the purpose of founding 
an administration was very small, and its numbers were 
liable to be reduced by illness and leave. The Ashantee 
War, which had broken out in another portion of West 
Africa, shortly claimed all the troops of the West African 
Frontier Force that could be spared, and the South 
African War drawing to itself all the best military acti- 
vity of the nation, rendered it difficult to obtain efficient 
officers for the remainder of the regiment. Almost single- 
handed in every administrative department, the little group 
who formed the government at Lokoja felt that they had 
every reason during the first year of the administration 
to wish for their own sakes to "go slow." 

There was the machinery of administration to estab- 
lish, of which the seat was temporarily fixed at Jebba, 
where the military headquarters had been formed. There 


was the transfer from the Royal Niger Company, the 
taking over of their assets, and the work of assigning 
to them their trading stations, to be attended to. There 
was the neighbouring country to survey, in the hopes of 
finding, within friendly territory, a more suitable and 
central position in which the permanent seat of govern- 
ment could be established, under healthier conditions 
than those offered by either Lokoja or Jebba, in the 
malarial valley of the Niger, and there were relations 
to establish with such chiefs as might prove friendly in 
the neighbourhood. While the High Commissioner and 
the civil staff undertook the formation of Administra- 
tive Departments, the duty of surveying the country 
was committed to military expeditions, which, moving in 
strength sufficient to protect themselves against disaster, 
were strictly enjoined to avoid all occasion of conflict 
with the natives, to endeavour as far as possible to win 
the confidence of the people, and to submit reports on 
the economic and geographical conditions of the country. 
Three such parties were sent out to examine the country 
lying to the north of the confluence of the Niger and 
the Benue between the river Kaduna and the eastern 
highlands of Bautchi. 

Though Fulani emirs were at the time slave-raiding 
in these districts, it was believed from information received 
that the native tribes were friendly and would be willing 
to welcome Europeans, and here it was thought likely 
that a permanent administrative centre might be formed 
in the southern part of the province of Zaria, bordering 
upon the Kaduna river. In the absence of railroads, 
necessities of transport rendered it impossible for any 
position to be taken far from a navigable river. Some 
little opposition was met by two of the survey parties, 
who were obliged to reduce some intractable pagan tribes, 
but no serious fighting occurred ; and from the geographical 
and topographical reports of the surveys, it was, after 
some discussion, decided that the site for the new seat 
of government would be most favourably placed in the 
neighbourhood of the native town of Wushishi, on the 


river Kaduna. This river, often mentioned in the ancient 
geography of the country, is one of the important rivers 
of the Protectorate, and drains the south-western water- 
shed to the Niger. It is navigable for a large portion 
of the year by steamers, and during the dry season by 
steel canoes. A small garrison was accordingly left at 
Wushishi, and relations were in the meantime cultivated 
with the southern states. The disturbed condition of 
the country was such that, pending the establishment of 
the new headquarters, no attempt was made to open 
relations with the Fulani emirates of the north, otherwise 
than by the despatch of conciliatory letters informing the 
Sultans of Gando and Sokoto of the assumption of ad- 
ministration by the British Government, and of the desire 
of Great Britain to maintain friendly relations. 

The southern provinces of Northern Nigeria, as they 
spread on the south bank of the rivers from west to east, 
are Ilorin, Kabba, Bassa, part of Muri, and part of Yola. 
Imrnediately to the north of these, and with the exception 
of Borgu, all on the northern side of the rivers, are — 
taking them again from west to east — Borgu, Kontagora, 
Southern Zaria, Nupe, Nassarawa, Bautchi, and the 
northern half of Muri and Yola ; in all, eleven provinces 
out of the seventeen of which Northern Nigeria is com- 
posed. Of these provinces three only, Borgu, Ilorin, and 
Kabba, were, in the first instance, effectively occupied by 
the British. Jebba, situated on an island in the Niger 
between the mainland of Ilorin and Kontagora, com- 
manded the southern province. 

On the northern banks the pagan populations welcomed 
the advent of the British, but the Fulani emirs of Konta- 
gora and Nupe soon removed all doubt as to their hostile 
attitude. The British occupation was scarcely effected 
before they were openly slave-raiding to the banks of 
the river. Their combined armies laid waste their own 
country from the Niger banks on the west and south to 
the eastern highlands, and to the north as far as the 
frontiers of Sokoto and Zaria. The Emir of Zaria, in 
whose territory the site chosen for the future seat of 


British government, near Wushishi, was situated, was 
nominally friendly to Great Britain, but in the beginning 
of July 1900 information reached the High Commissioner 
at Jebba that Kontagora and Nupe had planned a com- 
bined attack upon the little British garrison at Wushishi, 
and he hurried there in person with reinforcements under 
Major O'Neill. The situation became so acute that the 
population began to desert Wushishi, and in order to 
obtain supplies for the British troops and to protect the 
villages which had been friendly, it became necessary to 
erect some small forts in the neighbourhood, and to order 
Major O'Neill to patrol the country. This task being 
admirably performed, and the cavalry of Nupe and Konta- 
gora defeated in a series of brilliant skirmishes, the country 
was occupied by British troops for some twenty miles 
south and east of Wushishi. Great loss was inflicted on 
the slave-raiders in the encounters by which the occupa- 
tion was effected, and the people, siding as always with 
the party of success, crowded in thousands to the protected 
villages for safety. A situation was created in which the 
British Government already represented in the eyes of 
the natives a power strong enough to protect them against 
the scourge of the slave-raider. 

But, as a matter of fact, with the body of the troops 
still absent in Ashantee, the local administration did not 
feel itself to be in a position to sustain suspended hos- 
tilities. A British Resident had been placed at the friendly 
court of Ilorin, where, while he worked hard at the intro- 
duction of domestic reforms, he was made aware that 
emissaries from Nupe and Kontagora were endeavouring 
to induce the Emir of Ilorin to join with them in an 
attempt to overpower the British and drive the white 
anti-slaver out of the country. The position was dan- 
gerous as well as delicate, and while the small force of 
soldiers at Wushishi held their own, and even on one 
occasion, somewhat rashly, drove the enemy before 
them to the walls of the Nupe capital at Bida, the desire 
of the High Commissioner was to avoid all but strictly 
necessary fighting. The Resident at Ilorin, Mr. Carnegie, 


by whose subsequent death the administniticjii lost a most 
valuable officer, exerted all the tact and the pluck at his 
command to keep things quiet in Ilorin. 

During these months the High Commissioner at head- 
quarters was pressing forward the organisation of the 
administrative departments, creating a system for dealing 
with the freed slaves, especially the slave children who 
were liberated in the encounters with the slave-raiders, 
endeavouring to get into touch with other provinces who 
gave friendly indications along the river banks, and 
evolving the first framework of local legislation. 

The creation of a judicial system was among the 
early necessities of the administration, and in these first 
few turbulent months the seeds of future order were 
sown. By legislative proclamation, British Supreme and 
Provincial Courts were established, and the jurisdiction 
of each defined. Two Cantonment or Magistrates' Courts 
were also established in Lokoja and Jebba, and by a 
Native Courts' proclamation the establishment of Native 
Courts by British warrant was provided for in all pro- 
vinces under British jurisdiction. This measure, necessary 
for the province of Ilorin, was as yet hardly applicable 
to pagan provinces, where native institutions had not 
attained to the level of a judicial organisation. A slavery 
proclamation forbade the enslaving of any person within 
the Protectorate, and without directly touching the institu- 
tion of domestic slavery, reaffirmed, under the new ad- 
ministration, the abolition of the legal status of slavery, 
which had been proclaimed by the Niger Company after 
their Bida campaign. All children born within the Pro- 
tectorate after April i, 1901, were declared free. Laws were 
also issued against the importation of liquor and firearms. 

The busy days as they passed pressed their own 
conclusions upon the minds of the High Commissioner 
and his staff, and the theory of a future policy was 
formed under the light of daily practice. The High 
Commissioner had the advantage of including in his 
staff one or two of the servants of the Niger Com- 
pany, whose knowledge of local conditions was in- 


valuable. The Accounting Department, which he had 
used in connection with the organisation of the West 
African Frontier Force, became, with a little reorgani- 
sation, the Treasury of the new administration. The 
vessels which formed the material of a Marine Depart- 
ment were taken over from the Niger Company. The 
staff included the necessary doctors and legal officers 
for the formation of Medical and Legal Departments. 
The Public Works Department, after an unfortunate pre- 
liminary delay, during which the European staff was left 
almost without houses, was formed, under the direction 
of Mr. Eaglesome, an engineer of Indian experience, 
into a body of which the efficiency and economy soon 
became a subject of considerable local pride. The rest 
of the staff, loyally supported by a few white non- 
commissioned officers and civil subordinates, was chiefly 
composed of that fine type of young Englishmen who, 
whether as soldiers or civilians, have it in their minds 
to serve their country, to the best of their ability, in 
some adventurous capacity which will take them out of 
the common round of comfortable life. Their experi- 
ence of Africa was mostly nil, but they had the training 
of the public school, the army, and the university, which 
fits men equally for the assumption of responsibility and 
for loyal subordination to authority. They were ready 
to go anywhere and to do anything, and with the few 
inevitable exceptions, who were rapidly weeded out, repre- 
sented, in the eyes of the High Commissioner, the very 
best stuff of which the English nation is made. 

He had in them the instruments that he wanted, and 
he worked them without mercy, as hard as he worked him- 
self. The staff was short-handed. There was three men's 
work for every man to do, and during the initial stage 
of the establishment of British authority in the country, 
it is not too much to say that the whole of the staff, 
civil as well as military, gave themselves with entire 
devotion to their task. There was little of alleviation 
or of pleasure in the early conditions. Miserable houses, 
bad food, a malarial climate, and ceaseless responsibility. 


formed the accompaniment of their daily existence. With 
the inveterate determination of Englishmen to have 
some form of sport, a polo ground was among the ear- 
liest of the public institutions established by the soldiers 
at headquarters. But it was the work itself which fur- 
nished the real attraction of the life, and had the small 
body of Europeans who formed the first British staff 
been polled for their opinions, there would not probably 
have been found one who wished to turn back from the 
task which grew day by day under their hands. 

In view of the pessimism which appears in some 
quarters to be gaining ground with regard to the capacities 
of the English race, I may perhaps without indiscretion 
quote a passage from one of the latest of my husband's 
despatches, which shows at least how in his opinion the 
staff working under him have sustained the promise of the 
first year's performance. " There are no words of praise," 
he writes under date of August 1905, "that I can find too 
strong to describe the indefatigable efforts and the enthu- 
siasm for their task which has been shown by the Political 
Staff By their ceaseless devotion to duty they have not 
only increased the revenue in the way that I have shown, 
but have brought order, peace, and security out of chaos, 
have established an effective judicial system, and have 
substituted progress and development for misrule and 
stagnation." This is satisfactory reading for those who 
doubt whether the Englishmen of to-day are capable of 
the same achievements as their fathers, and it must be 
counted as not the least among the advantages of the 
colonial development of the Empire that by its very 
roughness it gives opportunity for the exercise in indi- 
viduals of qualities which under less stimulating circum- 
stances might perhaps lie dormant through the whole 
course of a too easy life. The names, alas, of more than 
one of the first small Nigerian group are engraved now 
upon tombstones on that border of the Empire which 
they helped to make. They live in the memory of good 
service done, and their work accomplished is, as they 
would have wished it to be, their monument. 




At the end of December 1900 the return of the troops 
from Ashantee reheved the position of some of its 

The first thing- to be done was evidently to bring 
hostiHties with Kontagora and Nupe to an end. An 
expedition in force was immediately organised, which 
marched against the combined armies of the emirs, and 
was entirely successful. The town of Kontagora was 
captured, and the emir barely effected his escape, flying 
with a few followers to the north. It was observed 
that on their march to Kontagora the troops passed 
through an absolutely depopulated country. The Emir 
of Kontagora was one of the worst examples of Fulani 
chiefs who raided the peasantry of their own provinces 
for slaves. This emir, at a later period, was captured 
by the British, and when remonstrated with by the 
High Commissioner, and urged to abjure slave-raiding 
and to accept British protection, he replied with graphic 
force: "Can you stop a cat from mousing? When I 
die I shall be found with a slave in my mouth." His 
downfall was received by the population of the province 
with great joy, and the event was made the occasion of 
a public conciliatory move towards the Emir of Sokoto, 
who, as suzerain of Kontagora, was invited by the High 
Commissioner to nominate a successor to the deposed 
Ibrahim. Sokoto did not respond, and for some time 
the throne of Kontagora remained empty. 

In Nupe, where the result of British victories was 

equally complete, the High Commissioner took his stand 



upon the condition of affairs created by the prcvi<jus 
victory of the Company. The emir driven out by them 
had returned, as has been already mentioned, and ousting 
the heir placed upon the throne by the Company, had 
ever since maintained a condition of hostility to the 
British. This emir, Abu Bekri, now fled, like his col- 
league of Kontagora, to the north. The Hi_L;h Com- 
missioner did not call upon Gando, to whom Nupe was 
tributary, to nominate his successor, but himself took 
the initiative and reinstated the emir selected by the 
Company upon the throne. 

But if the High Commissioner was desirous that the 
lesson of the previous war should not be lost upon the 
native dynasty of Nupe, he drew also his own moral 
from the experience. On this occasion there was to 
be no more of conquest without permanent assertion of 
British influence. 

The reinstatement of the ousted Emir of Nupe was 
made the opportunity of a preliminary declaration of 
British policy. It was pointed out to the people of 
Nupe and Kontagora that two of the most powerful 
Fulani emirs had been deposed, because, after repeated 
warnings, they would not desist from laying waste the 
whole country and carrying off the people as slaves. At 
the same time no looting and no destruction of the 
country had been permitted by British troops. Both the 
cities which were the Fulani capitals had been preserved, 
and the loss of life had been confined entirely to the 
Fulani cavalry employed as slave-raiders. The peaceful 
populations had in no case suffered from British arms. 
Nevertheless, though individual emirs had been deposed, 
it was not the intention of the Government to overthrow 
Fulani rule as such, and to substitute rulers of another 
race. On the contrary, it was the intention of the British 
Government to maintain existing institutions, including 
the rule of the Fulani, established now for a hundred 
years, but to insist on such reforms as should restore 
the administration of the country to its ancient purity. 


and bring its customs into conformity with the principles 
of justice and humanity. 

The emir-elect of Nupe, upon the suitability of whose 
appointment the opinion of the native council was pre- 
viously taken, having accepted British conditions, was for- 
mally installed at Bida, before a full parade of British troops 
and a great assemblage of his own people, in February 
of 1 90 1. He has since — under the guidance at first of 
Major Burdon, one of the officers transferred from the 
service of the Niger Company, and specially selected 
for the duties of first Resident of Nupe, because of his 
known sympathies with the Fulani people — acted with 
the utmost loyalty towards the British Government. 
Nupe has prospered exceedingly under the new system, 
and the emir's sons are now being educated at a school 
established in Bida by the Church Missionary Society, 
where they are learning, at their father's keenly expressed 
desire, to speak English. 

As a result of the subjugation of Kontagora and Bida 
their great organised slave-raids were brought to an end, 
the friendship of Zaria was confirmed, and there was 
a pacification of the neighbouring pagan tribes. Other 
provinces along the river bank indicated their readiness 
to open trade routes, and to accept British Residents, 
with the garrison which the presence of a Resident im- 
plied ; and though the limited numbers of the British 
staff rendered it impossible immediately to take full 
advantage of these favourable dispositions, the High 
Commissioner was able to report by the end of the 
financial year 1 900-1 901 that the British Government 
was in effective possession of the eight provinces of Borgu, 
Ilorin, Kabba, Kontagora, Nupe, Zaria, Nassarawa, and 

Throughout these provinces the Government endeav- 
oured as far as possible to bring into operation the policy 
which it had declared of utilising and working through 
the native chiefs, while it insisted upon their observance 
of the fundamental laws of humanity and justice. Resi- 


dents were appointed whose primary duty it was to 
promote this poHcy by the estabhshment of native courts 
administering restored native laws, but in which bribery 
and extortion and inhuman punishment were to be 
abolished. Provincial courts, in which the British Resi- 
dent acted as magistrate, were instituted in each province 
to deal with non-natives and to enforce the laws of the 
Protectorate, especially those dealing with slave-raiding, 
slave-trading, importation of liquor and firearms, and ex- 
tortion from the people by terrorism and a false use of 
the name of the Government, which was among natives 
one of the most frequent and at the same time mis- 
chievous offences with which the British administration 
had to deal. The authority of the emir was supported 
by an insistence on the part of the British administration 
that lawful tribute, with the exception of that taken in 
slaves, should be paid. 

Thus, by the beginning of 1901, the south-western 
portion of the Protectorate had frankly accepted British 
rule. The turbulent Fulani emirates, which had been 
disposed to challenge it in that district, had been con- 
quered, and while the sovereign rights of Great Britain 
had in this way been placed on a basis which every 
native could understand, the occasion had been made to 
serve as a great public illustration of the intended policy 
of the British Government to disturb as little as possible 
the existing institutions of the country. The pacification 
of the belt of country between the Niger and the eastern 
highlands had been effected, and the only difference which 
had become markedly apparent to native eyes from the 
change of administration, was that henceforward pagans 
as well as Mohammedans were to live in the enjoyment 
of human rights. As a sign of this, slave-raiding had 
already been brought to an end in the territory under 
British rule. 

Correspondingly with the cessation of slave-raiding 
trade routes had begun to open themselves through 
the country. While the operations of the slave-raiding 


Emirs of Kontagora and Nupe remained unrestricted, 
trade was of course impossible in the districts over which 
their armies ranged, for it was the practice of the pagans 
to retahate upon the slave-raiders by attacking all small 
caravans. After the emirs had been brought into 
obedience and slave-raiding stopped, it became the duty 
of the British administration to put down with an equally 
firm hand the habits of brigandage of the pagan tribes. 
For this purpose it was occasionally necessary to apply 
force, but even in the early stages of the administration 
it was found that capable officers did more towards effect- 
ing the pacification of the country by getting into touch 
with the people, than could be effected by many punitive 
expeditions, and the High Commissioner looked forward 
to superseding military occupation at an early date by 
an efficient system of civil police. Not only had the 
trade routes to the south from Kano and Zaria been 
rendered unsafe by the slave- raiding of Nupe and Kon- 
tagora and the retaliation of the pagan tribes ; it was 
also found that the caravan tolls extorted by the southern 
emirs had been of the most excessive and onerous de- 
scription. By stopping the slave-raiding of the Fulani, 
keeping the pagans in order, and lessening the tolls, the 
roads on the western side of the Protectorate were ren- 
dered safer and more attractive, and trade began to im- 
prove. New stations for European trade were opened 
by the Niger Company on the Kaduna, and from Borgu 
to Bautchi the increase in local trade was even in the 
first year remarkable. 

