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and little bits of iron, which made a horrid jingling noise. Before he entered the village, he announced his approach by running round it, uttering frightful howlings, and rattling his noisy appendages. He was followed by a number of boys, dressed like himself. I heard some old men, who were sitting conversing together at their doors, call out to the Lou, not to go that way, as there were people there; and he and his retinue immediately turned
During a great part of the night I could get no sleep, on account of the howling of these savages.'-vol. i. pp. 400, 401.
The author's description of the economy of a caravan is well drawn; we hope that our epicurean readers will excuse the introduction of the adventure at Cacorou.
On the 13th, at four in the morning, we prepared to depart; but, before I proceed farther, I will endeavour to give a description of the whole econoiny
of our caravan. It was composed of from forty to fifty Mandingoes, and thirty-five women, all carrying loads on their heads. There were eight chiefs leading their asses, about fifteen in number. With these chiefs were their slaves and women, whose business it was to carry the baggage and cook at every halt for the whole caravan. The women always proceeded first, and the men in the rear. The ringing of their bells gave notice of their approach. The Mandingoes are very fond of bells, the jingling of which diverts them on their journey. 'T'hey make these bells themselves of iron and copper, which they purchase at Jenné, and in other markets on the banks of the Dhioliba, where they likewise procure bells ready made. On arriving at a village, the women of the caravan fetch water and bruise the millet for dinner. This meal being over, they prepare warm water for the men's baths; the water is heated in large vessels, which they borrow from the people of the village where they stop. This task being ended, they again set about bruising millet for supper. It is the business of the slaves to procure fire-wood for cooking. The free negroes are exempted from all this trouble ; they lie down and rest themselves until their meals are ready: they then go through the village with their calabashes, containing colats, which they exchange with the inhabitants for cowries. With these they purchase grain for the supply of the
The women employ their leisure moments in spinning cotton, which they purchase with the colats given to them by their husbands. I have seen them spin by the light of a lamp fed with vegetable butter; the produce of this labour is their own little perquisite. On their arrival at Jenné, they sell their spun cotton for cowries, with which they buy salt and glass trinkets. The women likewise wash the men's clothes. The men, as soon they have rested themselves, inspect the loads of colats, especially those which during the journey have fallen from the asses' backs. They cover the fruit with fresh leaves, in order to keep it cool; they then go into the village to dispose of their cloth; they also settle the payment of the passage money; for all foreign merchants, however numerous they may be, are obliged in every place they halt to pay for the whole of the company, a small tax, the amount of which sometimes varies, but is generally about twenty colats for each load: these twenty colats are worth two hundred cowries, (about twenty sous, French money). When the caravan is numerous, which often happens, for it gains accessions on the road, some person who has but a small load goes forward, and arrives first
in the village to procure lodgings for his companions; he then deposits his load and returns to meet his friends, whom he directs to their respective destinations. Those who do not adopt this prudent precaution have the trouble of seeking through the village for a place to put up at, and are often obliged to proceed farther. It is customary for the parties who first reach the village to return and help the others with their burdens, especially when the journey has been long.
On the 13th of January, we set out at four o`clock in the morning, in order to take advantage of the cool air. We went on for five miles more without seeing the least trace of cultivation, and at ten o'clock in the morning arrived at Cacorou, where we halted. This village contains from five to six hundred inhabitants, to whom I was an object of great curiosity. As I had not yet breakfasted, I went to a Bambara woman, who was pounding boiled yams! I bought some of her for a few glass beads, and she gave me separately, in a small pot, some gombo sauce. On dipping my yams into this sauce, I discovered, to my great mortification, some little
paws, and immediately ascertained that the sauce was made of mice ; however, I was hungry, and I continued my meal, though I must confess, not without some feelings of disgust. The negroes, when they take their yams without sauce, never mash them; those which I bought from the negress were ready prepared. In the evening I saw many women chopping mice to make sauce for their suppers. I observed that they gut the animals, and, without taking the trouble of skinning them, merely draw them across the fire to singe off the hair; thus prepared, they lay them in a corner of the hut, and it is not unusual to keep them there for seven or eight days before they are cooked. The mice, which make their way into the jars of millet, are caught by the women and children without the aid of traps.' -vol. i. pp. 366-368.
Our traveller was detained four months at the village of Timé, by an attack of scurvy. His account of that place and its environs, and also of the village of Sambatikila, is diversified with interesting notices of the character and manners of their inhabitants. He describes the Wassalou country as very fertile, it being watered by many large streams, which enrich the soil. It brings forth in abundance every thing which is necessary for man in an unsophisticated state. The inhabitants are gentle, humane, and very hospitable.' Indeed, according to M. Caillié, the whole of this fine district is a sort of Paradise.
