Part 6 out of 7
with thirty Arab and Negro matchlockmen. They are now in ruins, having
been dismantled by orders from Aden.
 The former is an Arab craft, the latter belongs to the Northern Coasts
of Western India.
 A turban.
 The wild animals have now almost entirely disappeared. As will
afterwards be shown, the fair since 1848 has diminished to one third its
 This subject has been fully discussed in Chap. IV.
 The old Persians.
 Especially the sea-board Habr Gerbajis clans,--the Musa Arrah, the Ali
Said, and the Saad Yunis--are interested in asserting their claims.
 Yunis and Ahmed were brothers, children of Nuh, the ninth in descent
from Ishak el Hazrami. The former had four sons, Hosh Yunis, Gedid Yunis,
Mahmud Yunis, and Shirdon Yunis; their descendants are all known as the
Ayyal or progeny of Yunis. The Ayyal Ahmed Nuh hold the land immediately
behind the town, and towards the Ghauts, blend with the Eesa Musa. The
Mikahil claim the Eastern country from Siyaro to Illanti, a wooded valley
affording good water and bad anchorage to wind-bound vessels.
 In the centre of the gap is a detached rock called Daga Malablay.
 It was measured by Lt. Herne, who remarks of this range that "cold in
winter, as the presence of the pine-tree proves, and cooled in summer by
the Monsoon, abounding in game from a spur fowl to an elephant; this hill
would make an admirable Sanitarium." Unfortunately Gulays is tenanted by
the Habr Gerhajis, and Wagar by the Eesa Musa, treacherous races.
 This part of Somali land is a sandy plain, thinly covered with thorns
and bounded by two ranges, the Ghauts and Sub-Ghauts. The latter or
maritime mountains begin at Tajurrah, and extend to Karam (long. 46° E.),
where they break into detached groups; the distance from the coast varies
from 6 to 15 miles, the height from 2000 to 3000 feet, and the surface is
barren, the rock being denuded of soil by rain. The Ghauts lie from 8 to
40 miles from the sea, they average from 4000 to 6000 feet, are thickly
covered with gum-arabic and frankincense trees, the wild fig and the
Somali pine, and form the seaward wall of the great table-land of the
interior. The Northern or maritime face is precipitous, the summit is
tabular and slopes gently southwards. The general direction is E. by N.
and W. by S., there are, however, some spurs at the three hills termed
"Ourat," which project towards the north. Each portion of the plain
between these ranges has some local name, such as the "Shimberali Valley"
extending westwards from the detached hill Dimoli, to Gauli, Dinanjir and
Gularkar. Intersected with Fiumaras which roll torrents during the
monsoon, they are covered with a scrub of thorns, wild fig, aloe, and
different kinds of Cactus.
 The climate of Berberah is cool during the winter, and though the sun
is at all times burning, the atmosphere, as in Somali land generally, is
healthy. In the dry season the plain is subject to great heats, but lying
open to the north, the sea-breeze is strong and regular. In the monsoon
the air is cloudy, light showers frequently fall, and occasionally heavy
storms come up from the southern hills.
 I quote Lieut. Cruttenden. The Berberah water has acquired a bad name
because the people confine themselves to digging holes three or four feet
deep in the sand, about half-a-mile from high-water mark. They are
reconciled to it by its beneficial effects, especially after and before a
journey. Good water, however, can be procured in any of the Fiumaras
intersecting the plain; when the Hajj Sharmarkay's towers commanded the
town wells, the people sank pits in low ground a few hundred yards
distant, and procured a purer beverage. The Banyans, who are particular
about their potations, drink the sweet produce of Siyaro, a roadstead
about nineteen miles eastward of Berberah.
 The experiment was tried by an officer who brought from Bombay a
batch of sparrows and crows. The former died, scorbutic I presume; the
latter lingered through an unhappy life, and to judge from the absence of
young, refused to entail their miseries upon posterity.
 The climate of Aden, it may be observed, has a reputation for
salubrity which it does not deserve. The returns of deaths prove it to be
healthy for the European soldier as London, and there are many who have
built their belief upon the sandy soil of statistics. But it is the
practice of every sensible medical man to hurry his patients out of Aden;
they die elsewhere,--some I believe recover,--and thus the deaths caused
by the crater are attributed statistically to Bombay or the Red Sea.
Aden is for Asiatics a hot-bed of scurry and ulcer. Of the former disease
my own corps, I am informed, had in hospital at one time 200 cases above
the usual amount of sickness; this arises from the brackish water, the
want of vegetables, and lastly the cachexy induced by an utter absence of
change, diversion, and excitement. The ulcer is a disease endemic in
Southern Arabia; it is frequently fatal, especially to the poorer classes
of operatives, when worn out by privation, hardship, and fatigue.
 The Abban is now the pest of Berberah. Before vessels have cast
anchor, or indeed have rounded the Spit, a crowd of Somal, eager as hotel-
touters, may be seen running along the strand. They swim off, and the
first who arrives on board inquires the name of the Abban; if there be
none he touches the captain or one of the crew and constitutes himself
protector. For merchandise sent forward, the man who conveys it becomes
The system of dues has become complicated. Formerly, the standard of value
at Berberah was two cubits of the blue cotton-stuff called Sauda; this is
now converted into four pice of specie. Dollars form the principal
currency; rupees are taken at a discount. Traders pay according to degree,
the lowest being one per cent., taken from Muscat and Suri merchants. The
shopkeeper provides food for his Abban, and presents him at the close of
the season with a Tobe, a pair of sandals, and half-a-dozen dollars.