But while this condition of things in the eight pro- 
vinces which had been occupied was satisfactory, the 
inadequacy of the numbers of the British staff to deal 
with the rising tide of work thrown upon the adminis- 
tration became ever more apparent. With the removal in 
some districts of Fulani rule each petty village began to 
claim its ancient land, and to show disposition to raid its 
neighbours in support of its claim. The need of a survey 
and land settlement was urgent. More Residents were 


wanted to maintain the moral influence acquired in the 
provinces. Police and revenue officers were also needed. 
The housing of Europeans and the erection of public 
offices in the new settlement, of which the site was 
selected at a spot called Zungeru, within ten miles of 
Wushishi, on open ground rising from the Kaduna, had 
become a matter of some importance, and for the opening 
year of 1901-1902 the necessity of some increase in the 
estimates to provide for these pressing requirements was 

The continuance of the South African War still gave 
no relief to the exchequer at home. The inclination of 
the public was still such as could only be interpreted by 
the Government as a desire to "go slow" in West Africa, 
and still affairs upon the spot continued to urge the 
necessity for the assertion of British rule. 

Five more provinces were in a condition in which 
the danger of abstaining from interference was greater 
than the inconvenience of interferincr. 

British Residents had been accepted — though not 
enthusiastically — by the governing power in Nassarawa, 
the province bordering eastward upon Nupe, which was 
a sub-emirate of the nominally friendly Zaria, and was 
very largely occupied by pagan tribes. In Muri too, a 
little farther along the Benue, where pagans were glad to 
be protected, British stations had been formed. But the 
Fulani Emirs of Bautchi and Yola in the east, believing 
themselves strong enough to defy the power of Great 
Britain, and rendered only more antagonistic by the fate of 
Kontagora and Nupe, and by the effectual British protec- 
tion given to the pagans of Muri and Nassarawa, were creat- 
ing a situation which became every day more difficult. 

The Emir of Yola, a well-educated Fulani and reli- 
gious fanatic, ordered the representatives of the Niger 
Company, notwithstanding treaty rights to the con- 
trary, to haul down their flag and close their trading 
station on the river. In Bautchi the important town of 
Guarram was destroyed, and the population carried into 


slavery by slave-raiders acting under the instructions of 
the emir. Both emirs traded openly in slaves, which 
they imported from German territory and sent through 
the Haussa States, while trade routes for legitimate 
commerce were closed. The pagans of the river looked 
from its eastern to its western end, waiting to see 
whether the protection of the British Government was 
strong enough to be effective in these circumstances. It 
was essential, if we were to retain the respect of the 
pagan peoples, to check the wholesale depopulation of 
their territory. It was also necessary to protect the 
legitimate rights of British traders at Yola. 

A military expedition was therefore decided upon, 
and was sent against Yola in September of 1901, under 
the command of Colonel Morland. It was successful, 
and though some obstinate resistance was encountered, 
the capital was taken. The emir, who preferred exile 
to capitulation, took refuge in flight. The province was 
brought under British administration, and an emir ap- 
pointed on conditions similar to those of Nupe. 

In the two provinces of Bornu the situation which 
called for British intervention was of a wholly different 
order, but the claims for attention which it put forward 
were perhaps even more imperative than those of the 
southern states, for they involved difficulties with a 
European neighbour, which were, of all others, those 
which it was desirable to avoid. 

It has been mentioned that in Bornu the conqueror 
Rabbeh was overthrown and killed by the French in 1900, 
and a puppet sovereign of Bornu appointed. Rabbeh's 
son and successor, Fad-el-Allah, appealed to the British 
for redress and protection, and offered to obey the orders 
of the British Government. The question arose whether 
he, who was a usurper, should be recognised and supported 
in Bornu, or whether the lawful sovereign overthrown by 
his father should be restored. 

While the question was under consideration in 1901, 
the French took the matter into their own hands, and, 


marching into British territory, defeated and killed 
Fad-el-Allah at Gujba, 150 miles inside the British 

Such a violation of territory accentuated the neces- 
sity of asserting effective control of the border province, 
and a small expedition was accordingly sent into Bornu at 
the end of 1901 to make full inquiry into the events which 
had taken place, and to ascertain whether there was truth 
in the report that the French had carried natives of the 
British Protectorate into captivity across the frontier, and 
were levying tribute in British protected villages. On further 
information received it was decided to occupy Bornu. 

The route to Bornu lies through Bautchi, where the 
massacre of Guarram by the emir was still unpunished. 
Bautchi was at this time the centre of the slave trade, 
and slaves were openly sold in the market of its prin- 
cipal town. The emir had shown himself antagonistic to 
British government, and it was considered probable that 
he might oppose the troops of the Protectorate. The ex- 
pedition destined ultimately for the occupation of Bornu 
was sent in force under the personal command of Colonel 
Morland in February of 1902. Preparations which had 
been made in Bautchi to oppose its advance were aban- 
doned when its strength was known. 

The Emir?:of Bautchi proving quite intractable, was, 
however, deposed. The council of notables, in whom, 
according to native custom, the election of emirs is vested, 
was summoned, and elected his heir. The emir took 
the usual refuge in flight, and his heir was duly appointed 
under the same conditions as the Emirs of Nupe, Yola, 
and Kontagora, to which last-named emirate the British 
Government had, on the continued refusal of Sokoto to 
respond to the invitation to exercise his function as 
suzerain, nominated a temporary chief. 

Thus Bautchi also was brought under British adminis- 
tration, and as, in every letter of appointment, the 
sovereignty of the British Crown was asserted, and in 
every installation oath was accepted by the appointed 

2 E 


emir, British sovereignty was accepted from Borgu to 

A British Resident and a garrison were placed in the 
capital of Bautchi, and it may be said here that the 
newly appointed emir proving loyal to his engagements, 
the Resident was able by June of 1902 to report that 
the slave trade was practically abolished in Bautchi as 
a recognised practice. Underhand slave dealing still 
continues to some slight extent, and constitutes one of 
the principal offences with which the provincial courts 
have to deal. 

As was usual after the suppression of the slave-raider, 
the retaliation of the raided had to be dealt with, and 
there was some fighting with turbulent pagan tribes who 
rendered the road unsafe. They were successfully sub- 
dued, and the expedition continued its march towards 
Bornu. A little later the ex-Emir of Bautchi, becoming 
a centre of intrigue and trouble, was caught and sent 
into honourable exile in Ilorin, where he lived under the 
charge of the Emir and Resident. 

Between Bautchi and Gujba there lay the territory of 
Gombe, which had been for some years in the possession 
of a brave fanatic of the name of Jibrella, who declared 
himself to be the Mahdi, and who had for some years 
maintained himself victoriously against all neighbours. 
On the news of the approach of the British expedition 
he took the initiative and attacked. His troops charged 
the British force most gallantly, but they were defeated 
and pursued for two days, when Lieutenant Dyer effected 
the capture of the Mahdi himself. Jibrella, who was a 
white-haired old man already feeble with age, was sent 
as a prisoner to Lokoja, where he was treated with 
the consideration due to his distinction as a soldier and 
a priest. The Gombe country, which had once formed 
a portion of the Bautchi province, was, like Bautchi, 
brought under British administration, and the expedition 
pressed on to Gujba in Bornu, leaving the road all 
British behind it. 


No further opposition was encountered in Bornu. A 

company was left at Gujba, and Colonel Morland, with the 

rest of his force, proceeded to Maidugeri. Here it was 

found that the report of a French expedition into British 

territory was correct. On the death of Rabbeh in 1900 

Fad-el-Allah, his son, had defied the French, who, after 

some fighting, had retired across the boundary to their 

headquarters at Dikwa, in what is now German territory. 

They were again attacked by Fad-el-Allah, and they had 

then pursued him as far as Gujba in British territory, 

defeated, and killed him. They had raised levies and 

caravans for this raid in British territory. A great 

number of prisoners and much loot were taken at Gujba, 

and the prisoners were made to carry the loot and 

baggage. In return for delivering the lawful Sultan of 

Bornu from Fad-el-Allah the French imposed upon the 

Sultan a war indemnity of $71,000, in addition to $9000 

already paid by his elder brother, who had been deported 

to the east side of Chad. The sum was to be collected 

by tribute from the villages, and till it could be collected 

the Sultan was kept prisoner by the French at Dikwa. 

The already impoverished country, desolated by war and 

counter-war, was ground to the lowest depths by this 


The Sultan of Bornu was informed in his internment 
at Dikwa that the British Government would recognise 
him as sovereign if he liked to return, and in the mean- 
time the collection of French tribute was stopped. The 
Sultan, or Shehu (as the Sultans of Bornu are called), 
readily accepted British proposals, and returned to occupy 
his throne under British protection, accepting the usual 
conditions. A garrison was placed at Maidugeri, and 
Residents appointed to Bornu. By this action an area 
of some 60,000 square miles was brought under adminis- 
trative control. 

On the return of the expedition some unruly pagan 
tribes of the Yola province were subdued, and prevented 
from harassing peaceful traders upon the trade routes. 


In the province of Nassarawa, which lies upon the 
north bank of the Benue between Nupe and Bautchi, a 
great deal of trouble had been caused by Fulani raiders, 
of whom the headquarters were at a town called Abuja. 
The trade routes in the western part of the province 
were much interrupted by the lawless brigandage of 
Abuja, and in the summer of 1902 an expedition was 
sent which reduced Abuja to obedience. A new king was 
placed upon the throne, who agreed to observe British 
laws, and the expedition marched back through the dis- 
turbed belt, reducing such lawlessness as it encountered. 
But at Keffi, the headquarters of the province, where 
a British Resident was already established, slave-raiding 
was being openly carried on by the Magaji or native 
commander-in-chief, who had been appointed by the 
Emir of Zaria. This officer, much stronger than the 
local emir, defied authority and refused to submit to the 
representations of the British Resident. There came a 
day when the Resident, Captain Maloney, called upon the 
Magaji to appear and answer for his conduct before the 
emir. The Magaji refused to come. The British Resi- 
dent, after an unavailing attempt had been made by the 
Assistant Resident to bring the Magaji to reason, issued 
an order for the troops to be called out, and the Magaji, 
rushing from his house, murdered the British Resident 
with his own hand before troops could reach the spot. 

The Magaji was, of course, the leader of a rebellious 
party in Keffi. After the murder of Captain Maloney he 
and his followers immediately fled. They were pursued 
by British troops to the northern borders of the province, 
where, taking refuge in Zaria, they were presently passed 
on in safety to Kano, still outside the limit of British 
administration. At Kano the Magaji was received with 
much honour by the emir, who gave him presents and 
assigned him a house, placing him always on his right 
hand when he rode. 

In March 1902 a Resident had been placed with Zaria, 
which was nominally friendly. But the Emir of Zaria was 


very unsatisfactory. Not only did he continue slave- 
raiding and other lawless proceedings, but he continued 
them in the name of the British Government, wishing at 
the same time to profit by the strength of that Govern- 
ment, and to make it detested. More than once, in his 
armed forays, his people came into contact with Britisli 
patrols. He was known to be intriguing with Kano. 
It had even been debated between them whether he 
should surprise and overpower the British garrison. He 
was suspected of having attempted to poison the Resi- 
dent. Under these circumstances the Resident deter- 
mined to arrest him and bring him to Zungeru. It was 
done, the council of chiefs willingly surrendering him, 
for he was much detested in Zaria. He was kept in 
nominal confinement at Wushishi, and one of his prin- 
cipal officers administered the Government in his absence. 
This man, the Galadima, worked loyally with the British 



The situation was such that all eyes were now turned 
to the north. Sokoto was the recognised religious and 
political head of Haussaland. All the Fulani emirates 
which were not subject to Gando took their investiture 
from him. The British High Commissioner, anxious to 
interfere, according to the terms of the British treaties, 
as little as possible with Mussulman law and custom, 
had done what he could in the circumstances to con- 
ciliate Sokoto and Gando. But the British treaties did 
not cover a position in which the leading emirates of 
the south should initiate an attack upon the British 
Administration, as in the case of Kontagora and Nupe, 
or should repudiate their agreements, raid British pro- 
tected natives for slaves, and drive British traders out 
of their dominions, as in the case of Yola and Bautchi. 
These acts on the part of the southern emirates had 
created a new position. From the Niger to Bornu 
British sovereignty had been imposed by right, not of 
treaty, but of conquest, and in consequence of the 
refusal of Sokoto to exercise the functions of imme- 
diate suzerainty, in which Great Britain would willingly 
have maintained him, by nominating successors to the 
deposed emirs, all the emirs of the southern emirates 
now held their investiture from Great Britain. But 
the force of tradition dies hard, and so long as Sokoto 
existed, and had not signified his assent to the appoint- 
ment of the Fulani rulers, there was for them an un- 
comfortable sense of irregularity in their position. The 

more loyally they worked with the British Government 



the less were they Hkely to please Sokoto, and in the 
lower ranks the offence of working loyally with a 
British-appointed emir was scarcely likely to be less 
fatal, in the event of Sokoto ever regaining the upper 
hand, than to have worked with the British themselves. 

The question of the future turned upon whether 
Great Britain or Sokoto were to be the permanent head 
of Haussaland. The Haussas have a proverb, "Only by 
fighting can the better man be found out " ; and the feel- 
ing was universal that a trial of strength would have to 
take place between the new power of the white man 
and the old power of the Fulani. Until it was decided 
which of the two was the stronger, no waverer knew 
on which side to cast in his lot. The result of con- 
ciliation on the part of the British had been vain. A 
letter, couched in friendly terms, which was sent to 
Sokoto in 1900 to announce the establishment of the 
British Administration on the river, was not answered, 
and the messenger who bore it was treated with in- 
dignity. The request made in 1901 that Sokoto would 
nominate the successor to the deposed Emir of Konta- 
gora, was not complied with, and in May of 1902 a 
letter was addressed by Sokoto to the British High 
Commissioner, couched in the following terms : "I do 
not consent that any one from you should ever dwell 
with us. I will never agree with you ; I will have 
nothing ever to do with you. Between us and you 
there are no dealings, except as between Mussulmans 
and Unbelievers — war as God Almighty has enjoined 
upon us. There is no power or strength save in God 
on high." 

Kano, which was the strong place of Haussaland, 
possessing an organised army and a well-fortified town, 
gave evidence of its hearty support of the antagonistic 
attitude of Sokoto. While it was known throughout 
the Protectorate that the less important emirates of the 
south had been wholly unable to stand before British 
power, it was very generally believed by the natives 


that Kano would prove impregnable, and that Fulani 
rule would be victoriously maintained. 

This being the condition of affairs, it became 
evident that, the sooner the issue was decided, the 
sooner would peace and progress become possible in 
the Nigerian territories. It was not without a profound 
sense of the responsibility attaching to British action at 
a juncture when all eyes, pagan and Mohammedan alike, 
through the vast congeries of native states, were turned 
upon the little knot of white men, by this time per- 
manently established in the British headquarters at 
Zungeru, that the High Commissioner determined to 
urge upon the authorities at home the necessity for 
striking one clear and decided blow before the resist- 
ance to British authority had had time to gain weight 
and force by preparation and a sustained belief in its 
own chances of conquest. 

The highest authority of Haussaland had repudiated 
the position nominally established by treaty. He had 
declared that between him and Great Britain there 
could be nothing but war. The alternative for the 
British Administration was either to take up the chal- 
lenge thrown, or to abandon the work of pacification 
and civilisation upon which it had entered in Haussa- 
land. The treaty ground of the British position having 
been cut from under our feet, it was necessary either to 
leave the country, to abandon those who had already 
trusted to our protection, and to throw away in the 
eyes of Europe all the ground taken by successive in- 
ternational agreements, or to face the position frankly, 
and base our future supremacy in the Protectorate upon 
the indisputable argument of conquest. 

In the case of the southern emirates this had 
already been done. In Kontagora, Nupe, Bautchi, 
Yola, and Nassawara, we had already been welcomed 
by the subject populations as the conquerors of their 
conqueror. In every emirate the new ruler had been 
appointed by the British Government, and had accepted 


office on British conditions. In the Empire of Bornu the 
position was even more strongly emphasised. There, 
in fulfilHng the obhgations of an international agree- 
ment, British arms had restored the ancient dynasty of 
the country, and the Sultan had accepted his throne as 
a gift from the sovereign of Great Britain. The emirs 
of the southern emirates were, in spite of their doubts 
as to the future, working loyally with the British 
Government. British Residents were established at their 
courts, a British garrison in the capital of every emirate 
acted as an efficient body of police, not to overawe 
the local ruler, but to give effect to edicts issued by 
him in the interests of civilisation. Slave-raiding, for- 
bidden in the territories of every ruler placed on the 
throne under British protection, was becoming a practice 
of the past ; taxes were being peaceably and regularly 
collected. Trade routes, as has been seen, were daily 
opening. But the whole foundation of this progress 
was the belief of the native in British strength. The 
position remained uncertain till this was placed beyond 
a doubt. 

So fully was this situation appreciated that symptoms 
of unrest and expectancy were making themselves gene- 
rally felt when the incident occurred in the middle of 1902 
of the murder of the British Resident at Keffi, and the 
escape of his murderer to the court of Kano. Kano re- 
presented the principal military power of the northern 
states, and it was well understood that Kano was the 
power with which the British strength would be first 
seriously measured. The comment of the Emir of Kano 
upon the murder of the British Resident represented a 
very general feeling. "If the little town of Keffi could 
do so much," he is reported to have said, " what could 
not Kano do ? " 

Towards the end of November 1902, the Emir of 
Kano went so far as to march, without any declaration 
of war, against the British garrison of Zaria. His armies 
turned back on the news reaching them of the death of 


the Sultan of Sokoto, and also, as was subsequently 
ascertained, on the refusal of the Emir of Katsena to 
join in the policy of war. It became necessary to 
strengthen the garrison of Zaria, of which province the 
emir remained a prisoner in British hands. From this 
moment it was known that war between Kano and the 
white men was inevitable. 