' The women manufacture earthen pots for their housekeeping; for this purpose they use a grey clay, which they find on the banks of the streams; they knead it, and clear it of all extraneous matter, and when of the proper consistence, it is easily worked : having brought it into the right form, they polish it by degrees with their hands, and the vessels, when finished, are placed in the shade to dry slowly, for the heat of the sun would crack them; when half dry, they are again polished with a piece of wood made for the purpose; in this way they become quite shining, and are again set to dry. Before they are completely hardened, they are exposed to a gentle sun, and eight or ten days afterwards they are piled one upon another, between two layers of millet-straw, which is set on fire to complete the baking. Vessels which are thus made come out quite glazed and of a greyish colour ; they
are usually round, with a little rim round the top, and no handle; they very much resemble what are made all through Fouta-Dhialon and Kankan. The amiable inhabitants of this happy country live as if they were all of one family. Each hamlet is composed of twelve or fourteen huts, or even fewer, surrounded by a clumsy and tasteless wooden palisade. In the centre of this little group of huts is a court, into which they all open; the cattle are shut up in this court at night, but the calves have a separate enclosure ; it is the business of the women to milk the cows. There are usually two outer doors to this court, at each of which is a forked piece of wood, which you are sometimes obliged to stride over, as it is not always very easy to squeeze past it, and I have found it very troublesome, on various occasions, in my Arabian costume. These forks are thus placed to prevent the cattle from straying at night, and there is another entrance without this kind of barricade through which they are brought in and out.
*The women, who are employed in cooking, perform their operations in the open air. The inhabitants are in general very dirty and ill-clothed; their costume resembles that of the natives of Toron; and, like them, they use tobacco and snuff. They plait their hair in tresses, wear ear-rings of small beads and necklaces, and iron bracelets on their legs and arms, like the women. They are Foulahs, but do not speak the Foulah language. Their complexion, which is lighter than that of the Mandingoes, is of a darker hue than the negroes of Fouta-Dhialon. I tried to discover whether they had any religion of their own: whether they worshipped fetishes, or the sun, moon, or stars; but I could never perceive any religious ceremony amongst them, and I suspect that they are careless on the subject, and trouble themselves very little with theology: if they had any specific belief of their own, instead of encouraging Mussulmans and Grigris, they would scorn them, and adhere to the superstition of their country. Small hamlets are to be seen at short distances from one another all over the country. The inhabitants grow a great quantity of cotton, of which they manufacture cloth, and sell it to dealers, who carry it to Kankan. The looms which they use for weaving cloth are like ours, but smaller; the breadths are not more than five inches wide : the slays are of reed, and they have a shuttle like ours with small bobbins, which they fasten to the shuttle with a thin bit of wire, or a small piece of reed; they do not weave fast. The women sit in their courts, and spin cotton; as they do not understand carding, their thread is coarse and uneven; they use the same kind of spindle which is employed by the negresses of the Senegal.'-vol. i. pp. 302—-304.
In the extract which we have already given relating to the Lous, the author mentions a similar confederacy which he had already encountered, under the name of Simos. We shall transcribe his account of the latter, which is very curious.
Amongst the tribes on the banks of the Rio Nunez there is a secret society, not unlike that of the freemasons. It has a head, who is called the Simo; he makes laws, and they are executed under his authority. This Simo lives in the woods, and is never seen by the uninitiated; he is attended by pupils who are partly initiated in the mysteries. Sometimes he assumes the form of a pelican, sometimes he is wrapped up in the skins of wild beasts, and sometimes covered from head to foot with leaves, which conceal his real shape.
Novices may be initiated at several different times of the year. The families in several different villages, wbo wish to have their children admitted, collect all the boys between the ages of twelve and fourteen, and send for the Simo. He comes to the place in disguise, to circumcise the children, none but candidates being present at the operation ; the ceremony is accompanied by a great feast, at the expense of the parents, who contribute according to their respective means. The feast lasts sometimes for several days; after it is over, the Simo withdraws to the woods, and takes with him the boys who have been initiated; from this time forward, they have no further communication with their relatives. They lead a pleasant idle life; provisions are bestowed upon them in abundance, and they dwell in huts made of the branches of trees, with no other clothing than a few palm leaves skilfully arranged, from the loins half way down the thighs, the head and the rest of the body being quite naked.