Wealthy Banyans and Mehmans give food and raiment, and before departure
from 50 to 200 dollars. This class, however, derives large profits; they
will lend a few dollars to the Bedouin at the end of the Fair, on
condition of receiving cent. per cent., at the opening of the next season.
Travellers not transacting business must feed the protector, but cannot
properly be forced to pay him. Of course the Somal take every advantage of
Europeans. Mr. Angelo, a merchant from Zanzibar, resided two months at
Bulhar; his broker of the Ayyal Gedid tribe, and an Arab who accompanied
him, extracted, it is said, 3000 dollars. As a rule the Abban claims one
per cent. on sales and purchases, and two dollars per head of slaves. For
each bale of cloth, half-a-dollar in coin is taken; on gums and coffee the
duty is one pound in twenty-seven. Cowhides pay half-a-dollar each, sheep
and goat's skins four pice, and ghee about one per cent.
Lieut. Herne calculates that the total money dues during the Fair-season
amount to 2000 dollars, and that, in the present reduced state of
Berberah, not more than 10,000_l._ worth of merchandize is sold. This
estimate the natives of the place declare to be considerably under the
 The similarity between the Persian "Gach" and this cement, which is
found in many ruins about Berberah, has been remarked by other travellers.
 The following note by Dr. Carter of Bombay will be interesting to
"Of the collection of geological specimens and fossils from Berberah above
mentioned, Lieut. Burton states that the latter are found on the plain of
Berberah, and the former in the following order between the sea and the
summits of mountains (600 feet high), above it--that is, the ridge
immediate behind Berberah.
"1. Country along the coast consists of a coralline limestone, (tertiary
formation,) with drifts of sand, &c. 2. Sub-Ghauts and lower ranges (say
2000 feet high), of sandstone capped with limestone, the former
preponderating. 3. Above the Ghauts a plateau of primitive rocks mixed
with sandstone, granite, syenite, mica schiste, quartz rock, micaceous
"The fawn-coloured fossils from his coralline limestone are evidently the
same as those of the tertiary formation along the south-east coast of
Arabia, and therefore the same as those of Cutch; and it is exceedingly
interesting to find that among the blue-coloured fossils which are
accompanied by specimens of the blue shale, composing the beds from which
they have been weathered out, are species of Terebratula Belemnites,
identical with those figured in Grant's Geology of Cutch; thus enabling us
to extend those beds of the Jurassic formation which exist in Cutch, and
along the south-eastern coast of Arabia, across to Africa."
 These animals are tolerably tame in the morning, as day advances
their apprehension of man increases.
 Lieut. Cruttenden in considering what nation could have constructed,
and at what period the commerce of Berberah warranted, so costly an
undertaking, is disposed to attribute it to the Persian conquerors of Aden
in the days of Anushirwan. He remarks that the trade carried on in the Red
Sea was then great, the ancient emporia of Hisn Ghorab and Aden prosperous
and wealthy, and Berberah doubtless exported, as it does now, ivory, gums,
and ostrich feathers. But though all the maritime Somali country abounds
in traditions of the Furs or ancient Persians, none of the buildings near
Berberah justify our assigning to them, in a country of monsoon rain and
high winds, an antiquity of 1300 years.
The Somal assert that ten generations ago their ancestors drove out the
Gallas from Berberah, and attribute these works to the ancient Pagans.
That nation of savages, however, was never capable of constructing a
scientific aqueduct. I therefore prefer attributing these remains at
Berberah to the Ottomans, who, after the conquest of Aden by Sulayman
Pacha in A.D. 1538, held Yemen for about 100 years, and as auxiliaries of
the King of Adel, penetrated as far as Abyssinia. Traces of their
architecture are found at Zayla and Harar, and according to tradition,
they possessed at Berberah a settlement called, after its founder, Bunder
 Here, as elsewhere in Somali land, the leech is of the horse-variety.
It might be worth while to attempt breeding a more useful species after
the manner recommended by Capt. R. Johnston, the Sub-Assistant Commissary
General in Sindh (10th April, 1845). In these streams leeches must always
be suspected; inadvertently swallowed, they fix upon the inner coat of the
stomach, and in Northern Africa have caused, it is said, some deaths among
the French soldiers.
 Yet we observed frogs and a small species of fish.
 Either this or the sulphate of magnesia, formed by the decomposition
of limestone, may account for the bitterness of the water.
 They had been in some danger: a treacherous murder perpetrated a few
days before our arrival had caused all the Habr Gerbajis to fly from the
town and assemble 5000 men at Bulhar for battle and murder. This
proceeding irritated the Habr Awal, and certainly, but for our presence,
the strangers would have been scurvily treated by their "cousins."
 Of all the slave-dealers on this coast, the Arabs are the most
unscrupulous. In 1855, one Mohammed of Muscat, a shipowner, who, moreover,
constantly visits Aden, bought within sight of our flag a free-born Arab
girl of the Yafai tribe, from the Akarib of Bir Hamid, and sold her at
Berberah to a compatriot. Such a crime merits severe punishment; even the
Abyssinians visit with hanging the Christian convicted of selling a fellow
religionist. The Arab slaver generally marries his properly as a ruse, and
arrived at Muscat or Bushire, divorces and sells them. Free Somali women
have not unfrequently met with this fate.
 The Habr Tul Jailah (mother of the tribe of Jailah) descendants of
Ishak el Hazrami by a slave girl, inhabit the land eastward of Berberah.