In all these circumstances there was one consideration 
which was of first importance in the minds of the British 
authorities. It was that, in fighting the Fulani, we were 
fighting not with the people of Haussaland, but with 
rulers whose misconduct, notwithstanding certain splendid 
aptitudes for rule, had rendered them hateful to the bulk 
of the population. In imposing conditions upon their 
administration, and in transferring to ourselves the suzer- 
ainty which they had acquired only by right of compara- 
tively recent conquest, we believed ourselves to carry with 
us the wishes of the numerous Haussa and pagan peoples 
who make up the body of the inhabitants of the Pro- 
tectorate. The strength of the northern states was not 
to be despised, for should their arms obtain a first success, 
the surrounding populations would of necessity declare 
in favour of those who appeared likely to affirm them- 
selves in the position of supremacy. But it was a strength 
which, notwithstanding its armed appearance, had none 
of that permanent resisting power which is drawn from 
the love of a people for its liberty, its territory, and its 
institutions. What strength there was in such patriotic 
sentiment was upon the British side. 

The expeditionary force which was at the disposal 
of the High Commissioner consisted of about looo rank 
and file and 50 Europeans, including the garrison of 
Zaria. It appeared to be sufficient for the purpose, and 
after very careful preparation the bulk of it was concen- 
trated at Zaria in January of 1903. On January 29th 
the order to advance was given, and a force consisting 
of 24 officers, 2 medical officers, 12 British non-com- 
missioned officers, and 722 rank and file, with 4 guns 


and 4 Maxims, left Zaria under the command of 
Colonel Morland. Captain Abadie, the Resident of Zaria, 
another of those members of the early staff whom, to 
the sorrow of all his comrades, death has since claimed, 
accompanied the force as Political Officer. 

The first opposition was encountered at a walled 
town eight miles within the Kano frontier, where the 
inhabitants, after a parley with the Political Officer, said 
that they were obliged to resist, under a threat of 
death from the Emir of Kano to any one who should 
open the gates. A British shell blew in the gate, 
and the question of resistance was determined. The 
town was not looted or injured, and non-combatants 
were unharmed. A series of newly fortified towns, all 
instructed by the emir to fight, were expected to hold 
the approaches to Kano. After this first experience 
the garrisons abandoned them, and fled without fighting to 
Kano. The inhabitants remained quietly in the towns, 
and brought ample supplies for the British troops, which 
were paid for as in time of peace. The troops were 
kept within strict discipline. No looting and no disorder 
was allowed. The populace, knowing already by report 
the practice of the British on similar occasions, showed 
no alarm. 

The force, therefore, reached Kano unopposed. The 
wall of the town, of which the circumference was eleven 
miles, was forty feet thick at the base, and from thirty to 
fifty feet high. It was loopholed, and strengthened in 
front by a double ditch. Its thirteen gates had been 
lately rebuilt, and some of them were designed in a 
re-entrant angle, so that access to them was enfiladed by 
fire from the walls on either side, while the ditch was full 
of live thorns, and very deep. The fortifications were 
such that, had there been any determined resistance on 
the part of the defenders, the town might have stood an 
almost interminable siege. 

The event justified the British belief that in fighting 
the Fulani they had the wishes of the people of Haussa- 


land on their side. The town made practically no 
defence. There was some fairly well-directed firing 
from behind the walls, but, a small breach having been 
effected, an assault was ordered, and the defenders fled 
as soon as the heads of the storming party appeared in 
the gap. A considerable loss was inflicted upon the 
enemy outside the walls when the British force en- 
deavoured to cut off their retreat. As they fied they 
suffered severely. The town itself, which occupied only 
a small part of the great area enclosed by the walls, 
was entered unopposed. The inhabitants exhibited no 
concern. No disorder on the part of the soldiers was 
permitted. Captain Abadie immediately summoned the 
fourteen headmen of the principal quarters of the town, 
and made them responsible for the maintenance of order 
in their districts. A rate of exchange was fixed between 
the local cowries and British silver, with which the 
troops paid for all they purchased. The slave-market 
closed itself Otherwise the life of the town pursued 
its usual course. Within three days the great market 
showed its usual activity, and fully equipped caravans 
started for the south and arrived from the north and 
east as though the country were in perfect peace. 

The capture of Kano took place on February 3. The 
High Commissioner, travelling up from Zungeru to Kano 
for the purpose of dealing at once with this new develop- 
ment of the political situation, traversed a few days 
later the country over which the troops had marched, 
and was able to write under date of February 8 : 
" It is a striking comment on the situation here that, 
although fighting is going on between the British and 
the Fulani rulers of a district close by, the road I am 
traversing is as safe as Piccadilly. I met to-day 
caravans which must have numbered scores of loaded 
donkeys, ponies, and oxen, and fiocks of sheep for sale 
down south which must have numbered many hundreds 
These are being taken from Kano itself, and the traders 
I met saluted with smiles and unmistakable goodwill. 


Women travel alone along the road, and men are all 
unarmed, except a few nomad herdsmen who carry the 
inevitable spear. The headmen of the villages bring 
presents of food." 

It was soon ascertained that the emir had not him- 
self directed the defence and surrender of Kano. He 
had removed a month previously to Sokoto, taking with 
him a considerable force of soldiery and all members of 
the ruling dynasty who could by any possibility be chosen 
to supersede him. The defence of the town had been 
left to two trusted slaves. 

He now returned towards Kano with the whole body 
of his army, but there was a fatal division in his councils. 
One of his brothers, known as the Wombai, disapproved 
of the new policy and refused to fight. The Wombai 
influenced a large part of the army, which he separated 
from the body of the troops, and drew off upon a different 
road. In presence of the difference of opinion between 
his chiefs, the emir adopted a course of conduct which 
ensured defeat. He placed the loyal portion of the army 
under the command of his Vizier or Waziri, and himself 
fled northwards in disguise towards the French frontier. 
On the following day his army was encountered by 
British troops marching out to meet it, about 100 miles 
from Kano, and, after a resistance which did honour to 
the courage of its leaders in the circumstances in which 
they fought, and gave occasion for the display of dis- 
tinguished gallantry on the part of three young British 
officers — Captains Wright and Wells and Captain Porter ; 
the first two in sustaining the shock of attack by an 
overwhelming force of the Kano army, and the third in 
leading a decisive charge — the native forces were com- 
pletely defeated. 

The deciding actions took place on February 25th 
and 26th. On the 4th of March the Wombai, with that 
portion of the army which he commanded, and many 
others who had joined themselves to him, signified to the 
High Commissioner, who had now taken up his quarters 


in Kano, their desire of surrendering to the British. 
Having been told that they would be honourably received, 
they accepted the condition of returning to Kano and 
delivering all firearms, bows and arrows, into British 
hands. They were required to enter by one gate, where 
a guard was stationed to take the arms, and it was 
estimated that about 2500 horsemen and a total of at 
least 10,000 persons entered by the gate on this occasion. 
The Wombai, having expressed his desire to work loyally 
with the British Government, was provisionally placed in 
charge of the town, with a prospect of being appointed 
emir after trial, under conditions which he showed him- 
self cordially willing to accept. 

Immediately on the fall of Kano the surrounding 
towns had sent in to submit to the British, and to express 
their wish for friendship, and it was significant that this 
had been done even while their Fulani chiefs with an 
armed Fulani following were absent in the army of the 
emir. The defeat of the emir's forces and the submis- 
sion of the Wombai confirmed these towns in their 
acceptance of British rule, and it was explained to all 
that it formed no part of British policy to upset or to 
interfere with existing institutions in so far as they con- 
formed to laws of justice and humanity. Conciliatory 
letters also were sent to the Sultans of Katsena and 
Sokoto, explaining that Great Britain had no quarrel 
with them, nor any desire to fight, provided they 
would receive the British in peace and carry out the 
conditions under which Great Britain was prepared to 
confirm them in their positions. The letters conveyed 
emphatic assurance that their religion would not be 
interfered with. Katsena immediately replied that he 
had no desire for war, and would willingly accept the 
British conditions. 

No reply being received to the letter which was sent 
to Sokoto, the British force advanced westward. It was 
the season of the Harmatan wind ; the heat in the middle 
of the day was terrific, rendering the stones so hot that 


the horses could hardly tread upon them, and the dry 
wind blew like the breath of a furnace, parching the 
throats of the men. The water of the country during 
the greater part of the march was impregnated with salts 
of soda and potash, and increased, instead of allaying 
thirst. At night the temperature suddenly fell, and the 
cold became so sharp that the native troops suffered 
severely from pneumonia and lung diseases. At a place 
called Shagali the force turned southwards to effect a 
junction with some British troops which had been 
employed on escort duty for French convoys, and for 
the Boundary Commission near Argungu. Here a letter 
was received from the Emir of Gando, to whom also 
conciliatory messages had been sent, making his submis- 
sion. Sokoto alone remained obdurate, and the column, 
somewhat depleted by the hardships of the march, but 
reinforced by the troops from Argungu, marched upon 
the town. On the 15th of March a battle took place, in 
which the Sokoto troops were defeated and put to flight. 

In the meantime the High Commissioner, anxious as 
before to be on the spot for the purpose of arranging 
political conditions as soon as the military blow should 
have been delivered, left Kano on March 7, accom- 
panied by Captain Abadie as Political Officer, and an 
escort of seventy Yorubas under a white subaltern, with 
the intention of making his way by forced marches in 
the rear of the troops towards Sokoto. The British 
force had about twelve days' start of him ; but, in 
consequence of a misunderstanding when it turned 
southward on its approach to Sokoto, the road was 
left undefended. The High Commissioner's party had 
therefore the interesting experience of marching six 
Europeans strong, without any mounted men to act as 
scouts, through an enemy's country full of populous 
walled towns, owning allegiance to the sovereign upon 
whose capital the body of the British force was ad- 
vancing. The distance from Kano to Sokoto was about 
250 miles. The road for the greater part of the way 


lay along the twelfth parallel of latitude, and the party- 
moved on at the rate of about twenty-eight miles a 
day. As they drew near to Sokoto as many as four 
and five walled towns were passed on each day. They 
were generally moated, and the walls were sometimes a 
mile long on each face. Fortunately the inhabitants 
showed themselves quite friendly, and, with no worse 
adventure than tolerably severe discomfort, the High 
Commissioner arrived at Sokoto on the 19th of March 
in time to see, as he came over some rising ground, a 
dark crowd streaming towards the British camp, com- 
posed, he was informed, of the principal notables of the 
town coming to make their formal submission to the 
British. He received in person the submission of the 
Waziri and principal chiefs of Sokoto. The emir, 
like the Emir of Kano, had fled. 

The trial of strength had come and gone. The 
Fulani emirates were in our hands, and Great Britain 
was the acknowledged sovereign of Northern Nigeria. 



The first feeling of the territories appeared to be one 
of profound relief, and the High Commissioner hastened 
to take advantage of the favourable movement by a 
speedy declaration of British policy. In Kano, as has 
been seen, he had left the Wombai as provisional chief, 
with the intention of appointing him to the emirate if 
he should prove satisfactory ; in Katsena and Gando the 
reigning emirs had made submission ; in Sokoto, as in 
Kano, the emir had fled, leaving the throne vacant. 

The work of reconstruction began with Sokoto. It 
has been seen in the case of the southern emirates 
how useful the old Councils of Notables had proved in 
enabling the British Administration to appoint in every 
case emirs chosen according to the law and custom of 
the land. The same principle was adopted at the heart 
of the Fulani empire. The Sarikin Muslimin, or Com- 
mander of the Faithful, as the Sultan of Sokoto was 
called, was the chief who of old gave investiture to the 
lesser emirs chosen by their own Council of Notables. 
But to the Sarikin Muslimin himself no investiture was 
given. He was elected by the Council of Notables 
drawn from certain tribes. Immediately on the fall of 
Sokoto, and the submission of the headmen, the High 
Commissioner, having been informed of the flight of the 
emir, called the Council together and asked them to 
consider whether the emir, who had very lately suc- 
ceeded to the throne, should be recalled and reinstated, 
or whether a new emir should be appointed. Time 
was taken to consider the matter. The decision of the 

449 2 F 


Council was in favour of the appointment of a new 
emir, and the favoured candidate — Atahiru — was, after 
some hesitation, selected. The High Commissioner 
agreed to nominate him, and appointed the following 
day for a formal meeting to explain to him, and to the 
Council of Notables, the future system upon which the 
government of the country would be carried on. 

Accordingly, on the 21st of March, the Council, 
headed by the Waziri, and having with them the Sultan 
elect, assembled in the British camp, and the High 
Commissioner read to them a statement which was 
very carefully translated phrase by phrase by a com- 
petent interpreter, checked by the same Resident, Major 
Burdon, whose name has been already mentioned in 
connection with Nupe, and whose knowledge of the 
Haussa language enabled him to guard against mis- 
representation of the meaning of the document. As 
the speech laid down the policy to be pursued by the 
British Administration, I give the essential passages of 
it in the words used by the High Commissioner. After 
a preamble alluding to the treaties of alliance made 
between Sokoto and Great Britain, and recording the 
circumstances which had led to war, much against the 
desire of the British Government, the High Commis- 
sioner continued : — 

" The old treaties are dead — you have killed them. 
Now these are the words which I, the High Com- 
missioner, have to say for the future. The Fulani 
in old times, under Dan Fodio, conquered this country. 
They took the right to rule over it, to levy taxes, to 
depose kings, and to create kings. They in turn have 
by defeat lost their rule, which has come into the hands 
of the British. All these things which I have said the 
Fulani by conquest took the right to do now pass to 
the British. Every sultan and emir, and the principal 
officers of State, will be appointed by the High Commis- 
sioner throughout all this country. The High Com- 


missioner will be guided by the usual laws of succession, 
and the wishes of the people and chiefs ; but will set 
them aside, if he desires, for good cause, to do so. The 
emirs and chiefs who are appointed will rule over the 
people as of old time, and take such taxes as are 
approved by the High Commissioner; but they will 
obey the laws of the Governor, and will act in accordance 
with the advice of the Resident. Buying and selling 
slaves, and enslaving people, are forbidden. It is for- 
bidden to import firearms (except flint-locks), and there 
are other minor matters which the Resident will explain. 
The alkalis and the emirs will hold the law courts as 
of old ; but bribes are forbidden, and mutilation and 
confinement of men in inhuman prisons are not lawful. 
The powers of each court will be contained in a warrant 
appointing it. Sentences of death will not be carried out 
without the consent of the Resident. 

" The Government will, in future, hold the rights in 
land which the Fulani took by conquest from the people, 
and if Government requires land, it will take it for any 
purpose. The Government hold the right of taxation, 
and will tell the emirs and chiefs what taxes they may 
levy, and what part of them must be paid to Govern- 
ment. The Government will have the right to all 
minerals, but the people may dig for iron and work in 
it subject to the approval of the High Commissioner, 
and may take salt and other minerals subject to any 
excise imposed by law. Traders will not be taxed by 
chiefs, but only by Government. The coinage of the 
British will be accepted as legal tender, and a rate of 
exchange for cowries fixed in consultation with chiefs, 
and they will enforce it. 

"When an emirate, or an office of state, becomes 
vacant, it will only be filled with the consent of the High 
Commissioner ; and the person chosen by the Council of 
Chiefs, and approved by the High Commissioner, will 
hold his place only on condition that he obeys the laws 
of the Protectorate and the conditions of his appoint- 


ment. Government will in no way interfere with the 
Mohammedan religion. All men are free to worship God 
as they please. Mosques and prayer-places will be treated 
with respect by us. Every person, including slaves, has 
the right to appeal to the Resident, who will, however, 
endeavour to uphold the power of the native courts to 
deal with native cases according to the law and custom 
of the country. If slaves are ill-treated, they will be set 
free as your Koran orders, otherwise Government does 
not desire to interfere with existing domestic relations. 
But slaves set free must be willing to work, and not to 
remain idle or become thieves. . . . 

"It is the earnest desire of the King of England that 
this country shall prosper and grow rich in peace and 
in contentment ; that the population shall increase, and 
the ruined towns which abound everywhere shall be built 
up ; and that war and trouble shall cease. Henceforth 
no emir or chief shall levy war or fight ; but his case will 
be settled by law, and if force is necessary. Government 
will employ it. I earnestly hope to give effect in these 
matters to the wishes of my king. 

" In conclusion, I hope that you will find our rule 
sympathetic, and that the country will prosper and be 
contented. You need have no fear regarding British rule ; 
it is our wish to learn your customs and fashion, just as 
you must learn ours. I have little fear but that we shall 
agree, for you have always heard that British rule is just 
and fair, and people under our King are satisfied. You 
must not fear to tell the Resident everything, and he will 
help and advise you." 

The speech was amplified and fully explained in the 
sitting which took place after it was read. The messenger 
who had been ill-treated at Sokoto on the reception of 
a first letter from the British High Commissioner was 
present and gave his evidence, the original letter from 
the late Sultan declaring war was shown. The existing 
position having been fully discussed and appreciated by 


the Council, and the conditions of installation agreed 
to by the Sultan elect, the following day, the 22nd of 
March, was appointed for the installation. 

The details of the ceremony were determined in con- 
sultation with the proper Mohammedan authorities, and 
it was arranged that, in sign of the acceptance of the 
sovereignty of Great Britain by Sokoto, the Sultan, who 
had never hitherto received a gift of investiture, should, 
like the lesser emirs, receive a gown and turban from 
the hands of the representative of the King of England. 
These were to represent the insignia of office, which 
up to the present day it had been the custom for 
Sokoto alone to present on installation to his sub- 
ordinate emirs. 

The installation ceremony was performed with some 
pomp. The troops, with guns and Maxims mounted, were 
drawn up on three sides of a hollow square. An immense 
crowd of natives was assembled. On the arrival of the 
High Commissioner on the spot he was received with 
a royal salute. A carpet was spread for the emir and 
for his principal officers of state. The High Commissioner 
then made a speech in the same sense as that of the 
document which has been quoted. When he came to 
the statement that the British Government would in no 
way interfere with the exercise of the Mohammedan 
religion, that all men were free to worship God as they 
pleased, a deep and most impressive murmur of satisfac- 
tion broke from the crowd. On the conclusion of the 
speech the High Commissioner called upon the Sultan 
to say if he fully understood and accepted the conditions 
of his installation. The Sultan replied that he understood 
and that he accepted them. The High Commissioner 
then proclaimed him Sarikin Muslimin and Sultan of 
Sokoto, and the gown and turban were presented to him 
as the insignia of office. The High Commissioner shook 
hands publicly with the Sultan, and gave permission for 
the royal trumpets, which can only be sounded for a 
duly appointed and accepted emir, to be blown. A 


prayer was recited aloud by the criers, and the crowd 
dispersed amid discordant sounds of rejoicing and ex- 
pressions of mutual goodwill. 