• I have often seen them go by with two calabashes of palm-wine slung at the two ends of a stick, which they carried on their shoulder. They walk at a prodigious rate, and seem afraid of being seen. When the Simo or his disciples meet a stranger in the wood, they ask him for the watchword of the order; if the answer is correct, the stranger is admitted amongst them ; if not, the master and his pupils, all armed with sticks and rods, attack him, and, after beating him severely, exact a high ransom. If an uncircumcised boy falls into their hands, they circumcise him and keep him, for the purpose of initiating him. They have no mercy upon women, whom they beat most cruelly, and, as I have been told, they are sometimes barbarous enough to kill them.
• The young persons thus initiated lead this idle and vagabond life for seven or eight years; this period, it is said, is necessary for their instruction. When the parents are desirous of getting them back from the woods, they collect all the pagnes they can, and make with them a fine girdle, which they adorn with copper bells, and send it to their children, with a present of tobacco and rum for the master. It is only at such times that the son shows himself in public.
• The eve of this festival is celebrated in the woods, near the spot where he is to make his appearance, and he gives notice by his loud shouts that he means to be visible. Without this notice no person excepting the uninitiated durst look at him, for they are foolish enough to think it unlucky, and if they were to feel ill after it, they would not fail to ascribe it to the unfortunate glance.
. On the festival day, the Simo again announces his approach by frightful howlings, which are imitated by his pupils with cows' horns. They are all armed with whips, in token of their authority. Those who have been formerly initiated, and reside in the neighbouring villages, collect and join in the rejoicings. They dress themselves in their best apparel, and, preceded by the music of the country, march at the head of the troop. After having complimented the Simo, they make him a little present, and conduct him in triumph to the village, with the sound of the tomtom. Those who are present accompany the music with their monotonous singing and fire off guns. The women also assemble, singing, and bearing each a calabash of rice, which they fling at the Simo, by way of offering, amid dances and shouts of joy:
• These festivals are usually very gay; much palm-wine and rum are
drunk, sheep and oxen are killed, and there is great feasting, which lasts several days. When all this rejoicing is over, the children whose parents cannot afford to make presents to the Simo, return with him into the woods, and continue the same course of life for seven or eight years longer. When they are old enough to be serviceable, however, they are allowed to help their parents, at the approach of the rainy season, to work in the fields ; after which they return to the woods and the master employs them in cultivating his land.
• When the initiated return to their families, they set up before their doors a tree, or merely a stake, at the end of which is suspended a small piece of stuff, most commonly white. The tree or stake, whichever it may happen to be, is a gift from the master, in return for the handsome present which he has received.
They give the name of Simo to this tree or stake, and it becomes their tutelar deity; they respect and fear it so much, that, to prevent any one from going to a particular spot, it is only necessary to set up a Simo before it. They also swear by it, and believe that a false oath would draw upon them the vengeance of this mysterious demon; they are even afraid of lying lest they should provoke its interference.
• If anything is owing to them, or if any one has taken from them some article which they cannot recover, they piously address their prayers to this bit of wood, and offer it a sacrifice of rice, honey, or palm -wine, firing off a gun at its foot. This is a species of complaint which they make to the Simo, to petition for redress. From this time, if any of the debtor's family should fall sick, it is ascribed to the agency of the Simo; the relations in a fright hasten to discharge the debt, to return what has been stolen, or to make reparation if any insult has been offered.
- They believe in sorcery and witchcraft; whoever is suspected of sorcery is forth with delivered to the Simo, who acts as chief magistrate. The accused is questioned, and if he confesses, he is condemned to pay a fine; if, on the other hand, he maintains his innocence, he is compelled to drink a liquor made with the bark of a tree which gives to water a beautiful red colour. The accused and the accuser are obliged to swallow the same medicine, or rather poison ; they must drink it fasting and entirely naked, except that the accused is allowed a white
which he wraps round his loins. The liquor is poured into a small calabash, and the accuser and accused are forced to take an equal quantity, until, unable to swallow more, they expel it or die. If the poison is expelled by vomiting, the accused is innocent, and then he has a right to reparation; if it passes downwards, he is deemed not absolutely innocent; and if it should not pass at all at the time, he is judged to be guilty.
• I have been assured that few of these wretched creatures survive this ordeal; they are compelled to drink so large a dose of the poison, that they die almost immediately. If, however, the family of the accused consent to pay an indemnity, the unhappy patient is excused from drinking any more liquor; he is then put into a bath of tepid water, and by the application of both feet to the abdomen, they make him cast up the poison which he has swallowed.
• This cruel ordeal is employed for all sorts of crimes. The consequence is, that though it may sometimes lead to the confession of crimes, it also induces the innocent to acknowledge themselves guilty, rather than submit to it.