Their principal settlements after Aynterad are the three small ports of
Karam, Unkor, and Hays. The former, according to Lieut. Cruttenden, is
"the most important from its possessing a tolerable harbour, and from its
being the nearest point from Aden, the course to which place is N. N. W.,
--consequently the wind is fair, and the boats laden with sheep for the
Aden market pass but one night at sea, whilst those from Berberah are
generally three. What greatly enhances the value of Kurrum (Karam),
however, is its proximity to the country of the Dulbahanteh, who approach
within four days of Kurrum, and who therefore naturally have their chief
trade through that port. The Ahl Tusuf, a branch of the Habertel Jahleh,
at present hold possession of Kurrum, and between them and the tribes to
windward there exists a most bitter and irreconcileable feud, the
consequence of sundry murders perpetrated about five years since at
Kurrum, and which hitherto have not been avenged. The small ports of
Enterad, Unkor, Heis, and Rukudah are not worthy of mention, with the
exception of the first-named place, which has a trade with Aden in sheep."
On Saturday, the 7th April 1855, the H. E. I. Company's Schooner "Mahi,"
Lieut. King, I. N., commanding, entered the harbour of Berberah, where her
guns roared forth a parting salute to the "Somali Expedition."
The Emporium of East Africa was at the time of my landing, in a state of
confusion. But a day before, the great Harar caravan, numbering 3000
souls, and as many cattle, had entered for the purpose of laying in the
usual eight months' supplies, and purchase, barter, and exchange were
transacted in most hurried and unbusiness-like manner. All day, and during
the greater part of night, the town rang with the voices of buyer and
seller: to specify no other articles of traffic, 500 slaves of both sexes
were in the market.  Long lines of laden and unladen camels were to be
seen pacing the glaring yellow shore; rumours of plundering parties at
times brought swarms of spear-men, bounding and yelling like wild beasts,
from the town; already small parties of travellers had broken ground for
their return journey; and the foul heap of mat hovels, to which this
celebrated mart had been reduced, was steadily shrinking in dimensions.
Our little party consisted of forty-two souls. At Aden I had applied
officially for some well-trained Somali policemen, but as an increase of
that establishment had been urged upon the home authorities, my request
was refused. We were fain to content ourselves with a dozen recruits of
various races, Egyptian, Nubian, Arab and Negro, whom we armed with sabres
and flint muskets. The other members of the expedition were our private
servants, and about a score of Somal under our rival protectors Jami Hasan
and Burhale Nuh. The Ras or Captain of the Kafilah was one Mahmud of the
Mijjarthayn, better known at Aden as El Balyuz or the Envoy: he had the
reputation of being a shrewd manager, thoroughly acquainted with the
habits and customs, as well as the geography, of Somaliland.
Our camp was pitched near the site of the proposed Agency, upon a rocky
ridge within musket-shot of the southern extremity of the creek, and about
three quarters of a mile distant from the town. This position had been
selected for the benefit of the "Mahi's" guns. Political exigencies
required the "Mahi" to relieve the "Elphinstone," then blockading the
seaboard of our old Arab foe, the Fazli chief; she was unable to remain
upon the coast, and superintend our departure, a measure which I had
strongly urged. Our tents were pitched in one line: Lieut. Stroyan's was
on the extreme right, about a dozen paces distant was the "Rowtie" 
occupied by Lieut. Herne and myself, and at a similar distance on the left
of the camp was that in which Lieut. Speke slept. The baggage was placed
between the two latter, the camels were tethered in front upon a sandy bed
beneath the ridge our camping-ground, and in rear stood the horses and
mules. During day-time all were on the alert: at night two sentries were
posted, regularly relieved, and visited at times by the Ras and ourselves.
I had little reason to complain of my reception at Berberah. The chiefs
appeared dissatisfied with the confinement of one Mohammed Sammattar, the
Abban who accompanied Lieut. Speke to the Eastern country: they listened,
however, with respectful attention to a letter in which the Political
Resident at Aden enjoined them to treat us with consideration and
There had been petty disputes with Burhale Nuh, and the elders of the Eesa
Musa tribe, touching the hire of horse-keepers and camel-drivers: such
events, however, are not worthy to excite attention in Africa. My friend
at Harar, the Shaykh Jami, had repeatedly called upon us, ate bread and
salt, recommended us to his fellow countrymen, and used my intervention in
persuading avaricious ship-owners to transport, gratis, pauper pilgrims to
Arabia. The people, after seeing the deaths of a few elephants, gradually
lowered their loud boasts and brawling claims: they assisted us in digging
a well, offered their services as guides and camel-drivers, and in some
cases insisted upon encamping near us for protection. Briefly, we saw no
grounds of apprehension. During thirty years, not an Englishman of the
many that had visited it had been molested at Berberah, and apparently
there was as little to fear in it as within the fortifications of Aden.
Under these favourable circumstances we might have set out at once towards
the interior. Our camels, fifty-six in number, had been purchased , and
the Ogadayn Caravan was desirous of our escort. But we wished to witness
the close of the Berberah fair, and we expected instruments and other
necessaries by the mid-April mail from Europe. 
About 8 P.M., on the 9th April, a shower, accompanied by thunder and
lightning, came up from the southern hills, where rain had been falling
for some days, and gave notice that the Gugi or Somali monsoon had begun.
This was the signal for the Bedouins to migrate to the Plateau above the
hills.  Throughout the town the mats were stripped from their
frameworks of stick and pole , the camels were laden, and thousands of
travellers lined the roads. The next day Berberah was almost deserted
except by the pilgrims who intended to take ship, and by merchants, who,
fearful of plundering parties, awaited the first favourable hour for
setting sail. Our protectors, Jami and Burhale, receiving permission to
accompany their families and flocks, left us in charge of their sons and
relations. On the 15th April the last vessel sailed out of the creek, and
our little party remained in undisputed possession of the place.