The High Commissioner was very favourably im- 
pressed with this Sultan, as with the Wombai of Kano, 
and with many of the leading men of their councils. 
Amongst the upper class Fulani of the northern states 
he met men deserving in every way of the name of 
cultivated gentlemen. He found them able in argu- 
ment, cultivated in discussion, open to the conclusions 
of reason. In manner they were dignified, courteous, and 
sympathetic. Nor did they seem to him to lack the 
essential qualities of frankness and humanity. There 
could be no question to his mind, nor to those of the 
officers who accompanied him, that among the educated 
classes of the northern state they were in the presence 
of a wholly different standard of civilisation to that 
generally accepted in the southern emirates. A similar 
experience was made at a later period in Bornu, and 
the recognition of this fact naturally went to strengthen 
the conviction of the wisdom of the policy which pro- 
posed to rule, as far as possible, through the existing 
Fulani and Bornuese machinery of the greater part of 
the Protectorate, modified and controlled by the advice 
of British Residents. 

Leaving a Resident and a small garrison at Sokoto, 
the High Commissioner, on the day following the in- 
stallation, took the road towards Katsena, escorted by 
the new Sultan and throngs of chiefs and horsemen for 
a portion of the way. On parting, the Fulani chiefs 
thanked him profusely for all that had been done, dis- 
played great pleasure at his praise of the plucky stand 
which they had made in opposition to the British troops 
before the capture of the town, and gave signs of much 
relief that the fighting was over, and that events had 
taken so favourable a turn. He and his staff gained 
the impression, which subsequent events have done much 
to confirm, that the majority were genuinely surprised 


and pleased at the treatment which had been accorded 
to them. The Sultan of Sokoto has up to the present 
time continued to work in the utmost cordiality with the 
British Resident. 

Katsena, which had not yet been visited by troops, 
was reached on March 28. On the following day, an 
explanation of the British position and policy, similar to 
that made at Sokoto, was made to the emir and chiefs, 
and the emir was installed under conditions similar to 
those of Sokoto. As Katsena had a special reputation 
as a centre of learning, assurances were added in the 
High Commissioner's speech of the willingness of the 
British Government to give such assistance as it could 
to education. Here, as in the other towns, the value of 
a staple currency was discussed, and a rate of exchange 
fixed between British silver and cowries. Other lesser 
chiefs of the northern neighbourhood made their sub- 
mission, and were interviewed and dealt with. 

From Katsena the High Commissioner marched back 
to Kano, and on April 2nd, after explanations similar to 
those of Sokoto and Katsena, the Wombai was installed 
as emir, with observance of some special ceremonies in 
historical use at Kano. With Kano, Katagum was 
brought under British administration. On April 7 the 
High Commissioner reached Zaria ; there he also installed, 
after the usual explanations, a new emir, Dan Sidi, who, 
in consultation with the Sultan and Waziri of Sokoto, 
had been indicated as the best successor to the emir 
deposed at Zungeru, and who was willingly accepted by 
the Zaria Council. 

It may be incidentally mentioned, as an illustration 
of the pace at which work was done in a Protectorate 
where the loyal desire of every one was to "go slow," 
that, from the date of leaving Kano on the westward 
march, to the moment of arrival at Zaria on the return 
journey, thirty-eight days had elapsed. In that period 
eight hundred miles of enemy's country had been traversed 
on foot or horseback, the political situation of Sokoto, 


Katsena, and Kano had been investigated, three emirs 
had been installed, many minor chiefs of importance had 
been interviewed, and the principles of British policy- 
had been personally explained by the High Commissioner 
to the leading representatives of all the native states 
through which the British troops had marched. 

The province of Kontagora had remained without an 
emir for two years. The population had been much 
dispersed, and no suitable heir to the throne had presented 
himself. At Sokoto, when the advice of the emir and 
Council was asked, a unanimous desire had been expressed 
that the recalcitrant chief Ibrahim, who was first cousin 
to the ex-Emir of Sokoto, and a man connected with the 
best families of the northern states, might be reinstated. 
Ibrahim, after experience of exile and confinement, had 
become a profoundly altered man. The vehemence of 
his abjuration of all slave dealing, when the question of 
his restoration was discussed, was in somewhat comic 
contrast to his previous utterances on the same subject, 
and though the experiment seemed doubtful, it was de- 
cided to replace him, under conditions similar to the other 
emirs, upon the throne. The installation of Gando was 
provided for to take place at a later period. 

Every important emir of the Protectorate now held 
his throne under a letter of appointment from Great 
Britain, and to many of the lesser pagan chiefs a no 
less formal " staff of office " had been o-iven. The 
pledges given by emirs and chiefs in return had been 
made in their own forms, but with full pomp of un- 
mistakable public ceremony. By the end of April 1903 
there was no population in the Protectorate that did 
not understand the transfer of sovereignty which had 
taken place from their ancient Fulani rulers to the British 
Government. This was strikingly illustrated by the 
action of the Munshis, an extremely ignorant and trucu- 
lent native tribe occupying the northern bank of the 
Benu^, nearly opposite to Bassa, one of the five provinces 
which at the beginning of the year 190 1-2 had been 


mentioned by the High Commissioner as calling for 
attention. These pagans, who had entirely refused to 
have any dealings with the British, on hearing of the 
fall of Kano, came at once in a strong deputation to the 
Resident, and brought presents, saying that the white man 
was now stronger than Sokoto. 

At a later period it was thought well to assimilate 
the system of appointment, and the emirs and chiefs 
of the Protectorate have been divided into chiefs of the 
first and second grade, and minor chiefs of the third and 
fourth grades. The rank of a chief of the first grade 
is reserved for the Shehu of Bornu and the great Fulani 
emirs, such as Sokoto, Kano, Gando, &c. ; the rank of 
chief of the second grade is for the lesser emirs, such 
as Katagum, Hadeija, Lapai, &c., and the chiefs of the 
principal pagan communities, such as Argungu, Kiama, 
Boussa, &c. The ranks of third and fourth grade are 
for district headmen and pagan chiefs of less importance, 
but having executive authority. The formal recognition 
of all chiefs, whatever their grade, is accompanied by the 
presentation of a "staff of office," and the staff varies 
according to the importance of the office conferred. Chiefs 
of the first grade have a long staff surmounted by a 
silver headpiece, chiefs of the second grade have also a 
long staff, but it is surmounted by a brass headpiece. In 
the case of the third and fourth grades the staves are 
short and of plainer design. For the Shehu of Bornu 
and the Emir of Sokoto special staves have been designed 
as a mark of honour in recognition of their ancient 
positions of supreme importance. There are only these 
four symbols of executive authority. Below the rank of 
fourth grade chief, certificates of office are given, but 
without a staff, to certain graded headmen, &c. 

The oath of allegiance, which is taken on receiving 
the staff of office, has also been brought into regular form, 
and for Moslems is as follows : — " I swear, in the name 
of Allah and of Mohammed his prophet, to serve well and 
truly his Majesty King Edward VII., and his representa- 


tive, the High Commissioner of Northern Nigeria, to 
obey the laws of the Protectorate and the lawful commands 
of the High Commissioner, and of the Resident, provided 
that they are not contrary to my religion. And if they 
are so contrary I will at once inform the Resident for 
the information of the High Commissioner. I will cherish 
in my heart no treachery or disloyalty, and I will rule 
my people with justice, and without partiality. And as 
I carry out this oath, so may Allah judge me." To 
pagans, the substance of the same oath is administered 
in whatever form is most binding on their conscience. 

To all the chiefs it is explained that it is no part of the 
British policy to lessen their influence or authority — that, 
on the contrary, it is the desire of the British Government 
to rule with them, and through them. 

Residents are instructed strictly to observe the 
etiquette of proper ceremonial in their dealings with the 
chiefs. It is recognised that, the Fulani chiefs being aliens 
who have won their position by conquest, it would not 
be surprising if the bulk of the people, seeing that the 
Fulani power has been broken by the British, were no 
longer to accord to the chiefs their accustomed obedience 
and respect. The desire of the British Government is 
to counteract this tendency in every possible way, and 
Residents are instructed that "the privileges and in- 
fluence of the chiefs can best be upheld by letting the 
peasantry see that Government itself treats them as an 
integral part of the machinery of the administration — that 
there are not two sets of rulers, one British and one 
native, working either separately or in co-operation, but 
a single Government, in which the native chiefs have 
clearly defined duties, and an acknowledged status equally 
with British officials." It is, however, considered neces- 
sary at present, and probably for some time to come, to 
retain the means of enforcing order — namely, the mili- 
tary and police force — solely under the British Govern- 
ment. The emir's orders must be enforced by the native 
courts. In the last resort it may, of course, become 


necessary for the British Government to compel obedi- 
ence, but this emergency is as far as possible to be 

The powers of native chiefs are defined, as are the 
powers of the native courts, for which warrants are now 
issued in all the Mohammedan emirates, and it is interest- 
ing to observe that in the elaboration of the details of 
this system the opinions and advice of the emirs and their 
leading native counsellors have been sought and willingly 
given. In many discussions British officers have been 
struck by the acuteness and ability with which the weak or 
distasteful point of a proposal is discerned, and arguments 
in favour of a preferred alternative sustained. The readi- 
ness of the emirs to co-operate in the construction of 
a new system of government has been extremely help- 
ful, and where it has been possible their wishes have been 
gladly deferred to. 



The position of the Fulani chiefs was, however, in the 
first instance, profoundly modified by a condition which 
was of the very essence of British administration. A 
large part of their revenue had consisted of tribute 
paid in slaves, and, in some cases, of the tithe levied on 
the produce of slave-raids, which they conducted either 
in person or by the medium of the commander of their 
troops. But under British government, the slave-raid and 
the slave-trade were abolished, and all dealing in slaves 
became illegal. It was not made illegal for a native to 
own slaves, but by the abolition of the legal status of 
slavery, every slave who chose to do so could assert his 
freedom, while the decree making all children free who 
were born in the Protectorate after April i, 1901, was a 
decree of general emancipation of the coming generation. 

The fact has to be faced by the administrator in 
Mohammedan Africa, that the abolition of slavery is not 
a straightforward task of beneficence. It carries with it 
grave and undeniable disadvantages to the slaves as well 
as to their owners, and the objections urged against it 
by the local rulers and employers are not by any means 
without foundation. 

Property in slaves, whatever may be thought of it 
by the enlightened conscience of Europe, is as real to the 
Mohammedan as any other form of property. Slavery 
is an institution sanctioned by the law of Islam, and to 
abolish it without compensation to the Mohammedan 
slave-owners would be an act of injustice amounting to 
nothing less than wholesale confiscation. 

It has to be remembered, also, that in countries 



where all industries are based on slave labour, slave 
power takes the place which steam and electric power 
take in the West. It cannot be suddenly abolished 
without a universal dislocation of industrial life. Slaxcry 
is at present the only form of labour contract known 
in many districts of Northern Nigeria, and before it can 
be done away with, time is needed for other forms of 
labour contract to be substituted. My husband, whose 
opinions I am quoting in regard to the whole of this 
important subject, and who, as his early career has 
publicly proclaimed, is among the most convinced op- 
ponents of slavery, has pointed out, in memoranda 
intended for the instruction of the Residents, that a 
substantial return is given by the master for the work of 
the slave. The slave is protected, housed, clothed, and 
fed. In many cases he is allowed to employ a portion 
of his time for his own exclusive benefit, and his rights 
are carefully protected by Koranic law. It is not wise to 
encourage a reckless rejection of these present advantages 
without full consideration of his possible future position. 

The slaves of Northern Nigeria may be divided into 
two classes, household slaves, and farm slaves.^ The 
household slaves are domestic slaves in the sense usually 
understood, though they frequently rise to positions of 
great responsibility and independence. The status of 
farm slaves differs from that of household slaves, and is 
rather that of serfs attached to the soil, than of slaves 
in the common sense of the term. They are inalienable 
from the land. They cannot legally be sold. They 
have certain rights as regards produce, the houses they 
live in, the land which they are allowed to cultivate for 
themselves, and the time which is allotted to them for 
their own use. They form, in fact, the body of the agri- 
cultural population, and any sudden change which should 
lead these people to abandon the land and flock into the 
towns would manifestly be disastrous. The slaves of 

1 See the description given by Hume of the slaves of England under 
the Saxons. 


Northern Nigeria, by the universal testimony of the 
British Residents now stationed in every province, are 
generally happy and contented. 

This condition of affairs is sometimes made the basis 
of an argument in favour of the permanent toleration of 
domestic slavery, which, under proper supervision, is 
thought by some people to be an institution suited to 
the present condition of Africa. In opposition to such 
a view there is the simple logic of the fact that slavery 
cannot be maintained without a supply of slaves acquired 
under all the horrors of slave-raids, and transported with 
great suffering and loss of life from their original homes. 
The evils of this system, whether they are considered 
from a humane, or simply from an economic and adminis- 
trative point of view, do not need to be insisted on. 
For this reason alone slavery must stand condemned in 
any society which aspires to civilisation. But there is 
also a second aspect in which slavery as an institution is 
opposed to the march of progress. It keeps a very large 
portion of the population in a state of tutelage, in which 
the individual is not held responsible for his acts. This, in 
my husband's opinion, is the reason why Mohammedan 
Africa, which readily reaches a higher stage of civilisation 
than the black pagan territories, does not progress beyond 
a certain point. It is too heavily weighted by the irre- 
sponsible multitudes who are not concerned with, and do 
not directly contribute towards public life. This from 
the administrative point of view is very undesirable. 

It is the British tradition that slavery is not tolerated 
in any country which has been annexed to the Crown, 
and has become a colony under the British flag, but that 
in countries which are only in that partially dependent 
condition which is known by the name of a Protectorate, 
and are still governed by their own laws, it is not pos- 
sible to forbid the institution of domestic slavery where 
it exists. In all British Protectorates the step is now 
taken to abolish the legal status of slavery. 

In Northern Nigeria the value of the immediate 


abolition of slave-raiding and slave-trading need not be 
discussed. There is no voice that would be raised in 
humane society in favour of the maintenance of these 
institutions. The abolition of the legal status of slavery 
has an effect in two ways. It is different from the aboli- 
tion of slavery. It means only that the law as adminis- 
tered in British courts does not recognise the existence 
of slaves, and that property in persons as slaves is not 
admitted. It is not forbidden to a native to hold slaves 
so long as the master and slave are mutually satisfied, 
but the slave can at any time assert his freedom if he 
wishes to do so. Under this system emancipation is 
gradual, and the value of it is that, without dislocating 
the whole machinery of labour in the Protectorate, it 
gives to the individual slave the power to change his 
condition if he pleases. This is the first and obvious 
use. The second effect is no less useful. It tends to 
lessen the value of property in slaves by the fact that 
no one is a slave any longer than he chooses to remain 
one, and that property in slaves is not property in the 
eyes of British law. This, combined with the increasing 
difficulty and expense of obtaining slaves in consequence 
of the abolition of the slave-trade and slave-raid, will have 
the natural economic effect of preventing the investment 
of money in slave property. Thus, by pressure of cir- 
cumstance, without abolition, and without compensation, 
the slave-owner will gradually cease to exist. 

Having set the machinery of freedom in motion 
towards an inevitable end, it is not to the interest of 
the administration to hasten its operation. On the con- 
trary, it is evidently to be desired in the interests of the 
country that it should work slowly. 

While the stream of investment is being diverted 
from its old employment, and a free generation of children 
born after the advent of British administration is growing 
up, a process of education is going on of both classes, 
upper and servile, to the conception of a free labour con- 
tract and the respective responsibilities under it of master 


and servant. To this end Residents are instructed to 
direct the attention of chiefs and employers of labour 
to the inevitable nature of the approaching change, and 
in order to encourage a gradual adaptation of the social 
system to the new conditions, they are specially to point 
out the practical advantages of the employment of free 
labour under the British administration. These are, in 
fact, very real, since, if an employer's slaves choose 
to desert him, the British courts cannot force them to 
return, while, if he employs free labour, he has the full 
assistance of the administration in enforcing his contract. 
It is hoped that the example of Government, in employ- 
ing gangs of free labour for public works, may serve 
to illustrate the nature of a free contract, and be gra- 
dually adopted by the native chiefs. The more intelli- 
gent among them have shown a great willingness to 
accept the necessary transition, recognising themselves 
that, since their raiding grounds are closed, the present 
system must come to an end. Already, from different 
parts of the Protectorate, interesting accounts have been 
received of experiments which have been tried by native 
employers in free labour. They have generally taken 
the form of piecework — plots of land being divided into 
the equivalent of pennyworths of cultivation, which are 
paid for in cowries. The experiments reported upon 
have been successful, and accentuate the value which will 
attach in this connection to the introduction of a cash 
currency in which labour can be paid. The develop- 
ment of a system of direct individual taxation will also 
tend to teach the peasant his responsibilty to the State, 
and his personal interest in and obligation to it. The 
conception of individual responsibility has to be taught 
to the slave, and respect for this individuality has to be 
learned by the master, in the transition period through 
which both are passing. 

The transition period has its own difficulties. One 
of these consists in the numbers of runaway and freed 
slaves, for whom, though the practice of running away is 


as far as possible discouraoed, some provision lias tu be 
made. This difficulty is met in part by the establishment 
of freed slave homes for the women and children, tiie 
larger number of runaways being women whose cases are 
more properly cases of divorce. Men are expected to 
support themselves. Another difficulty of the transition 
period which has to be taken notice of, is the master's 
difficulty of obtaining labour for necessary industries as 
the bond of the existing labour contract is loosened. 
This would certainly become grave were runaway slaves 
provided for on any large scale in a condition of idleness. 
In tropical Africa the ground is so fertile, and the wants 
of the primitive native so few, that a family may be easily 
supported for a year on the produce of a few weeks' work. 
Dr. Barth says that, in Northern Nigeria, a family could 
live comfortably for a year on produce of which the equi- 
valent value in English money would be ^5. Beyond 
the satisfaction of these simple requirements there is no 
need for the native to work. As a free agent he may 
therefore prefer to be idle. But he has, in slavery, the 
habit of work, the country can only be developed and 
made prosperous by labour, and it would be retrogression, 
not progress, if a race now fairly laborious were, by a 
too sudden alteration of the social system, to be rendered 
idle and vagrant. 

There is no need that this should happen in Nigeria, 
where, as we have seen from Dr. Barth's description, the 
pagans whom the Bornuese raided for slaves were in their 
free state extremely industrious. Two conditions appear 
to be of value in preventing such an unsatisfactory result. 
One, which is the first essential of all social progress, is 
that each man should feel himself secure in the possession 
of the fruits of his labour ; the other, which seems at first 
sight like a contradiction in terms, is that he should be 
obliged to contribute his share towards the expenses of 
the State. The apparent contradiction is accepted by all 
civilised societies, and takes the form of security from 
confiscation accompanied by regular taxation. 