Three days afterwards, about noon, an Aynterad craft _en route_ from Aden
entered the solitary harbour freighted with about a dozen Somal desirous
of accompanying us towards Ogadayn, the southern region. She would have
sailed that evening; fortunately, however, I had ordered our people to
feast her commander and crew with rice and the irresistible dates.
At sunset on the same day we were startled by a discharge of musketry
behind the tents: the cause proved to be three horsemen, over whose heads
our guard had fired in case they might be a foraging party. I reprimanded
our people sharply for this act of folly, ordering them in future to
reserve their fire, and when necessary to shoot into, not above, a crowd.
After this we proceeded to catechise the strangers, suspecting them to be
scouts, the usual forerunners of a Somali raid: the reply was so plausible
that even the Balyuz, with all his acuteness, was deceived. The Bedouins
had forged a report that their ancient enemy the Hajj Sharmarkay was
awaiting with four ships at the neighbouring port, Siyaro, the opportunity
of seizing Berberah whilst deserted, and of re-erecting his forts there
for the third time. Our visitors swore by the divorce-oath,--the most
solemn which the religious know,--that a vessel entering the creek at such
unusual season, they had been sent to ascertain whether it had been
freighted with materials for building, and concluded by laughingly asking
if we feared danger from the tribe of our own protectors. Believing them,
we posted as usual two sentries for the night, and retired to rest in our
Between 2 and 3 A.M. of the 19th April I was suddenly aroused by the
Balyuz, who cried aloud that the enemy was upon us.  Hearing a rush of
men like a stormy wind, I sprang up, called for my sabre, and sent Lieut.
Herne to ascertain the force of the foray. Armed with a "Colt," he went to
the rear and left of the camp, the direction of danger, collected some of
the guard,--others having already disappeared,--and fired two shots into
the assailants. Then finding himself alone, he turned hastily towards the
tent; in so doing he was tripped up by the ropes, and as he arose, a
Somali appeared in the act of striking at him with a club. Lieut. Herne
fired, floored the man, and rejoining me, declared that the enemy was in
great force and the guard nowhere. Meanwhile, I had aroused Lieuts.
Stroyan and Speke, who were sleeping in the extreme right and left tents.
The former, it is presumed, arose to defend himself, but, as the sequel
shows, we never saw him alive.  Lieut. Speke, awakened by the report of
firearms, but supposing it the normal false alarm,--a warning to
plunderers,--he remained where he was: presently hearing clubs rattling
upon his tent, and feet shuffling around, he ran to my Rowtie, which we
prepared to defend as long as possible.
The enemy swarmed like hornets with shouts and screams intending to
terrify, and proving that overwhelming odds were against us: it was by no
means easy to avoid in the shades of night the jobbing of javelins, and
the long heavy daggers thrown at our legs from under and through the
opening of the tent. We three remained together: Lieut. Herne knelt by my
right, on my left was Lieut. Speke guarding the entrance, I stood in the
centre, having nothing but a sabre. The revolvers were used by my
companions with deadly effect: unfortunately there was but one pair. When
the fire was exhausted, Lieut. Herne went to search for his powder-horn,
and that failing, to find some spears usually tied to the tent-pole.
Whilst thus engaged, he saw a man breaking into the rear of our Rowtie,
and came back to inform me of the circumstance.
At this time, about five minutes after the beginning of the affray, the
tent had been almost beaten down, an Arab custom with which we were all
familiar, and had we been entangled in its folds, we should have been
speared with unpleasant facility. I gave the word for escape, and sallied
out, closely followed by Lieut. Herne, with Lieut. Speke in the rear. The
prospect was not agreeable. About twenty men were kneeling and crouching
at the tent entrance, whilst many dusk figures stood further off, or ran
about shouting the war-cry, or with shouts and blows drove away our
camels. Among the enemy were many of our friends and attendants: the coast
being open to them, they naturally ran away, firing a few useless shots
and receiving a modicum of flesh wounds.
After breaking through the mob at the tent entrance, imagining that I saw
the form of Lieut. Stroyan lying upon the sand, I cut my way towards it
amongst a dozen Somal, whose war-clubs worked without mercy, whilst the
Balyuz, who was violently pushing me out of the fray, rendered the strokes
of my sabre uncertain. This individual was cool and collected: though
incapacitated by a sore right-thumb from using the spear, he did not shun
danger, and passed unhurt through the midst of the enemy: his efforts,
however, only illustrated the venerable adage, "defend me from my
friends." I turned to cut him down: he cried out in alarm; the well-known
voice caused an instant's hesitation: at that moment a spearman stepped
forward, left his javelin in my mouth, and retired before he could be
punished. Escaping as by a miracle, I sought some support: many of our
Somal and servants lurking in the darkness offered to advance, but "tailed
off" to a man as we approached the foe. Presently the Balyuz reappeared,
and led me towards the place where he believed my three comrades had taken
refuge. I followed him, sending the only man that showed presence of mind,
one Golab of the Yusuf tribe, to bring back the Aynterad craft from the
Spit into the centre of the harbour . Again losing the Balyuz in the
darkness, I spent the interval before dawn wandering in search of my
comrades, and lying down when overpowered with faintness and pain: as the
day broke, with my remaining strength I reached the head of the creek, was
carried into the vessel, and persuaded the crew to arm themselves and
visit the scene of our disasters.
Meanwhile, Lieut. Herne, who had closely followed me, fell back, using the
butt-end of his discharged sixshooter upon the hard heads around him: in
so doing he came upon a dozen men, who though they loudly vociferated,
"Kill the Franks who are killing the Somal!" allowed him to pass
He then sought his comrades in the empty huts of the town, and at early
dawn was joined by the Balyuz, who was similarly employed. When day broke
he sent a Negro to stop the native craft, which was apparently sailing out
of the harbour, and in due time came on board. With the exception of
sundry stiff blows with the war-club, Lieut. Herne had the fortune to
On the other hand, Lieut. Speke's escape was in every way wonderful.
Sallying from the tent he levelled his "Dean and Adams" close to an
assailant's breast. The pistol refused to revolve. A sharp blow of a war-
club upon the chest felled our comrade, who was in the rear and unseen.
When he fell, two or three men sprang upon him, pinioned his hands behind,
felt him for concealed weapons,--an operation to which he submitted in
some alarm,--and led him towards the rear, as he supposed to be
slaughtered. There, Lieut. Speke, who could scarcely breathe from the pain
of the blow, asked a captor to tie his hands before, instead of behind,
and begged a drop of water to relieve his excruciating thirst. The savage
defended him against a number of the Somal who came up threatening and
brandishing their spears, he brought a cloth for the wounded man to lie
upon, and lost no time in procuring a draught of water.
Lieut. Speke remained upon the ground till dawn. During the interval he
witnessed the war-dance of the savages--a scene striking in the extreme.
The tallest and largest warriors marched in a ring round the tents and
booty, singing, with the deepest and most solemn tones, the song of
thanksgiving. At a little distance the grey uncertain light disclosed four
or five men, lying desperately hurt, whilst their kinsmen kneaded their
limbs, poured water upon their wounds, and placed lumps of dates in their
stiffening hands.  As day broke, the division of plunder caused angry
passions to rise. The dead and dying were abandoned. One party made a rush
upon the cattle, and with shouts and yells drove them off towards the
wild, some loaded themselves with goods, others fought over pieces of
cloth, which they tore with hand and dagger, whilst the disappointed,
vociferating with rage, struck at one another and brandished their spears.
More than once during these scenes, a panic seized them; they moved off in
a body to some distance; and there is little doubt that had our guard
struck one blow, we might still have won the day.
Lieut. Speke's captor went to seek his own portion of the spoil, when a
Somal came up and asked in Hindostani, what business the Frank had in
their country, and added that he would kill him if a Christian, but spare
the life of a brother Moslem. The wounded man replied that he was going to
Zanzibar, that he was still a Nazarene, and therefore that the work had
better be done at once:--the savage laughed and passed on. He was
succeeded by a second, who, equally compassionate, whirled a sword round
his head, twice pretended to strike, but returned to the plunder without
doing damage. Presently came another manner of assailant. Lieut. Speke,
who had extricated his hands, caught the spear levelled at his breast, but
received at the same moment a blow from a club which, paralyzing his arm,
caused him to lose his hold. In defending his heart from a succession of
thrusts, he received severe wounds on the back of his hand, his right
shoulder, and his left thigh. Pausing a little, the wretch crossed to the
other side, and suddenly passed his spear clean through the right leg of
the wounded man: the latter "smelling death," then leapt up, and taking
advantage of his assailant's terror, rushed headlong towards the sea.
Looking behind, he avoided the javelin hurled at his back, and had the
good fortune to run, without further accident, the gauntlet of a score of
missiles. When pursuit was discontinued, he sat down faint from loss of
blood upon a sandhill. Recovering strength by a few minutes' rest, he
staggered on to the town, where some old women directed him to us. Then,
pursuing his way, he fell in with the party sent to seek him, and by their
aid reached the craft, having walked and run at least three miles, after
receiving eleven wounds, two of which had pierced his thighs. A touching
lesson how difficult it is to kill a man in sound health! 
When the three survivors had reached the craft, Yusuf, the captain, armed
his men with muskets and spears, landed them near the camp, and
ascertained that the enemy, expecting a fresh attack, had fled, carrying
away our cloth, tobacco, swords, and other weapons.  The corpse of
Lieut. Stroyan was then brought on board. Our lamented comrade was already
stark and cold. A spear had traversed his heart, another had pierced his
abdomen, and a frightful gash, apparently of a sword, had opened the upper
part of his forehead: the body had been bruised with war-clubs, and the
thighs showed marks of violence after death. This was the severest
affliction that befell us. We had lived together like brothers: Lieut.
Stroyan was a universal favourite, and his sterling qualities of manly
courage, physical endurance, and steady perseverance had augured for him a
bright career, thus prematurely cut off. Truly melancholy to us was the
contrast between the evening when he sat with us full of life and spirits,
and the morning when we saw amongst us a livid corpse.
We had hoped to preserve the remains of our friend for interment at Aden.
But so rapid were the effects of exposure, that we were compelled most
reluctantly, on the morning of the 20th April, to commit them to the deep,
Lieut. Herne reading the funeral service.
Then with heavy hearts we set sail for the near Arabian shore, and, after
a tedious two days, carried to our friends the news of unexpected
 The Fair-season of 1864-56 began on the 16th November, and may be said
to have broken up on the 15th April.
The principal caravans which visit Berberah are from Harar the Western,
and Ogadayn, the Southern region: they collect the produce of the numerous
intermediate tribes of the Somal. The former has been described in the
preceding pages. The following remarks upon the subject of the Ogadayn
caravan are the result of Lieuts. Stroyan and Herne's observations at
"Large caravans from Ogadayn descend to the coast at the beginning and the
end of the Fair-season. They bring slaves from the Arusa country, cattle
in great quantities, gums of sorts, clarified butter, ivory, ostrich
feathers, and rhinoceros horns to be made into handles for weapons. These
are bartered for coarse cotton cloth of three kinds, for English and
American sheeting in pieces of seventy-five, sixty-six, sixty-two, and
forty-eight yards, black and indigo-dyed calicos in lengths of sixteen
yards, nets or fillets worn by the married women, iron and steel in small
bars, lead and zinc, beads of various kinds, especially white porcelain
and speckled glass, dates and rice."