2 G 



The necessity to contribute to the maintenance of the 
state is no more a new proposition to the African who 
has Hved under Mohammedan rule, than is the habit of 
labour. He has been accustomed to arbitrary levies for 
the purpose. What the British Administration hopes to 
effect is the introduction of order and moderation in the 
claims which are made upon him in regard both to labour 
and to taxes. It is right that, as a free man, he should 
work for the maintenance of the State as well as for the 
maintenance of his own family, and it becomes essential 
that, contemporaneously with the introduction of liberty, 
there should be established a regular and equitable system 
of direct taxation. 

This brings us to the subject from which we started : 
of compensation to the emirs and fief-holders of the 
Protectorate for the loss of revenue which they were 
likely to suffer as a consequence of British intervention 
in the slavery question, and also of the abolition of ex- 
cessive tolls on trade. 

On the assumption of sovereignty in the southern 
emirates it became immediately necessary to secure to 
the emirs some revenue which would enable them to meet 
the expenses of their position, and this was done by allow- 
ing them to collect their taxes under the protection of 
the British Government. But in the quick succession of 
events it was understood that all arrangements were 
temporary. It was not until after the fall of Sokoto 
that full attention could be given to the subject. When 
the submission of the northern emirates had placed the 

permanence of British rule beyond a doubt, the natives 



of the Protectorate, well aware that no govcrnmeiu could 
be carried on without a revenue, looked for an early 
declaration on a subject which was to them of supreme 

Northern Nigeria, it has been said, has no seaboard. 
Internal fiscal frontiers were abolished when its territories 
were transferred to the Crown. The fruitful source of 
customs is, therefore, under present arrangements, cut off 
from its fiscal possibilities. It must look to direct taxa- 
tion for its resources. Direct taxation is also that to which 
the natives have been accustomed. The broad system on 
which the country was taxed under native administration 
has been already alluded to, and it has been seen that the 
burden was heavy. Under it the revenue of the emirs and 
the principal fief-holders from the quite legitimate sources 
of land, cattle, duties on crops, trades, &c., should have 
been considerable. But in the decadence of Fulani rule, 
the disorders which prevailed, the chronic rebellion of 
tributary states, and the abuses of tax - gatherers, pre- 
vented these revenues from flowing as they should have 
done to the public treasury. While the dynasties were 
detested for their arbitrary exactions, the emirs were 
generally poor. 

The advent of the British and the overthrow of Fulani 
rule were at first hailed by the peasantry as an excuse 
to repudiate all obligations to pay taxes, and even in the 
well-organised province of Kano the revenue could not 
be collected. It was evident that, if the policy of ruling 
through the Fulani was to be maintained, the first duty 
of the British Administration was to provide for the 
peaceable collection of the taxes ; and since the conquered 
emirs had been deprived of the power to raise troops 
or police in their territories, it was necessary that British 
force should even be applied in case of need to compel 

The recognition of this obligation had the good effect 
of enlisting the sympathy and goodwill of the ruling classes, 
and of carrying to their minds some conviction of the truth 


of the assurances contained in the British declaration that 
the native chiefs were themselves henceforward to form 
an integral part of the administration. But it followed 
that, unless the British Administration were to allow itself 
to be made the instrument of misrule, it had to assure 
itself that the taxes were fair, and that the method of 
collection did not involve oppression and cruelty. 

From this situation a result was evolved so important 
to the future administration of the country, that I will 
ask the reader to take patience if I describe it at what 
may seem to be undue length. 

The emirs and councillors of the different states placed 
their knowledge heartily at the disposal of the British 
Administration. In many cases it was found that their 
experience was nil, and that abuses which the name of 
their government had covered were wholly unknown to 
them, having been perpetrated by the often worthless 
favourites who had been allowed to over-ride the proper 
officials. But they had intelligence and knowledge of 
native custom, and by the cordial working together of 
the Native and British Administrations, a system of re- 
formed taxation was elaborated, of which the Imperial 
Government has in principle signified its approval. 

Under this system the aim in the Mohammedan states 
has been to retain the ancient and legitimate taxes based 
upon Koranic law, while relief has been given to the 
peasantry by the abolition of those modern impositions 
which had been multiplied by the caprice of successive 

The principal taxes recognised by the law were, first, 
the " Zakka," or tithe in corn, which was limited to the two 
staple crops of the country, dhourra and gero. In theory 
it was due from Moslems and not from pagans, and should 
have been devoted to purposes of charity and religion. 
In practice it had lost its special character, and in all 
the provinces except Sokoto it was levied on Moslems 
and pagans alike. Second, the " Kurdin Kasa," a land 
tax, which, in exact opposition to the Zakka, was in theory 


levied only upon conquered pagans. In practice it was 
arbitrarily levied, and was subject to purely capricious in- 
crease. Third, the plantation tax was a tax levied u[)on all 
crops other than the two which paid Zakka. Fourth, there 
was the " Jangali " or cattle tax : it was originally a tithe, 
and was levied only on cattle, and not on Hocks, Fifth, 
the Sokoto Gaisua was a varying sum paid by all sub- 
ordinate emirates to Sokoto and Gando : in theory it was 
a tax upon the rich, and represented an acknowledgment 
of suzerainty, having its counterpart in the present usually 
made upon appointment by lesser chiefs to their superiors. 
In practice it became a levy made by emirs upon all their 
subordinate chiefs, and consequently through them upon 
the peasantry. The emirs retained a portion of it for 
their own benefit, and sent a portion to Sokoto. Before 
the British occupation many emirates had ceased to send 
their contribution to Sokoto, and when British suzerainty 
was substituted for that of Sokoto they took the oppor- 
tunity to discontinue it. In Sokoto, which was a Moslem 
province, no taxes were levied except the Zakka. Con- 
sequently Sokoto was at first deprived of revenue. Sixth, 
the " Kurdin Sarauta " was an accession duty paid by 
every chief or holder of office on appointment. The 
abuse of this tax had led to the sale of offices to the 
highest bidder, and put a premium on the dispossession 
of holders of office in order that vacancies might be 
created. Seventh, there was a tax on handicrafts, under 
which head fresh impositions were perpetually devised. 
Eiofhth, there was a tax on traders, under which head 
merchants, brokers, shop-keepers or common vendors 
in the market, all paid their contributions to tiie re- 
venue. Caravan tolls were apart from these, and ought 
perhaps to constitute a separate heading. Ninth, there 
was Gado or death duties, complete enough to satisfy the 
most Radical of European reformers, under which, when 
there was no direct heir, whole estates lapsed to the 
emirs. Tenth, there were fines, court bribes, presents, 
arbitrary collections made on special occasions, and forced 


labour, of which slavery was, of course, the base. In 
addition to these there were almost countless special taxes, 
such as those on date palms, honey, dancing girls, pros- 
titutes, gamblers, &c., which can only be classed as 
various, and were imposed almost at will. In Bornu the 
traditional taxes, of which a careful separate study was 
made by the Resident, Mr. Hewby, were found to be 
the orthodox Zakka, Jangali, and Gado, with another 
called the " Haku Binirum," which was of the nature of 
a graduated tax on property, whether represented by 
land or other forms of wealth. 

Upon the assumption of British rule the Residents of 
every province were instructed to study and report upon 
the existing system, its uses and abuses. As a result of 
their reports, combined with the advice and help given 
by the native administrations, the following reformed 
system has been compiled. 

All agricultural taxes, with the exception of the Sokoto 
Gaisua, and its provincial counterpart, the Kurdin Sarauta, 
are to be merged in a general assessment which will be 
paid as heretofore, but under a reformed system of collec- 
tion, to the Native Administration, and of which it is 
proposed to allot a definite proportion to the uses of the 
Native and the British Governments. It will be a matter 
of arrangement what expenses shall be borne by each. 

The Sokoto Gaisua and the Kurdin Sarauta will be 
retained as a traditional recognition of suzerainty, but 
will be much reduced in amount. The reduced Sokoto 
tribute will henceforth be paid to the British Government, 
from whom investiture is now received, but it will be in 
every case deducted from the amount due on other counts 
to the British Government, and a portion of it will be 
given by the British Government to Sokoto to be used 
for charitable and religious purposes, in acknowledgment 
of the special position of the Emir of Sokoto as religious 
head of the church of the Soudan. The Kurdin Sarauta, 
or appointment tax, will be paid as before to the local 
chiefs, but it will be nominal in amount, and the chief 


who receives it will pay half to the British Government 
in acknowledgment of the authority under which he makes 
the appointment. As no appointment will be made in 
future without the concurrence of the Resident, the old 
abuse of perpetual re-appointments for the sake of collect- 
ing more tax will be abolished. Gado, or death duties, 
will not be interfered with, and will be paid as before to 
the Native Administration. Legitimate industrial taxes will 
be maintained as before, but their proceeds will be merged 
in the general assessment. Caravan tolls, which are being 
used as a road tax, at present form a monopoly of the 
British Government, but it is proposed to merge them 
also before long in the general assessment. All other 
forms of taxation — forced labour, fines, bribes, arbitrary 
impositions upon industry, &c. — are to be abolished. 

Thus we get in the Mohammedan areas a general 
assessment covering all the old legitimate taxes upon 
agriculture and industry, an accession duty, nominal in 
amount, paid in accordance with traditional custom as 
a recognition of suzerainty, and the old Gado, or death 
duties, left undisturbed. The old system of tax-gatherers 
will be abolished, and the general assessment tax will 
be collected by the reformed Native Administration under 
British supervision. A proper proportion of the proceeds 
of this tax will then be paid by the Native Administration 
to the British Government, and will constitute the revenue 
drawn for Imperial purposes from the country. 

In workingf out the details of the reformed scheme it 
is felt that a certain safeguard has been secured by the 
co-operation of the emirs and native authorities ; but it 
is not to be expected that a long-established system of 
taxation can be suddenly reformed without friction, or 
even entirely without unintentional injustice, which may 
be found in practice to press unfairly upon some special 
section of the people. The new system must, in its 
nature, be regarded as tentative for some time to come. 
If the reports of the provincial Residents are to be 
trusted, it promises to meet with cordial acceptance 


from the emirs and chiefs, who fully understand and 
appreciate the dignity and security of the position which 
it proposes to confer upon them, while it is in accordance 
with native tradition to pay taxes in the form of tribute 
to a superior government. The obvious difficulty of 
the scheme lies, first, in a just assessment of the people, 
and, secondly, in a regulation of the amount paid to the 
British Government. 

The assessment has been the principal work carried 
out under the supervision of the British political staff of 
each province during the past year. To indicate the 
manner in which it has been done, and the effect which 
it is likely to have upon that amalgamation of the Native 
and British Administration which it is the desire of the 
Government to effect, I would like to quote from the 
report of Dr. Cargill, the Resident of Kano. 

It was his duty to make the assessment of the district 
of Gaiya, of which the Waziri of Kajio, son of the emir, 
had, under the old system, been the fief-holder. He 
accordingly went to Gaiya, accompanied by the Waziri. 
On arrival at Gaiya, the Seriki, or local chief, was inter- 
viewed in the presence of the Waziri, and the business 
of assessment and reform of the system of collection 
explained. The local chief proved intelligent, and ren- 
dered all the assistance in his power. The local tax- 
collectors, or Mayungwas, twelve in number, who collect 
the taxes from the people in the town, were summoned, 
and each brought with him the farmers of his quarter. 
Each Mayungwa was asked how much he collected from 
his district under each head of taxation. Each individual 
farmer was then separately summoned, and was asked 
what he had paid, and what was his trade, and the number 
of people in his house. "In this way," says Dr. Cargill, 
" I completed the assessment and census of Gaiya town 
within two days. I then turned the work over to two 
of my own clerks and to two mallams (native scribes) 
brought by the Waziri, and told the chief of the town 
to call in all the tax-collectors from the district outside 


the town to inform the clerks of the amounts they collected 
from their respective quarters." While this was beinj^ 
done, the Resident and Waziri travelled throui^h eii^dit 
more towns. On their return to Gaiya at the end of 
three days the clerks were found to have finished their 
work. One of the Waziri's scribes, assisted by one of the 
chief of Gaiya's scribes, were then left to go round the 
district, making a complete list of the names of the 
farmers, the amounts they paid, their trade, and the 
numbers of their households, as had been done by the 
Resident in Gaiya. The Resident returned with his own 
clerks and the Waziri to Kano. " The time actually 
occupied by myself and staff," writes the Resident, "was 
seven days at Gaiya and four days' travelling. The result 
is map, census, and assessment of one district completed, 
and one jakada (chief tax-gatherer) abolished. I calculate 
that it will take me some months to complete the map 
and the assessment of the whole of the Kano district. 
In the same time I hope that the junior Residents 
may be able to accomplish the same work in the other 
emirates of this province. . . . The Waziri took a very 
intelligent interest in this tour." He was present at 
every interview, and he is soon "to try his own hand at 
assessment." It is also the British Resident's opinion 
that the more important fief-holders may turn out, after 
some instruction and supervision, to be of real use to 
the Government. *' As a class," he says, "they are men 
of refinement and understanding, and existing abuses can 
hardly be laid to their charge, as their offices have hitherto 
been merely nominal, and their functions usurped by the 
big slaves." 

The process thus described is at work over the entire 
area of the Mohammedan states, and under it the diffi- 
culties attaching to assessment and the reform of the 
system of collection, both of which are, of course, being 
carried out upon one design throughout the whole of the 
states, are rapidly disappearing. 

The second difficulty of the new system — the decision 


of the amount of the general assessment tax which is 
to be apportioned to the Native Administration and to 
the British Government — has, as a matter of fact, given 
no trouble. The proportion which it has been proposed 
to take for British purposes has so far been willingly- 
accepted by the emirs, and it has been found in those 
provinces where the system has been put in operation, 
that, though the burden upon the peasantry has been 
greatly reduced, the reformed system of collection, by 
its regularity, and by the abolition which has been 
effected of the army of tax-gathering middlemen, pro- 
mises to place the emirs in a secure financial position, 
which will amply compensate for the loss of slave tribute 
and of the excessive tolls on trade which were previously 

In connection with the payment of a share of the 
assessment to the British Administration, the extended 
use of cash currency is urgently desirable. The assess- 
ment will be subject to periodical revision, and it should, 
as the country develops, show a steady increase. Sums 
now small may become considerable, and even now the 
difficulty of payment in kind is obvious. 

The satisfactory promise of the new system has of 
course helped substantially towards the amalgamation of 
the native with the British rule, and tends happily to 
remove a cause of discontent which might have placed 
difficulties in the way of the enforcement of the laws 
against slave-dealing and slave-raiding. These, under 
present circumstances, have been loyally accepted by 
the emirs, and are now in practical application in every 
province. The slave-trade has been abolished, and the 
rulers and fief-holders who profited most by it have a 
fair prospect of enjoying, under the system which has 
abolished it, more regular incomes than they possessed 
under the old system. It is proposed that a portion of 
the general assessment retained by the Native Adminis- 
tration shall be assigned to the fief-holders, and their 
advantage, like that of the emirs, will be intimately 


associated with the prosperity of the country. There 
will remain, of course, a body of slave-traders who, until 
their commercial capital has been diverted to more leorj- 
timate trade, will be discontented, and will naturally be 
disposed to foment any ill-feeling to which the new dis- 
tribution of taxes may unwittingly give rise. There is 
always the danger, in writing of a generally popular 
reform, of describing it too confidently as a universal 
cure for evils which are inherent to society. Reform is 
not usually an unmixed benefit, but unfortunately brings 
with it its own drawbacks. Experience will discern these 
in the new scheme of taxation, and their appearance may 
be the cause of troubles which will have to be dealt with 
as they arise. 

For the moment, however, the reorganisation of native 
finance would seem to have been satisfactory, and it has 
been so important a factor in promoting the speedy and 
peaceable settlement of the Protectorate that, after the 
abolition of slavery, it must be held to take the first 
place. It is easy to imagine how the relief of the peas- 
antry on the one side, and the satisfaction of the rulers 
on the other, affect the whole relations of government 



But if conquest is best when it is speedy, the work of 
reorganisation must in its nature be always slow. The 
campaign of 1903 placed Northern Nigeria definitely 
under the British Crown. It will tax the energies of 
many generations of Englishmen to develop the terri- 
tories thus acquired, and to bring them, with the widely 
varying populations which they carry, to the full realisa- 
tion of their own best possibilities. In the meantime 
the work of the existing administration is to carry for- 
ward to the best of its ability the extraordinarily inte- 
resting work of organising the new fabric of government, 
of which the elements have been placed in its hands. 

I have spoken only of the taxation of Mohammedan 
areas. These include, of course, the pagan peasantry 
of those areas, and they also include pagan communities 
under Mohammedan rule. There remain independent 
pagan communities, and these are of two classes. States 
which have histories as old and as respectable as those 
of the Mohammedan states themselves, though they 
have never attained to quite the same high stage of civi- 
lisation, and which are governed by one chief. Among 
these may be named Argungu and Jegga, within the 
geographical limits of the province of Sokoto ; Gorgoram 
in Western Bornu, possibly a modern development of 
the old province of Gwangara, Wangara, or Ungara, 
whose population migrated to this neighbourhood from 
Ghana ; Kiama in Borgu ; and some of the Jukum cities 
in Muri. These independent states will be treated, 

according to their degree, more or less in the same way 



as the Mohammedan states, their taxes being assessed 
on the basis of tradition, and the result shared with the 
British Government. The second class of independent 
pagans are of very low type, and have hardly yet so 
far advanced in civilisation as to have an organised 
state, owing allegiance to a recognised chief. Their 
chiefs are little more than elders or heads of families. 
Upon these communities it is proposed to levy a very 
light tax, payable direct to the British Government as 
an acknowledgment of its suzerainty. The tax is to be 
a communal tax, payable through the village elders, 
and it will be the object of the administration gradu- 
ally to group these villages together under a central 
chief, in the hope of raising them to the higher social 
plane of more civilised races. The obligation to pay 
tribute to the power whose laws they recognise is well 
understood by these tribes. It constitutes an acknow- 
ledgment on their part of authority and submission to 
a superior power which forbids brigandage on the 
roads, &c. As they are often industrious, and rich in 
flocks and herds, the burden is nominal, while the 
moral to be enforced is of importance. 

But though reform of taxation is as the bed-rock of 
other reform, it is but a foundation upon which much else 
must be raised before the substitution of a reign of law 
for a reign of force can become permanently effective. 