The Ayyal Ahmed and Ayyal Yunis classes of the Habr Awal Somal have
constituted themselves Abbans or brokers to the Ogadayn Caravans, and the
rapacity of the patron has produced a due development of roguery in the
client. The principal trader of this coast is the Banyan from Aden find
Cutch, facetiously termed by the Somal their "Milch-cows." The African
cheats by mismeasuring the bad cotton cloth, and the Indian by falsely
weighing the coffee, ivory, ostrich feathers and other valuable articles
which he receives in return. Dollars and even rupees are now preferred to
the double breadth of eight cubits which constitutes the well known
 A Sepoy's tent, pent-house shaped, supported by a single transverse
and two upright poles and open at one of the long ends.
 Since returning I have been informed, however, by the celebrated
Abyssinian traveller M. Antoine d'Abbadie, that in no part of the wild
countries which he visited was his life so much perilled as at Berberah.
 Lieut. Speke had landed at Karam harbour on the 24th of March, in
company with the Ras, in order to purchase camels. For the Ayyun or best
description he paid seven dollars and a half; the Gel Ad (white camels)
cost on an average four. In five days he had collected twenty-six, the
number required, and he then marched overland from Karam to Berberah.
I had taken the precaution of detaching Lieut. Speke to Karam in lively
remembrance of my detention for want of carriage at Zayla, and in
consequence of a report raised by the Somal of Aden that a sufficient
number of camels was not procurable at Berberah. This proved false.
Lieuts. Stroyan and Herne found no difficulty whatever in purchasing
animals at the moderate price of five dollars and three quarters a head:
for the same sum they could have bought any reasonable number. Future
travellers, however, would do well not to rely solely upon Berberah for a
supply of this necessary, especially at seasons when the place is not
crowded with caravans.
 The Elders of the Habr Awal, I have since been informed, falsely
asserted that they repeatedly urged us, with warnings of danger, to leave
Berberah at the end of the fair, but that we positively refused
compliance, for other reasons. The facts of the case are those stated in
 They prefer travelling during the monsoon, on account of the abundance
 The framework is allowed to remain for use next Fair-season.
 The attacking party, it appears, was 350 strong; 12 of the Mikahil, 15
of the Habr Gerhajis, and the rest Eesa Musa. One Ao Ali wore, it is said,
the ostrich feather for the murder of Lieut. Stroyan.
 Mohammed, his Indian servant, stated that rising at my summons he had
rushed to his tent, armed himself with a revolver, and fired six times
upon his assassins. Unhappily, however, Mohammed did not see his master
fall, and as he was foremost amongst the fugitives, scant importance
attaches to his evidence.
 At this season native craft quitting Berberah make for the Spit late
in the evening, cast anchor there, and set sail with the land breeze
before dawn. Our lives hung upon a thread. Had the vessel departed, as she
intended, the night before the attack, nothing could have saved us from
 The Somal place dates in the hands of the fallen to ascertain the
extent of injury: he who cannot eat that delicacy is justly decided to be
 In less than a month after receiving such injuries, Lieut. Speke was
on his way to England: he has never felt the least inconvenience from the
wounds, which closed up like cuts in Indian-rubber.
 They had despised the heavy sacks of grain, the books, broken boxes,
injured instruments, and a variety of articles which they did not
understand. We spent that day at Berberah, bringing off our property, and
firing guns to recall six servants who were missing. They did not appear,
having lost no time in starting for Karam and Aynterad, whence they made
their way in safety to Aden. On the evening of the 19th of April, unable
to remove the heavier effects, and anxious to return with the least
possible delay, I ordered them to be set on fire.
DIARY AND OBSERVATIONS
MADE BY LIEUTENANT SPEKE, WHEN ATTEMPTING TO REACH THE WADY NOGAL.
On the 28th October, 1854, Lieutenant Speke arrived at Kurayat, a small
village near Las Kuray (Goree Bunder), in the country called by the Somal
"Makhar," or the eastern maritime region. During the period of three
months and a half he was enabled to make a short excursion above the
coast-mountains, visiting the Warsingali, the Dulbahanta, and the Habr
Gerhajis tribes, and penetrating into a region unknown to Europeans. The
bad conduct of his Abban, and the warlike state of the country, prevented
his reaching the "Wady Nogal," which, under more favourable circumstances
and with more ample leisure than our plans allowed him, he conceives to be
a work of little difficulty and no danger. He has brought back with him
ample notices of the region visited, and has been enabled to make a
valuable collection of the Fauna, which have been forwarded to the Curator
of the Royal As. Society's Museum, Calcutta. On the 15th February, 1855,
Lieutenant Speke revisited Kurayat, and there embarked for Aden.
Before proceeding to Lieutenant Speke's Journal, it may be useful to give
a brief and general account of the region explored.
The portion of the Somali country visited by Lieutenant Speke may be
divided into a Maritime Plain, a Range of Mountains, and an elevated
The Maritime Plain, at the points visited by Lieutenant Speke, is a sandy
tract overlying limestone, level to the foot of the hills, and varying
from half a mile to two miles in breadth. Water is not everywhere
procurable. At the village of Las Kuray, there is an old and well built
well, about twelve feet deep, producing an abundant and excellent supply.
It appears that the people have no implements, and are too barbarous to be
capable of so simple an engineering operation as digging. The vegetation
presents the usual appearance of salsolaceous plants thinly scattered over
the surface, with here and there a stunted growth of Arman or Acacia. The
watershed is of course from south to north, and the rain from the hills is
carried off by a number of Fiumaras or freshets, with broad shallow beds,
denoting that much of the monsoon rain falling in the mountains is there
absorbed, and that little finds its way to the sea. At this season (the
dry weather) the plain is thinly inhabited; there are no villages except
on the sea-shore, and even these were found by the traveller almost
entirely deserted, mostly women occupying the houses, whilst the men were
absent, trading and tending cattle in the hills. The harbours are,
generally speaking, open and shallow road-steads, where ships find no
protection; there is, however, one place (Las Galwayta), where, it is
said, deep water extends to the shore.
Meteorological observations show a moderate temperature, clear air, and a
regular north-easterly wind. It is probable that, unlike the Berberah
Plain, the monsoon rain here falls in considerable quantities. This land
belongs in part to the Warsingali. Westwards of Las Galwayta, which is the
frontier, the Habr Gerhajis lay claim to the coast. The two tribes, as
usual in that unhappy land, are on terms of "Dam" or blood-feud; yet they
The animals observed were, the Waraba, a dark-coloured cynhyena, with a
tail partly white, a grey jackal, and three different kinds of antelopes.
Besides gulls, butcher birds, and a description of sparrow, no birds were
found on the Maritime Plain.
The Range of Mountains is that long line which fringes the Somali coast
from Tajurrah to Ras Jerd Hafun (Cape Guardafui). In the portion visited
by Lieutenant Speke it is composed principally of limestones, some white,
others brownish, and full of fossil shells. The seaward face is a gradual
slope, yet as usual more abrupt than the landward side, especially in the
upper regions. Steep irregular ravines divide the several masses of hill.
The range was thinly covered with Acacia scrub in the lower folds. The
upper portion was thickly clad with acacia and other thorns, and upon the
summit, the Somali pine tree observed by me near Harar, and by Lieutenant
Herne at Gulays, first appeared. Rain had freshly fallen.
The animal creation was represented by the leopard, hyena, rhinoceros,
Waraba, four kinds of antelopes, hares and rats, tailless and long-tailed.
It is poor in sea birds (specimens of those collected have been forwarded
to the As. Society's Museum), and but one description of snake was
observed. These hills belong partly to the Warsingali, and partly to the
Habr Gerhajis. The frontier is in some places denoted by piles of rough
stones. As usual, violations of territorial right form the rule, not the
exception, and trespass is sure to be followed by a "war." The meteorology
of these hills is peculiar. The temperature appears to be but little lower
than the plain: the wind was north-easterly; and both monsoons bring heavy
At Yafir, on the summit of the hill, Lieutenant Speke's thermometer showed
an altitude of about 7500 feet. The people of the country do not know what
ice means. Water is very scarce in these hills, except during the monsoon:
it is found in springs which are far apart; and in the lower slopes
collected rain water is the sole resource. This scarcity renders the
habits of the people peculiarly filthy.
After descending about 2000 feet from the crest of the mountains to the
southern fall, Lieutenant Speke entered upon the platform which forms the
country of the Eastern Somal. He is persuaded that the watershed of this
extensive tract is from N.W. to S.E., contrary to the opinion of
Lieutenant Cruttenden, who, from information derived from the Somal,
determined the slope to be due south. "Nogal" appears, according to
Lieutenant Speke, to be the name of a tract of land occupied by the
Warsingali, the Mijjarthayn, and the northern clan of the Dulbahantas, as
Bohodlay in Haud is inhabited by the southern. Nogal is a sterile table-
land, here and there thinly grown with thorns, perfectly useless for
agriculture, and, unless it possess some mineral wealth, valueless. The
soil is white and stony, whereas Haud or Ogadayn is a deep red, and is
described as having some extensive jungles. Between the two lies a large
watercourse, called "Tuk Der," or the Long River. It is dry during the
cold season, but during the rains forms a flood, tending towards the
Eastern Ocean. This probably is the line which in our maps is put down as
"Wady Nogal, a very fertile and beautiful valley."
The surface of the plateau is about 4100 feet above the level of the sea:
it is a space of rolling ground, stony and white with broken limestone.
Water is found in pools, and in widely scattered springs: it is very
scarce, and in a district near and south of the hills Lieutenant Speke was
stopped by want of this necessary. The climate appeared to our traveller
delightful In some places the glass fell at 6 A.M. to 25°, yet at noon on
the same day the mercury rose to 76°. The wind was always N. E., sometimes
gentle, and occasionally blowing strongly but without dust. The rainy
monsoon must break here with violence, and the heat be fearful in the hot
season. The principal vegetation of this plateau was Acacia, scarce and
stunted; in some places under the hills and in the watercourses these
trees are numerous and well grown. On the other hand, extensive tracts
towards the south are almost barren. The natives speak of Malmal (myrrh)
and the Luban (incense) trees. The wild animals are principally antelopes;
there are also ostriches, onagers, Waraba, lions (reported to exist),
jackals, and vermin. The bustard and florikan appear here. The Nomads
possess large flocks of sheep, the camels, cows, and goats being chiefly
found at this season on the seaward side of the hills, where forage is
procurable. The horses were stunted tattoos, tolerably well-bred, but soft
for want of proper food. It is said that the country abounds in horses,
but Lieutenant Speke "doubts the fact." The eastern portion of the plateau
visited by our traveller belongs to the Warsingali, the western to the
Dulbahantas: the former tribe extends to the S. E., whilst the latter
possess the lands lying about the Tuk Der, the Nogal, and Haud. These two
tribes are at present on bad terms, owing to a murder which led to a
battle: the quarrel has been allowed to rest till lately, when it was
revived at a fitting opportunity. But there is no hostility between the
Southern Dulbahantas and the Warsingali, on the old principle that "an
enemy's enemy is a friend."