To give law a proper place in its literal sense, it 
was necessary partly to create, and partly to restore and 
reform the means of dispensing justice through the 
Protectorate. The principle by which the Native Adminis- 
tration has been incorporated as an integral part of one 
executive with the British has been applied as far as 
possible to the judicial system. This has as its machinery 
three principal engines. There is first a Supreme Court, 
which is the highest judicial tribunal in the country, and 
is presided over by the Chief-Justice. To this court 
there are affiliated local cantonment courts, presided over 
by British cantonment magistrates, who are Commissioners 


of the Supreme Court. There are also British provincial 
courts, presided over by the Resident in charge, of which 
one is situated in every province. All sentences of death 
and punishments for serious offences awarded in these 
courts must await confirmation by the High Commis- 
sioner, who, of course, acts with the advice of his law 
officers. A Resident has no judicial power outside his 
own province. All other officers exercising civil judicial 
powers in the province are Commissioners of the pro- 
vincial court, and may hold courts in any district of the 
province. Native courts, of which there may be an un- 
limited number in every province, complete the judicial 
system. They are constituted by warrant, and the extent 
of their powers is laid down in the warrant appointing 
them. No native court, except those of Kano and 
Sokoto, to which the concession has lately been made, 
has had power given to it to pass sentence of death, 
and in these two courts the death sentence is subject 
to the concurrence of the Resident. The Resident of 
the province has access at all times to the native court, 
and may transfer any case from it to the provincial 
court. He thus exercises supervision over the native 

In the native courts justice is administered by a 
native judge called the Alkali or El Kadi. Under the 
old native system he usually sat alone as judge, and the 
emir or head chief also usually held a court dealing chiefly 
with political cases. There was also usually a Limam, 
who dealt with cases of probate and divorce. 

As found at the time when British administration was 
introduced, the powers and constitution of native courts 
varied with every province, and, as has been mentioned 
in a previous chapter, the system of justice had from 
different causes greatly deteriorated. 

The policy of the British Government is to interfere 
as little as possible with these courts, but merely to re- 
store them to the original purity of their jurisdiction, 
subject to the abolition of punishments which modern 


civilisation regards as inhuman, and to nmkc ihcm 
effective instruments of justice. They are to be so far 
supervised as to put an end to flagrant abuse. The 
Alkalis are to be taught the principles of British justice, 
and the elementary rules of evidence. The number of 
the courts is to be increased so that justice may be 
brought within easier reach of complainants. 

In order to constitute a native court, a warrant is 
issued which defines its powers, and confers legality on 
its sentences. In practice, the jurisdiction of the native 
courts is usually confined to civil actions. The number 
of these courts is now rapidly increasing through all the 
provinces. In the pagan districts, where courts consist 
only of a council with judicial powers composed of the 
chiefs or elders of contiguous villages, their action is still 
uncertain and elementary, but in Mohammedan centres 
they are in full activity, and the number of cases brought 
to them for settlement is steadily increasing. 

This peaceful development has not been wholly with- 
out disturbance since the fall of Sokoto. Difficulties 
have arisen, caused by the efforts of deposed emirs to 
make good their pretensions to the thrones from which 
they have been deposed, or from the recalcitrancy of 
smaller independent chieftains who did not, in the first 
instance, accept the submission of the northern states 
as universal and complete. In some instances these 
difficulties have been settled without fighting ; in others, 
there has been occasion for the display of military force ; 
but the conquest and death of the ex-Sultan of Sokoto, 
and of the rebellious Magaji of Keffi, which took place 
in an engagement near Burmi, on the western frontier of 
Bornu, in July of 1903, practically put an end to any 
further question of opposition to the supremacy of 
British rule. This has been the only fighting of import- 
ance since the fall of Sokoto. 

It is, of course, to be expected that from time to time 
disturbances will arise which will have to be repressed by 
force. But for ordinary purposes of law and order, a 


native police force has been organised under white officers, 
of which detachments are stationed in every province, 
thus Hberating" the troops of the West African Frontier 
Force for more purely military duties. The troops are 
now stationed in certain capitals, and chiefly at the head- 
quarters of Zungeru, Kano, and Lokoja. There are also 
garrisons at Maifoni and Dumjeri, the respective British 
capitals of Western and Eastern Bornu, and in order to 
preserve the northern states from the incursions of desert 
tribes, a chain of frontier forts has been established and 
garrisoned by mounted infantry, who have 170 miles to 
patrol between each fort. 

It has been essential that the organisation of the 
British Administration, both central and provincial, should 
as far as possible keep pace with the rapid development 
of the Protectorate. There are now four classes of Resi- 
dents, as well as police officers, charged with political 
duties in the provinces. The rank of the Residents is 
divided into first class, second class, third class, and 
assistant, and though the roll is not yet complete, four 
Residents have been generally allotted to each pro- 
vince. Six out of the seventeen provinces into which 
the Protectorate is divided have been formed into double 
provinces, and placed under the charge of a first-class 
Resident. The six which have been selected for the 
first experiment are Sokoto and Gando, Kano and Kata- 
gum. Eastern and Western Bornu, and the Residents 
placed in charge as first-class Residents have, of course, 
been chosen for their special ability and experience. It is 
proposed to devolve upon these officers a large measure of 
administrative control, and gradually to extend the system 
of grouped provinces with a view to relieving the central 
administration of the direct supervision of separate pro- 
vincial units. Within each province the same system of 
devolution will be adopted as a larger body of officers 
having experience of the special kind of work is formed. 

The duties of Residents are extraordinarily diversified, 
ranging from those of political adviser to the native 


sovereign, and head of the Provincial Court, to survey- 
ing, map-making, and reporting on the economic, com- 
mercial, and social conditions of the province. Each 
Resident writes for the information of the Hicrh Com- 
missioner a report upon his province, which has hitherto 
been monthly, but which will, as conditions become more 
normal, be submitted at longer intervals. Thus at head- 
quarters a body of information respecting the entire 
Protectorate is being gradually accumulated, while the 
maps and descriptions of routes also sent in regularly by 
the Residents form material for filling up the outline of 
the Nigerian map. The prototype of the Resident of 
Nigeria is probably to be found in the Deputy Com- 
missioner of India, but the circumstances, though parallel, 
are of course far from similar. Assistant Residents are 
placed in charge of specified districts under the Resident, 
and in consequence of the cordial co-operation and re- 
markable administrative aptitudes of the Fulani, when 
they once understand that oppression and tyranny are for- 
bidden, the work of the provinces is being carried on 
with a smaller number of white men than might have 
been imagined possible. 

There are now in all, counting non-commissioned 
officers and civil subordinates, about 400 white men in the 
Northern Nigerian service, which, allowing for one-third 
absent on leave, as under the rules of West African 
service they have a right to be, leaves about 270 on 
duty. With this number the whole service of the Pro- 
tectorate — military, legal, medical, and administrative — is 
performed over an area which successive boundary con- 
cessions have reduced to about 300,000 square miles. 

The organisation of the Medical Service, with a system 
of hospitals and white nurses at headquarters, doctors at 
out-stations, and sanitary regulations, which are now being 
carried generally into effect, has greatly reduced the 
number of casualties from sickness, which at first sub- 
tracted substantially from the list of white men avail- 
able for service, and often threw the machinery of 

2 II 


work into confusion by the absolute necessity which it 
created of providing, from an already short-handed staff, for 
the performance of the duties of the invalided. The 
climate of the Protectorate, as a whole, is found also to be 
much better than that of the valleys of the Niger and the 
Benue, in which at first the only centres of British occu- 
pation were situated. The climate of Zaria is indeed 
so good as to be exhilarating to Europeans, who, during 
a portion of the year, can enjoy the pleasure of frosty 
nights, and as the territories approach the desert in the 
north they become generally more suitable for white 
occupation. Native towns are frequently insanitary, but 
it is believed that, with the exercise of due care in the 
selection of sites for white settlements, these may in the 
northern states be rendered perfectly healthy. 

The position nevertheless is one which throws into relief 
the very great importance of the question of communica- 
tions. There are at present telegraph lines between some 
of the more important centres, and it is hoped soon to con- 
nect them all with the administrative capital at Zungeru. 
It is even now possible, by a system of runners to Kano, 
to communicate by cable between the shores of Lake Chad 
and London in ten days. But there are as yet no rail- 
roads in the Protectorate, except about twenty-two miles, 
which have been constructed from a port on the Kaduna 
to communicate with Zungeru, and the distances to be 
traversed are very great. For the Residents of Bornu to 
reach their stations from the administrative capital at 
Zungeru, takes longer than it takes them to travel from 
London to Zungeru, and thus causes a very serious loss of 
official time in proceeding to and from their work. Be- 
tween station and station, in the event of promotion from 
one part of the Protectorate to another, or if the need arises 
for two Residents to meet in order to discuss the affairs of 
their provinces, the same loss of time has to be reckoned 
with. Through the southern states the travelling roads 
were originally little more than tracks, and at the moment 
of the introduction of British Administration, the navi- 


gability of the minor rivers for any craft larger ilian 
canoes was untested. 

Under British Administration something has been 
done to improve the state of the communications. 
Tracks have been widened into roads ; districts rendered 
unsafe for travelHng by the brigandage of pagan tribes 
have been poHced, and waterways have been opened to 
navigation. By the opening of the river Gongola, an 
important tributary of the Benue, last year, an addition 
was made to the navigable course of the Niger and 
the Benue, which gives at certain periods of the year 
1 100 miles of continuous waterway without a rapid 
from the Niger mouth, and the time and expense of 
getting stores into Bornu have been greatly diminished. 
In the northern states there are broad caravan roads 
neatly bordered with hedges as in England, and it has, 
of course, become part of the work of the Native Ad- 
ministration to maintain and to develop these roads. 
Roadmaking is one of the subjects to which the atten- 
tion of the chiefs is being directed in every province. 

In the present state of the communications the High 
Commissioner was able last year, accompanied by his 
secretarial staff and a small military escort, to visit 
every capital of the Protectorate, with the exception of 
Sokoto. The tour, which included Yola, Bautchi, Bornu, 
Kano, Katsena, and Katagum, occupied him about 
four months, marching at a rate scarcely less rapid 
than that of his march to Kano and Sokoto in 1903. 
Sites were selected during this tour for all the new 
British stations. Oaths of allegiance were taken from 
the Emirs of Bautchi and Yola. The Shehu of Bornu, 
one of the most cultivated and intelligent of the native 
chiefs of the Protectorate, was installed with much 
ceremony, and many interesting discussions were held 
with him upon the principles and application of British 
policy. A somewhat sullen and recalcitrant chief, who 
claimed independence in the border town of Hadeija, 
was also interviewed, and brought to submission and 


to the acceptance of a British garrison, which will 
occupy Hadeija as one of the chain of frontier forts 
already mentioned. The Emir of Katsena, whose con- 
duct since the occupation of Katsena by the British 
had been radically unsatisfactory, was deposed, and 
his heir, selected by the Council of Notables, was in- 
stalled in his place. This new emir, and the Shehu of 
Bornu, both took the oath of allegiance to King Edward 
on the Koran in public, with the knowledge of all their 
people, as a part of the installation ceremony. 

In Kano and Katsena, as at Bornu, much interesting 
conversation upon the subject of the new system of 
administration was held with the emirs, and the know- 
ledge that the High Commissioner in person, the repre- 
sentative of the British sovereign, had travelled within 
a few months through every capital of the Protectorate, 
had its visible effect in helping forward the realisation 
of the fact that the Protectorate has been consolidated 
into a unity administered in the name of the King of 

The capitals of the other provinces — Kontagora, 
Ilorin, Nupe, &c. — were visited In a separate short tour. 
Thus a personal supervision of the provinces has already, 
to a certain extent, become possible, and, notwithstanding 
the obstacles of space and time, free communication 
between them may be said to have been established. 
But for the purposes of that further communication, 
which Is essential to the opening of trade and the 
development of their commercial resources, the crying 
need of the Protectorate Is, of course, for a railway 
through the heart of Its most populous districts, which 
should connect the commercial centres of Kano and 
Zaria with an all-the-year-round navigable port upon 
the Niger. 



What are we to do with it? is perhaps the question 
which will arise in many minds as they think of the 
vastness of the territory which has thus been brought 
under British rule. To this question the growing re- 
cognition of the value of the tropics, to which allusion 
was made in the first chapter of this book, will gradu- 
ally bring the full answer. No one can so foretell the 
course of history as to know yet all that may be done 
with it. 

To those to whom the liberation of many millions 
from the curse of slavery, and the introduction of the 
elements of a finer civilisation into the local life of the 
interior of Africa, do not in the meantime give a suffi- 
ciently satisfactory reply, it may be briefly said that we 
shall presumably do with it as we have done with India. 
We shall administer it, trade with it, and help both 
directly and indirectly in the development of those 
natural resources which form at present, as Sir Robert 
Schomberg said more than fifty years ago of British 
Guiana, the "buried treasures" of its soil. 

When it was decided, towards the middle of the last 
century, to withdraw from the West Coast of Africa, the 
commercial use of many valuable commodities of the 
tropics was unknown, the existence of others was 
ignored ; but science and experiment are every day 
demonstrating the value of new products. The forest 
areas of the tropics are rapidly proving to be reserves 

of wealth no less real than that which has for centuries 



lain hidden in the mineral beds of Australia, California, 
and the Transvaal. Rubber, shea butter, palm oil, 
wood oil, gums, and many other articles of modern 
trade, exist in the forests in quantities which represent 
an almost limitless addition to the circulating wealth of 
the world — if labour can be found to harvest them, and 
transport facilities can be given to carry them to the 
markets of civilisation. That these sylvan products 
require enterprise for their development, and for the 
conversion of their potential resources into realised 
wealth, is all the better. They offer a fresh field to 
the activity of new generations. 

In Northern Nigeria an important forest belt spreads 
across the southern states and up the valleys of the 
principal rivers. 

In Ilorin and Kabba, the two most westerly provinces 
south of the Niger, the forests contain much valuable 
timber, in which mahogany is especially noticeable. 
There are also in these provinces extensive plantations 
of kola trees, bearing the nut most valued in the markets 
of the Protectorate. In Ilorin there is little rubber, 
but in Kabba there is a great deal, Funtu7nia elastica 
and several Landolphias being common. The forests 
are known also to contain many commercial products 
which further exploration would bring to light. Bassa, 
on the southern side of the Benue, is practically a rubber 
reserve. Here there exist stretches of what may be 
called " rubber forest," in which thick masses of Landolphia 
vines scramble over the trees. Nassarawa, both north 
and south of the Benu6, contains great quantities of 
rubber. On the banks of the Lower Benue, and also 
on the banks of the Gurara River, flowing through the 
western part of Nassarawa into the Niger, there are 
splendid forest areas, in which mahogany and ebony 
predominate. These woods, being situated on the banks 
of navigable rivers, could be easily worked. The same 
observation applies to the rubber forests of Bassa, a 
province which occupies the angle formed by the meeting 


of the Benu6 and the Niger. In the western part of 
Nupe, between the Kaduna and the Niger, there are 
extensive plantations of the Kola acm/iina/a, esteemed 
through the whole of North Africa : these might 
become the basis of an important export trade. Shea 
butter trees abound in most parts of the Protectorate, 
and oil palms in the river valleys. The larger rivers 
of the Protectorate possess the usual characteristic of 
African rivers, and in time of flood overflow their normal 
borders, leaving every year a deposit of rich alluvial 
mud, which renders the soil of the valleys not only 
extremely rich, but practically inexhaustible. Heavy 
crops of rice, tobacco, cotton, &c., are cultivated as in 
Egypt on the land thus left exposed. This fertility is 
particularly observable in the valleys of the rivers which 
drain the highlands of Nassarawa and Bautchi to the 
Niger and the Benue. 

In the Gongola Valley the soil is described as "ideal 
black cotton soil," and existing native cotton crops are 
specially good. Fine fields of dhourra, gero, tobacco, 
&c., spread round all the villages ; two crops of dhourra 
and tobacco being obtained in the year. On the exposed 
banks of the Lower Benue after flood, rice enough could, 
it is believed, be grown to supply the whole Protectorate, 
and to leave a considerable surplus for export. 

All these areas are inhabited by naturally industrious 
agricultural tribes, who have for centuries been the prey 
of slave-raiders. It is evident that a very large popula- 
tion has at one time existed here, and now that slave- 
raiding has been stopped, the country should once more 
provide all the labour that can be required for its exten- 
sive development. 

Farther east, the territories of Southern Bornu carry 
forests of gum-bearing acacias, breaking towards the 
north into mahogany tamarinds and dum palms. 

In the open northern portions of the Protectorate 
the products are more purely agricultural. They are 
under present conditions grown mainly — though not 


entirely — for local consumption, and consist commonly 
of various kinds of corn and beans, cassava, rice, ground 
nuts, yams, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sorrel, onions, 
taniers, ochres, gourds of many kinds, and peppers. In 
addition to these, wheat and sugar-cane are grown as a 
special form of cultivation in some districts ; wheat rather 
extensively in the Wobe Valley, in North Bornu, where 
the same conditions of rich soil repeat themselves, as in 
the valleys of the south. For industrial purposes the 
most widely grown crops are cotton, tobacco, indigo, 
and beniseed. 

Of these cotton is the crop which will at first most 
naturally attract European attention. It has from time 
immemorial been a crop native to the soil. It is grown 
in large quantities and of good quality all over the 

It has been already seen that the soil of the Gongola 
valley, repeating the conditions of the valley of the Nile, 
is particularly favourable to the growth of heavy cotton 
crops, and, owing to the cheap water-transport available, 
its harvest could be easily exported. The greater part 
of Southern Bornu consists of cotton soil. On the edee 
of Lake Chad a specially fine quality of cotton, locally 
known as "Ballum," grows with extraordinary luxuriance. 
At the time that the High Commissioner's party passed 
in December last, the cotton bushes were in full bearing. 
They were growing in clumps, of which measurements 
were taken by the botanical expert who accompanied the 
party, and the plants were found to be ten feet high, 
while each clump measured about fifteen yards in circum- 
ference. This is almost phenomenal for cotton. They 
carried a very heavy crop. The cotton which they bore 
is silky and long in the staple, and even locally fetches a 
high price. 

The provinces of Kano and Katagum are full of 
cotton, which is grown with care in fenced enclosures. 
In Zaria, every town and village has its cotton fields. 
The people thoroughly understand its cultivation, and 


it is reported that " the capabilities of the country for 
the production of cotton are enormous." 

The opinion of a cotton expert, who passed through 
Nupe and some other districts in 1904, was that Nor- 
thern Nigeria held out better prospects for the cotton 
industry than any other West African colony. 

I have dwelt at some length upon the question of 
cotton, as it offers, perhaps, a prospect of the creation 
of the first large export industry of the Protectorate, 
and there is no need to insist upon the importance of 
feeding the looms of Lancashire with home-grown raw 
material. There are, of course, many other prospective 
industries, which should include all forms of tropical agri- 
culture. The leather trade and ostrich farming are also 
industries to be developed. 

There has been no time for the systematic explora- 
tion of the mineral resources of the country. The 
highlands to the north of the Benue have an historical 
reputation, and silver and tin ores are known to exist 
in them in some quantity. Antimony also occurs, and 
small quantities of monozite and other valuable thorium- 
bearing minerals have been found. Iron ores are common 
throughout the Protectorate ; and smelting is one of the 
oldest industries of which local records have been pre- 
served. A small survey was sent out in 1904, but the 
discovery of minerals takes time, and the country must 
be more fully open to European enterprise before its 
true mineral capacity can be gauged. 

Enough has, I think, been said to show that with the 
forest-bearing slopes and valleys of the southern pro- 
vinces, the mineralised, though as yet unexplored, belt 
of highlands, which at the back of these traverses the 
country from west to east, and the open agricultural 
plains of the northern districts, the Protectorate con- 
tains in itself all the primitive elements of a valuable 
trade. Add to this that the population, though much 
depleted now, is to be counted in millions, who, under 
conditions of peace and security, are likely to show a 


rapid increase, and that from the earliest times their 
numbers have been made up of agriculturists, herds- 
men, and traders ; and it will be understood that there 
was a substantial foundation for the North African 
proverb which said that, " As tar cures the gall of a 
camel, so poverty finds its cure in the Soudan." 



From the point of view of a development which should 
bring the country into touch with the outer world, the 
trade of Northern Nigeria may at once be divided into 
two branches, the internal and the external. In proportion 
as the internal trade is active and widespread, local life 
will evidently be nourished, and the native populations 
will attain to a prosperity in which, if they desire to 
do so, they can restore the old position of Negroland, 
by attracting, for the gratification of their own wants, 
a steady volume of trade from other nations. 

We have seen that in the Middle Aees the trade 
of the West African Soudan bore no mean proportion 
to the relatively limited trade of the civilised world. 
It is probable that, as the nations of the Soudan recover 
their ancient prosperity under a just and enlightened 
rule, they may contribute again in equal proportion to 
the now enlarged volume of the world's commercial 

Clearly, if we look to the millions of Nigeria to 
become our customers, it is of great importance that 
they should be rich and prosperous themselves. From 
this point of view the internal trade movements of the 
country have a general, as well as a local interest, and it 
is satisfactory to find that with every year of British 
administration the value and convenience of open roads 
is being more widely appreciated by local traders, and 
trade is proportionately increasing. It consists largely, 
as in other parts of the world, of an exchange of the 
manufactures of the towns for the raw material of the 


country, and is carried on by the direct operation of 
barter, supplemented by a currency in cowries. 

All trade at present is caravan-borne, partly by means 
of transport animals, partly by human carriage. A man 
carries usually about seventy pounds, and in order to deliver 
this weight of goods in distant portions of the Protectorate 
he may have to walk for several months. When this has 
to be done through disturbed countries the risk to life 
and property is of course great, and to minimise the risk, 
caravans in old days travelled in great strength, sometimes 
numbering several thousand persons. The passage of 
such bodies of men through a country unprepared for their 
reception was in itself likely enough to provoke disturb- 
ance, and it was the habit of the rulers through whose 
territory they passed to compensate themselves for damage 
by the exaction of very heavy tolls. 

The main routes of trade ran generally north and 
south through the western portion of the Protectorate, 
where Ilorin at one end counterbalanced Kano at the 
other, and east and west through the northern states, 
where the caravans travelling from Tripoli to Kano 
usually entered the territories of Haussaland via Lake 
Chad and Kuka. Upon these main routes Fulani toll 
stations were established, while the by-roads were ren- 
dered impracticable by the brigandage of pagan tribes. 
The position of a trader was not always enviable under 
the circumstances. Nevertheless, the whole of the terri- 
tories were traversed by a network of caravan routes. 
Besides those which ran from Kano to Ilorin in the 
south-west, there were others, more dangerous and less 
frequented, which carried goods to Yola in the south- 
east. Kano, which was itself a manufacturing centre, 
and was also a receiving centre for European goods from 
the Mediterranean coast, sent local manufactures and 
European products to the country districts, receiving raw 
materials in exchange. Ilorin, which was not itself so 
much a manufacturing as a receiving centre, distributed 
the goods of Kano through the coast districts, and 


supplied the returning caravans with European goods 
in exchange. 

These caravans were, however, confined to the in- 
terior. They were not allowed to pass through Ilorin 
in the south-west, but were obliged to receive from the 
Ilorin middlemen any goods which they desired to pur- 
chase from the coast. Similarly Lagos traders from the 
coast were prevented from passing to the north. Ilorin 
held the position of a buffer trade state, in which the 
whole of the exchange trade was done by local brokers. 
An equally impassable barrier existed on the south-eastern 
frontier. The greater part of the southern pagan belt 
was entirely impenetrable by peaceful caravans. There 
existed only one or two roads by which it was possible 
to cross it, and on those the tolls were so extortionate 
that the exactions on the road amounted to half the 
goods of the caravan. A similar exaction was made on 
the return journey, and, in addition, there was all the 
risk of murder and pillage. This trade was directed 
towards what is now German territory, but the dangers 
of the road rendered it practically impossible. On the 
northern frontier, trade from Tripoli via Chad to Kano 
took some months for the journey, and cost about ^50 
per ton of merchandise carried, in addition to heavy risks 
of pillage and murder in the desert. 

Since the introduction of British grovernment the roads 
of the Protectorate have been rendered practically safe, 
and traders travel singly or in couples where caravans 
used to think it necessary to travel in strength. The 
tolls, though still retained in principle, have been reduced 
to a relatively small percentage upon the value of goods 
carried, and the safety of the roads has now thrown 
open the passage to the coast. An experimental down 
journey was made by an Arab trader from Tripoli in the 
early part of this year. He took a caravan of eighteen 
oxen from Kano to Zungeru, and was amazed at the 
security and convenience of a road which he had believed 
to be impassable. He went on personally to Lagos, and 


thence by sea to Tripoli, his own prediction being that 
he would be the "first of many" who would take this 
road when he had reported its advantages and security 
in Tripoli. His calculation was that goods could be carried-^ 
between the Lagos coast and Kano in forty days without 
risk, whereas, between Tripoli and Kano, the journey ex- 
tended sometimes to seven months, with the risks of the 
desert in addition. It has since been reported that the 
arrival of this Arab in Tripoli, and the account which he 
has given of his journey, has created a great sensation 
in commercial circles there. It remains still to be seen 
how much of the northern trade will in this way be 
diverted to the British coast. 

The facilities which have been given by the new order 
of things to caravans travelling southward towards the 
coast have, of course, been reciprocally extended to traders 
travellingr northward from the coast to the interior, and 
upwards of four thousand trade licences were this year 
issued by the British Government in Ilorin to petty 
traders, many of whom flocked from the coast provinces 
into the town. The British Resident of Ilorin reports 
that whereas, in old days, no Yoruba trader was to be 
found upon the left bank of the Niger, there is now no 
market of importance in Northern Nigeria in which they 
are not to be found. This, if correct, is in itself extremely 
satisfactory. It prepares the way for an easy flow of 
trade from the coast to the interior, and the impetus 
which has already been given to the trade of the coast 
colonies is clearly marked in their annual returns. 

The question of caravan tolls is an interesting one, 
upon which the permanent policy of the British Adminis- 
tration is still open to consideration. It seems fair 
that all trade profiting by the safety of the roads, and 
the new markets opened to its activity, should bear a 
share of the expense by which this state of things is 
brought about. But, on the other hand, the undesira- 
bility of placing any restriction upon the movements of 
trade is keenly recognised. It is to be desired on all 


sides, that the cumbrous and extravagant system of 
caravan traffic may soon be superseded by a more 
convenient form of transport. With the introduction 
of railroads, and the extension of a steam service upon 
the rivers, the question of caravan tolls will probably 
fall into abeyance. Throughout the interior of the 
Protectorate the reduction of these tolls has given 
universal satisfaction, and the steady increase in the 
amount collected — notwithstanding the fact that by- 
roads, which have no toll stations, are now so safe as 
to be frequently used for the purpose of evading all 
tolls — gives unmistakable indication of the increase in 
the volume of internal trade. 

The question in which European traders are in- 
terested is, of course, the development of an export 
trade. This rests, I have tried to show, in the first 
instance, upon internal prosperity. The direct object 
of the administration is to promote prosperity by the 
peaceful organisation of the country under just laws, 
the maintenance of order, and the opening of com- 
munication with the outer world. When these objects 
have been attained, the administration may be re- 
garded as having done its part. It holds the field in 
the interests alike of the native and the European. It 
is for European trade itself to do the rest. 

The wealth of opportunity cannot be doubted, and 
private enterprise is already following close upon the 
heels of established government. The returns of Euro- 
pean trade with the Protectorate are not at present 
published in a form which makes accurate figures at- 
tainable, but the two European firms who do the prin- 
cipal trade have for the last year given incomplete 
figures, which reach a total of about ;^300,ooo. This 
is exclusive of European trade done for Government 
through the Crown Agents, and also of trade of which 
the values in European goods done by native traders 
are not known. Some ;^6o,ooo worth of British cottons 
are estimated to have been imported last year by petty 


native traders living at Ilorin. The trade is entirely 
exclusive of trade spirits, which are not admitted into 
Northern Nigeria, and small as its total is at present, it 
equals already about half the trade which was done 
forty years ago with all the West Coast settlements 

This is not a despicable beginning when it is con- 
sidered that there are at present but two English firms 
who have established operations in the country, and 
that they have not yet taken possession of the field 
which has been opened by the extension of British 
administration to the northern provinces and to Bornu. 
It must be understood that in entering the northern 
states we enter regions of civilised industry which bear 
no comparison with the peoples of the coast, and which 
have already markets susceptible of indefinite expansion. 

Over the greater part of the territories the native 
population are reported as being eager to buy English 
agricultural implements. Some dissatisfaction has been 
felt with the bad quality of English cloth which has 
been introduced, and a consequent impetus has been 
given to native dyeing and weaving industries, but for 
good cloth there is a ready sale. Hardware, needles, 
thread, writing paper, mirrors, and many other articles 
of English manufacture, are keenly appreciated, and 
since the superiority of the road from Lagos to Kano 
has been demonstrated over the desert route to Tripoli, 
it is to be hoped that English goods will before long 
take the place in the market of Kano which has 
hitherto been held by other European goods imported 
through the Mediterranean coast. Tea, of which the 
stimulating quality is recognised by the Tuaregs of the 
desert, under the name of "Water of Zem-Zem," has 
now largely taken the place of coffee with the richer 
class of Mohammedans ; and European provisions are 
readily bought in the northern states. 

Here a wide market evidently waits. Two main 
obstacles are opposed to the rapid development of trade. 


One is a radical difficulty which the development of inter- 
course and the promotion of native prosperity can alone 
remove. Natives are ready to buy, but they do not 
possess in sufficient quantity a marketable equivalent 
for European goods. Native manufactures have no 
value in European markets. Horses and cattle are too 
cumbersome for export. Cowries are only locally useful. 
Exchange must therefore be based solely on produce 
which has value in European markets, and which is suffi- 
ciently portable for export under present conditions. 
Even this to be profitable must be in bulk, and retail 
trade is impracticable while small payments have to be 
made in kind. The same difficulty attaches to the col- 
lection of Government taxes, which for the present have 
to be paid for the greater part in kind. The solution 
evidently is to be found in the encouragement of a 
surplus production in native industries of which the pro- 
duce can be profitably exported, combined with the in- 
troduction of a cash currency as a medium of general 
exchange. In this way native existing industries of 
the kind most valuable to Europe will, by a natural 
process, be expanded, and new ones will be sought which 
will gradually extend the basis of an export trade. The 
stimulus to this movement will be supplied by the desire 
to possess articles procurable only with the required forms 
of produce, and though the operation of the movement 
may require time, it may on the whole be trusted to cor- 
respond with the amount of enterprise displayed on the 
part of European firms in introducing new commodities 
to the native markets. Already, as has been seen, a 
good deal has been done by the administration in the 
direction of introducing a cash currency, and silver coins 
are coming into general use. 

It has been seen, in describing the early history of 
the Royal Niger Company, that its founders looked 
to the northern states of Haussaland for the ultimate 
success of its trading operations. Here they expected 
to meet with returns which should repay all the adminis- 

2 I 


trative expense of opening the northern country to 
British influence, and there is no reason to suppose 
that they were mistaken. The reaUsation of their ideal 
is now attainable. The burden of administrative ex- 
pense has been assumed by the British taxpayer. The 
country has been opened, not only to one firm, but to 
all legitimate British trade, and it is for British trade 
to develop the wealth of the markets which at that 
time were beyond its reach. 

The second obstacle to the development of trade is 
easier to remove than the first. It is the obvious diffi- 
culty of transport which arises from the very nature of 
an extended trade. The existing system of human 
carriage, if the most natural to a semi-civilised society, 
is absolutely opposed to any large commercial movement. 
Were it possible to obtain carriers for the transportation 
of goods in bulk, armies of men would be required, 
who would destroy, by the mere fact of their passage, 
the country over which any large produce trade was 
in operation. The time required for such transport 
would be prohibitive, and the cost, as calculated in 
Northern Nigeria under present circumstances, would be 
two shillings per ton per mile, as opposed to the fraction 
of a penny for which certain classes of goods would be 
carried by rail. Add to this that heavy machinery, 
such as may be required for mining, cotton pressing, &c., 
cannot be transported at all by human carriage, and it 
is evident that the present system of carrier transport 
is hopelessly condemned. Were there no other argument 
against it, the mere fact that every man who is employed 
as a carrier represents so much labour taken away from 
production is itself a sufficient reason for regarding the 
system as the most costly and unprofitable that can be 
employed. Human carriage is a concomitant of slavery. 
With the abolition of slavery it becomes impossible. 

One of the first endeavours of the administration 
has been so to improve the main trade routes of the 
Protectorate as to render them fit for the more general 


employment of animal transport, and between Ziint;crii 
and Kano a fairly good cart road, fit for the employnu-iu 
of wheeled vehicles, will soon have been c(inii)U-icci. 
The opening of navigable waterways has also already 
placed some rich districts within easy reach of European 
trade, but the urgent need of the Protectorate from 
every point of view, political and commercial, is obviously 
for the introduction of railways. These need not in 
the first instance be expensive. The country is generallv 
open, the gradients of the main routes are easy, and 
there are no impassable obstacles which call for costly 
engineering works. The development of trade must be 
necessarily gradual, and in order to keep pace with it, a 
railway so light as to be little more than a tramway, 
along which waggons could be drawn by steam, might, 
in the first instance, be laid from a navigable port on 
the Niger to Zungeru, and thence along the route which 
has been cleared for the construction of a cart-road 
to Zaria and Kano. This is the caravan route which 
traverses some of the richest and most populous districts 
of the country. When the markets of this district had 
been worked, it would perhaps be time enough to extend 
a similar cheap service from Kano to the capital of 
Bornu. If the trade which resulted were sufficient to 
justify further expense, the construction of more solid 
railways would rapidly follow. Transport in a peaceful 
country is not in truth a difiiculty. It is little more 
than a calculation of profit and loss. 

The administration of Northern Nigeria is but five 
years old. Its duty has been to bring under control a 
congeries of states, of which the internal disorders necessi- 
tated, in the first instance, a resort to the plain argument 
of military conquest. The administration has not in 
the short period of its existence been able to do more 
than to affirm the conquest of the country, and to create 
a skeleton of the machinery of government which it 
will be for time to bring to its full perfection. But a 
beginning has been made. The framework of adminis- 


tration has been established in all the provinces. A 
territory which we found in chaos has been brought 
to order. The slave trade has been abolished within 
its frontiers. Its subject races have been secured in 
the possession of their lives and • property. Its rulers 
have been converted with their own consent into officials 
of the British Crown, and are working sympathetically 
to promote an order of things that shall render a return 
to old abuse impossible. There has been no great 
shock and no convulsion, only into the veins of a deca- 
dent civilisation new blood has been introduced, which 
has brought with it the promise of a new era of life. 

Thus a territory has been opened, in which the genius 
for administration, and the adventurousness in trade, which 
have always characterised the British people, have once 
more the opportunity of working side by side to the ac- 
complishment of great national results. It is a union 
which in times past brought the British Empire into exist- 
ence. It gave us India, it gave us Canada, and though 
these are great names, there is a reasonable ground for 
hope that the chapter of Imperial history which has been 
opened in the interior of West Africa will not prove 
unworthy of the rest. 






Abdurrahman I., 32, 44 
Abdurrahman II., 50, 51 
Abou Bekr. See Askia Abou Bekr 
Abou Bekr of Wankore, teacher, 

Abou el Hagen of Morocco, 75, 76, 

127, 134 
Abou Ishak or Toueidjen, 125, 126 
Adouatein. See Spain and Africa, 

dual empire 
Africa — 

Cut off from Europe by Turkish pos- 
session of N. Coast, 294 
Early civilisation, 10-13 
European influence on interior and 

coast different, 344, 345 
First settlements on coast line only, 

320, 321 
Inferior races always driven south, 

316, 317 
North Coast of Africa. See that 

Slave trade. See that title 
Soudan. See that title 
Two great trade routes to interior, 

West Coast of Africa. See that title 
Aghadez, 195, 201 
Ahmed Baba, Soudan historian, 156, 

Aiwalatin, 90, 93, 96, 97, 130, 165, 175 
Al Gazzali, 36 

Al-Hazen, Arab optician, 36 
Al Maimon, Arab astronomer, 35 
Al Mansur, 51, 52 
Alarcos, Battle of, 64 
Alexander the Great, 94 
Algebra, product of Arab civilisation, 

Ali Folen, 191, 196, 211 
All Ghajideni, reign of. See Bornu, 


Almohades sect conquers Morocco 

and Spain, 58, 59 
Almoravides, The — 

Desert Kingdom, 107-112 

Dual Empire, Spain and Morocco, 
55, 56 

Origin, 54 

Lose Spain and Morocco, 59 
Andalusia. See Spain 
Arabic numerals, 35 
Arabs — 

Andalusian immigration, value of, 

Early dealings with Negroland, 84-89 

Great scientists, philosophers, his- 
torians, 35-40 

Learning and achievements in 
medieval times, 32-49, 67-72 

North Africa conquered by, 24-29 

Ommeyades dynasty, 32-49 

Spain conquered, 29-32 
Armour used in Haussaland, 251 
Artesian water, 1 18 
Ash-shakandi epistle quoted, 60, 61 
Askia Abou Bekr — 

Ascends Songhay throne, 181 

Conquests, 190-198 

Death, 211-212 

Minister to Sonni Ali, 1 71-173 

Pilgrimage to Mecca, 182-189 

Reforms, 199-202 
Audoghast, 90-93 ; sacked, 107 
Avempace, Arab physician, 39 
Averrhoes, Arab scholar, 36, 64, 65 
Avicenna, Arab philosopher, 35, 36 
Azlecs, practices similar to those of 
African blacks, 137-139 

Bajazet, Sultan, 286, 287 
Barbar)^, learning and splendour at 
Tunis, 71 



Barbot, quoted, 322, 323, 324, 334, 336, 

2,17, 340 
Earth, Dr., explorer, quoted, 155, 156, 
157, 260, 262, 263, 271, 342, 377, 
179, 465 
Bautchi submits to British administra- 
tion, 434 
Bello, Sultan — 

Quoted, 270, 275, 276 
Reign of, 390-398 
Ben Musa, Arab geometer, 35 
Benins, The, 179 
Berber Tribes — 

Almohades rule in Spain, 58-65 
Almoravides. See that title 
Conquered by Arabs : result, amal- 
gamation, 26-32 
Characteristics similar to primitive 

races of N. Europe, 32, 34 
Lemtunah nation, 53 
Origin of, 13-15 

Revolt and conquer Spain, 52-57 
Blyden, Dr., quoted, 376 
Borgu, kingdom of, 106, 179; con- 
quered by Askia, 193 
Bornu States — 

Condition at time of Moorish in- 
vasion, 286 
Disruption in, 399, 400 
History of, 106, 236, 251, 252, 254, 

264, 268-281 
Invaded by Fulani, 388 
Mohammed el Kanemi, 388, 389 
Occupied by British, 433-436 
Slave-raid described, 412-415 
Bosman, quoted, 338, 340 
Brandenburgh, has settlements on 

West Coast, 326 
British Empire — 

Not a white empire, i 
Tropical area, extent and richness, 
I, 2 
Burials, Royal, in Ghana, 67 

Caill^, Ren^, 341 
Caliphate, The — 
Divides into Eastern and Western 

Caliphates, 32, 34 
Eastern, overthrown by Tartars, 67 
Western breaks up into three 
Powers, 67 
Cannibalism, 124 

Caravan routes, 15-17 

Cargill, Dr., quoted, 47 

Carnegie, Mr., 422 

Chartered Company on West Coast 

(seventeenth century), 329-332 
Chinese coins found on East Coast 

of Africa, 222 
Chinese labour. See Coloured labour 
Christianity — 

Spread in Central Africa by re. 
fugees, 234 

Stronghold in N. Africa in early 
days, 14 
Clapperton, Captain, explorer, 342 
Coloured labour, 3-6 
Columbus, 185-187, 188, 292 
Congo Free State founded, 350 
Cordova. See under Spain 
Cotton growing, N. Nigeria, 487-489 
Crusades, The, 59, 251 
Cyrene, 13 

Dahomey, French Protectorate of, 358 
Decoeur, Captain, 359, 360 
Delafosse, M., quoted, 379, 380 
Denham, Major, quoted, 342, 376, 

377, 388, 389, 409 
Denmark — 

Cruelty of agents on West Coast, 337 

Settlements, 326, 329 
Djolfs, The, 81 
Djouder Pasha, commander Moorish 

army, 296-305, 31 1-3 13 
Dutch settlement on West Coast, 

325-327, 329, 330, 337 
Dwarfs, near Gao, 157, 158 

Ebn Junis, astronomer, invented 

pendulum, 35, 38 
Conquered by Cambyses, 95 

Early civilisation, 9, 10 

Ethiopian dynasty, Persian con- 
quest, the Ptolemies, 233, 234 

Expeditions westward and south- 
ward under Pharaoh, 230-234 

Hyksos dy nasty, 3 

Mamelukes, invaded by Tamerlane, 

Nimrod the Powerful, legend, 227- 



EI Bekri, historian of Negroland — 
Life, 85-89 

Quoted, 91, 95, 96, 98, 105, 108, 160 
El Idrisi, geographer, quoted, 37, 38, 

no, 115 
England — 

Attitude towards slavery, 462 
Exploration in Central Africa, 341- 

International race for territory in 

Africa, 350-355 
Policy, to withdraw from native 

affairs, 345-349 
Settlements on West Coast, 326-331 
Slave trade. See that title 
Equator, curious theory concerning, 

Es-sadi, Soudan historian, 155 
Es Soyouti, 184 
Ethiopians. See Meroe 
Europe — 

Barbarian invasion from north, 33 
Exploring expeditions into Central 

Africa, 341-342 
International race for territory in 

Africa, 350-355 
Mohammedan civilisation in. See 

Mohammedans expelled from Wes- 
tern Europe, 289-295 
Settlements on West Coast of Africa. 

See West Coast of Africa 
Turkish Empire conquers Mediter- 
ranean coasts, 288-289 
Exploration in Central Africa by 
Europeans, 341-342, 350-355 

Ferdinand and Isabella. See Spain 
Fez. See under Morocco 
France — 

Ambitions in Africa, 349, 350-354 
Settlements on West Coast, 323- 

325, 326 
Strained relations on Nigerian 

boundary, 358-360 
Violation of British border in Bornu, 

433, 435 
Franco - German War stimulates 

Colonial ambition, 349 
Fulani race, 21, 22, 81, 87, 194, 252, 

Degeneration and cruelty, 401-404 | 

Fulani race {continued) 

Empire founded— a Holy War, 385- 

Haussaland conquered, 387 
History, legends, itc, 374-380 
Moorish rule thrown off, 384, 385 
Origin of kings, 381-382 
Overthrown in Hornu, 388 
Spiritualism and second sight, 393 
Sultan Bello's reign, 390-398 
System of administration, 405, 406 

Gago or Kaougha. See Songhay 
Gambia, colony founded, 343, 345 
Gando accepts British administration, 

Geber or Djajar, Arab chemist, 36 
Genowah, 7 
Germany, competition for African 

territory, 354, 360 
Ghana, Kingdom of — 

Aiwalatin. Sec that title 

Black dynasty overthrown, 110-112 

Conquered by Susu, then by Melle, 
104, 119 

Decay of, 116, 117 

History of, 93-99 

Trade, 100-103 
Gibbon quoted, 290 
Gibraltar, etymology, 30 
Gold and gold mines, 98, 105, m, 112, 

147, 148 
Gold Coast Colony founded, 343, 345 
Goldie, Sir George, 352, 356, 364, 365 
Great Britain. See England 
Gunpowder, Arab invention, 36 

Hakluyt quoted, 327 
Haussa States — 
Bornu State. See that title 
British administration introduced. 

Sec Nigeria 
Condition at time of Moorish in- 
vasion, 284-2S5 
Condition when British authority is 

introduced, 406, 407 
Conquered by Askia, 195 
Daura, legends concerning, 260 
Degeneration of P'ulani rule, 401- 

Early religion, 242-246 



Haussa States {continued) 
Fulani rule — 
Conquest, 387 

Reign of Sultan Bello, 390-398 
States revolt, are defeated, 391, 
Gober, State of, 265-266 
Histor}' and legends, 236-242, 246- 

257, 258-267 
Kano. See that title 
Katsena. See that title 
Queen Amina of Zaria, 246, 247, 252 
Soldiers' generosity to enemies, 213 
States. See their various titles 
Travelling traders, 285 
Haussa Regiment. See West African 

Frontier Police 
Heeren, quoted, 222 
Herodotus, quoted, 10, 12, 19, 221 
Homeman, explorer, 341 
Hygienic rules of Katib Moussa, 126 
Hyksos dynasty, Egypt, 379 

Ibn B.^tuta — 

Journeyings, 74, 75 

Visits to Melle, 129-141, 144, 149-1 5 1 
Ibn Haukal, quoted, 84 
Ibn Khaldun, quoted, 73, 74 
Ibn Said, Arab historian, quoted, 37, 

47, 60, 63, 69, 70 
Ibn Zohr, Arab physician, 39 
Ifrikiah, Province of — 

Hafside dynasty, 65 

{See also Barbary States) 
Isabella, Queen of Spain. See Spain 

Japan and native labour, 5 
Jenne — 

Ancient Egyptian influence in, 161 

Riots under Moorish rule, 306 

Submits to Sonni AH, 174 

Territory of, 146, 147, 165 
"Jigger," The, 124 
JolofTrace, 375 

Kagho or Kaougha. See Songhay 
Kanem. See Bornu 
Kano — 

Bornu attack upon, 280 

British expedition and occupation, 

Kano {continued) 

Conquest by Songhay and decline, 

254-257, 266, 267 
History, 249-254 

Legend concerning, 242-244, 248 
Prison, 402 
Kanta. See Kebbi 
Katsena — 

Accepts British administration, 446 
Province and town of, 261-265 
Kebbi Principality — 
Founded, 196 
Importance of, 275 
Katsena. See that title 
Partly Fulani, 283, 284 
Struggle with Bornu, 276, 277, 284 
Kontagora, hostile attitude to British, 

421, 422, 426 
Kororofa, State of, 238 
Kuka or Kaougha. See under Songhay 

Labour. See Coloured labour, also 

Slave trade 
Laing, Major, explorer, 342 
Landor, Richard, explorer, 342 
Lauture, M. de, quoted, 21, 79, 378 
Lem-Lems or cannibals, 98 
Leo Africanus quoted, 254, 412 
Libyans. See Berber tribes 
Lugard, Col. Sir Frederick — 

Concludes treaty at Nikki, 359, 360 
High Commissioner, N. Nigeria, 364 
Organises West African Frontier 
Police, 361 
Lyon, explorer, 342 

Maghreb. See Morocco 
Magic and talismans, 228, 229 
Makkari family, traders, 100-103 
Maloney, Captain, murder of, 436, 437 
Mansa Musa, King of Melle 
Pilgrimage to Mecca, 120-128 
Sends embassy to Merinite king, 

Masina, Fulani stronghold, 104, 381 

382, 386 
Mecca, Askia Abou Bekr visits, 185 
Melle, Empire of — 

Conquered by Askia, 192 
Decay and conquest by Songhay, 
121, 152, 166 



Melle, Empire oi {continue<f) 
Early history, 82, 105, 115 
Ibn Batuta's visit, 134-141 
Mansa Musa, reign of, 120-128 
Practices similar to those of Aztecs, 

137. 138 
Practices similar to those of N. 

Europe, 145, 149 
Sends presents to King of Morocco, 

75, 76, 127 
Songhay conquered, 120, 161 
System of administration, 142-151 
Trade and history of kings, 1 17-120 

Meroe — 

Civilisation of, 219-222 
Trade routes, 222-226 

Mineral resources of N. Nigeria, 489 

Misraim, burial of, 97 

Missionaries on W. Coast, 326 

Moguls. See Tamerlane 

Mohammed Abou Bekr. See Askia 

Mohammed ben Zergoun, 301-312 

Mohammed el Kanemi, campaign 
against Sultan Bello, 388, 395, 

Mohammed Koti, 202 

Mohammedanism — 

Melle and Songhay accept, 118-121 
Northern belt of Soudan converted, 

Taxes recognised by, 468-470 

Moors, The — 
Expulsion from Spain, 291-295 
Songhay conquered under Djouder 
Pasha, 296-314 

Morland, Colonel, 432, 433, 443 

Morocco — 
Arabs conquer, 27, 28 
City founded by Almoravides, 108 
Embassy to kingdom of Melle, 76, 

Gained by Merinites, 65, 66, 67 
Learning and splendour at Fez, 

List of presents to Sultan of Turkey, 

75, 76 
Mossi, State of^ 

Attacks Melle, 165, 175 

Conquered by Askia, 192 

Conquest by Sonni Ali, 178 
Mungo Park — 

Journeys, 341, 351 

Quoted, 373, 375, 2,76 

Musa Nosseyr, and conquest of N. 

Africa and Spain, 25-30 
Muskets in use in Hornu, 278, 280 

African Co. formed, 
; (later see Royal Nij{cr 



Native labour. See Coloured labour, 

also Slave trade 
Negro, admixture of Arab blood, 83 
Negroland. See also Soudan- 
Arab dealings with, 84 
Early records, 81, 82 
El Bekri's account, 85-87 
Frontage upon civilisation reversed 

after 1500, 188 
Genealogies and dynasties traced 

through female line, 119, 131 
Inferior races driven south, 20-21, 

22, 23 
No Spanish Arab conquest prior 

to seventeenth century, 79 
Physical features and boundaries, 

Sidjilmessa, 87 

Tide of progress from West east- 
ward, also decadence, 78, 82 
Western routes from N. Africa, 
Niger, The — 

El Bekri's account, 105 
Ibn Batuta's description, 133 
Richness of lower reaches, 366 
Trade of Niger Co. and Royal Niger 

Co. See those titles 
Watershed, value of, 352 
Niger Company, trade expansion to 

North, 367-371 
Nigeria — 

Boundaries of, 356-358, 362 
Divided into North and South 

Nigeria, 363, 364 
Geographical position, 7, 21 
North Nigeria. See that title 
Race to secure treaty at Nikki, 
Nigretis Tribe, 20 
Nikki, Treaty of, 359, 360 
North Africa — 

Arab conquest, 24-29 
Three natural zones, 7-9 
Turkish conquest, 286-288, 
2 K 




Northern Nigeria, British administra- 
tion — 
Climate, 482 

Communication, means of, 482, 484 
Early history, 417-425 
Expeditions against Yola and Bornu, 


Future of, potential resources, 

Installation of new Emirs, 449-459 

Judicial system, 477-480 

Kano occupied, 438-446 

Native hatred of Fulani rule, 442, 443 

Oath of allegiance, 457 

Organisation of British administra- 
tion, 480-482 

Policy of working through native 
chiefs, 426-430 

Railways urgently needed, 482, 498, 

Sokoto, expedition and occupation, 

System of Emirs and Chiefs, 456, 459 
Taxation — 

Mohammedan States, 468-475 

Pagan States, 476, 477 
Trade — 

Caravans and tolls, 492, 495 

With outer world, prospects, 491, 

Nupe, Kingdom of — 
Great antiquity, 106 
Hostile attitude to British, 421, 422 
Pacification, 427-429 

Oil Rivers Protectorate, 366 
Oudney, Dr., 342 

Paganism — 

Customs and legends, Haussaland, 

Driven ever farther south, 116 

Fetishism, 317-319 ; decay of, 260, 

West Coast Africa, low type, 334 
Park. See Mungo Park 
Persian influence in Negroland, 94,95 
Pharaohs. See Egypt 
Pharusii Tribe, 20 
Phoenicians, The — 

Civilisation of, 10-13 

Organisation of States, 240-242 

Portugal — 

Embassies to Sonni Ali and to 
Mossi, 177, 178 

Exploration of W. African Coast, 

Fulani prince visits Lisbon, 176 

Pope's Bull dividing unknown terri- 
tories, 186, 187 

Settlements on W. African Coast, 

• 323-325 

Vasco da Gama's expedition, 187, 
Printing, invention of, 290 
Punishments, barbarous, 200 

Railways, urgent need for, 482, 

Religion follows movement of races, 


Residents' duties in British Pro- 
tectorates, 480, 481 

Ritchie, explorer, 342 

Roman occupation of Northern Africa, 

Royal African Co., history of, 330-332, 

Royal Niger Co. See also Niger Co. 
Campaign against Nupe, 360-371 
History of, 355-3^5 

Rubber forests, 486 

Sa kingdom in Tripoli, 160 
Sakora, King of Melle, 119, 120 
Salt mines of Tegazza, 297 
Saracens, 315 

Sardinia spoiled by Musa, 27 
Scythians, characteristics similar to 

those of Berbers, 33, 34 
Second sight practised, 393 
Sicily spoiled by Musa Nosseyr, 27 
Sidjilmessa. See under Negroland 
Sierra Leone, colony founded, 343, 

Silla, Kingdom of, 104 
Slave trade, The — 
Abolition — 

Compensation for loss of revenue, 

Problems of transition period, 
Attitude of Mohammedan blacks, 



Slave trade, The {continued) 
Coloured labour. See that title 
English trade, sixteenth century, 


Haussaland, 259, 407 

Proclamation by British Adminis- 
trator, 423, 428, 430 

Raiding described, 408-416 

West Coast of Africa, trade, 333-341, 

343, 344 
Sokoto — 

Occupied by British, 447, 448 
Proclamation, Emir installed, 449- 

Songhay, Kingdom of — 

Accepts Mohammedanism, 120 
Askia Abou Bekr, reign of, 181-185, 

188, 190-198, 211 
Askia dynasty, following Abou Bekr, 

2 1 1-2 1 5 
Capital, Kaougha, or Kaukaw, 18, 

105, 120, 157 
Conquered by Melle, 120, 161 
Conquers Melle, 121, 152, 166 
Decadent condition, Moorish in- 
vasion, 282 
Eastern portion unconquered by 

Moors, 304, 305,313 
Flourishing condition under Askia, 

History and legends of the race, 

Moors, conquest of, 296-305 
Sonni AH, reign of, 166-175, 177-180 
Wars with Masinaand Fulanis, 382, 

Sonni Ali, Songhay king — 

Conquests and reign, 166-175, 177- 

Trade with Portugal, 177 
Soudan — 

British Government first appears, 

Cut off from civilised world (by 

Turkish conquests), 188-190, 315, 

Eastern Soudan possible home of 

civilisation, 17 
Egyptian expedition under Pharaoh, 

Face towards civilisation south not 

north after 1500, 320, 371, 372 
Immigration from Arabia, 18 

Soudan {continued) 

International race forierriiory, 350- 

355, 358-362 
Longevity of individuals and State, 

Moorish invasion — 

Songhay expedition, 296-314, 373 
Religion — 

Follows movement of races, 317, 

Three great movements, 319 
Royal marriages with conquered 

royalties, 193 
Spain — 

Almoravides and Almohades rule, 

Andalusians, contemporary esti- 
mate, 69-72 
Arab conquest, 29-32 
Brigand and King of Seville, 63 
Brilliant civilisation under Om- 

meyades, 32-49 
Christian families deported to N- 

Africa, 64 
Cordova, Toledo, Malaga, Seville, 

during Arab civilisation, 40-49, 61 
Decay of Arab power, conquest by 

Yusuf, 52, 55-57 
Huddites, Moslem kingdom, 67 
Moors expelled, 291-295 
Ommeyades dynasty ends, 51 
Spain and Africa — 

Break up into three Powers, 67 
Dual Empire, 56-66