On the 21st October, 1854, Lieutenant Speke, from the effects of a stiff
easterly wind and a heavy sea, made by mistake the harbour of Rakudah.
This place has been occupied by the Rer Dud, descendants of Sambur, son of
Ishak. It is said to consist of an small fort, and two or three huts of
matting, lately re-erected. About two years ago the settlement was laid
waste by the rightful owners of the soil, the Musa Abokr, a sub-family of
the Habr Tal Jailah.
_22nd October_.--Without landing, Lieutenant Speke coasted along to Bunder
Hais, where he went on shore. Hais is a harbour belonging to the Musa
Abokr. It contains a "fort," a single-storied, flat-roofed, stone and mud
house, about 20 feet square, one of those artless constructions to which
only Somal could attach importance. There are neither muskets nor cannon
among the braves of Hais. The "town" consists of half a dozen mud huts,
mostly skeletons. The anchoring ground is shallow, but partly protected by
a spur of hill, and the sea abounds in fish. Four Buggaloes (native craft)
were anchored here, waiting for a cargo of Dumbah sheep and clarified
butter, the staple produce of the place. Hais exports to Aden, Mocha, and
other parts of Arabia; it also manufactures mats, with the leaves of the
Daum palm and other trees. Lieutenant Speke was well received by one Ali,
the Agil, or petty chief of the place: he presented two sheep to the
traveller. On the way from Bunder Jedid to Las Kuray, Lieutenant Speke
remarks that Las Galwayta would be a favourable site for a Somali
settlement. The water is deep even close to the shore, and there is an
easy ascent from it to the summit of the mountains. The consequence is
that it is coveted by the Warsingali, who are opposed by the present
proprietors, the Habr Gerhajis. The Sultan of the former family resists
any settlement for fear of dividing and weakening their force; it is too
far from their pastures, and they have not men enough for both purposes.
_28th October_.--Lieutenant Speke landed at Kurayat, near Las Kuray, and
sent a messenger to summon the chief, Mohammed Ali, Gerad or Prince of the
During a halt of twenty-one days, the traveller had an opportunity of
being initiated into the mysteries of Somali medicine and money hiding.
The people have but two cures for disease, one the actual cautery, the
other a purgative, by means of melted sheep's-tail, followed by such a
draught of camel's milk that the stomach, having escaped the danger of
bursting, is suddenly and completely relieved. It is here the custom of
the wealthy to bury their hoards, and to reveal the secret only when at
the point of death. Lieutenant Speke went to a place where it is said a
rich man had deposited a considerable sum, and described his "cache" as
being "on a path in a direct line between two trees as far as the arms can
reach with a stick." The hoarder died between forty and fifty years ago,
and his children have been prevented by the rocky nature of the ground,
and their forgetting to ask which was the right side of the tree, from
succeeding in anything beyond turning up the stones.
Las Kuray is an open roadstead for native craft. The town is considered
one of the principal strongholds of the coast. There are three large and
six small "forts," similar in construction to those of Hais; all are
occupied by merchants, and are said to belong to the Sultan. The mass of
huts may be between twenty and thirty in number. They are matted
buildings, long and flat-roofed; half a dozen families inhabit the same
house, which is portioned off for such accommodation. Public buildings
there are none, and no wall protects the place. It is in the territory of
the Warsingali, and owns the rule of the Gerad or Prince, who sometimes
lives here, and at other times inhabits the Jungle. Las Kuray exports
gums, Dumbah sheep, and guano, the latter considered valuable, and sent to
Makalla in Arabia, to manure the date plantations.
Four miles westward of Las Kuray is Kurayat, also called Little Kuray. It
resembles the other settlement, and is not worth description. Lieutenant
Speke here occupied a fort or stone house belong to his Abban; finding the
people very suspicious, he did not enter Las Kuray for prudential motives.
There the Sultan has no habitation; when he visited the place he lodged in
the house of a Nacoda or ship-captain.
Lieutenant Speke was delayed at Kurayat by the pretext of want of cattle;
in reality to be plundered. The Sultan, who inhabits the Jungle, did not
make his appearance till repeatedly summoned. About the tenth day the old
man arrived on foot, attended by a dozen followers; he was carefully
placed in the centre of a double line bristling with spears, and marched
past to his own fort. Lieutenant Speke posted his servants with orders to
fire a salute of small firearms. The consequence was that the evening was
spent in prayers.
During Lieutenant Speke's first visit to the Sultan, who received him
squatting on the ground outside the house in which he lodged, with his
guards about him, the dignitary showed great trepidation, but returned
salams with politeness.< He is described as a fine-looking man, between
forty-eight and fifty years of age; he was dressed in an old and dirty
Tobe, had no turban, and appeared unarmed. He had consulted the claims of
"dignity" by keeping the traveller waiting ten days whilst he journeyed
twenty miles. Before showing himself he had privily held a Durbar at Las
Kuray; it was attended by the Agils of the tribe, by Mohammed Samattar
(Lieutenant Speke's Abban), and the people generally. Here the question
was debated whether the traveller was to be permitted to see the country.
The voice of the multitude was as usual _contra_, fearing to admit a wolf
into the fold. It was silenced however by the Sultan, who thought fit to
favour the English, and by the Abban, who settled the question, saying
that he, as the Sultan's subject, was answerable for all that might
happen, and that the chief might believe him or not;--"how could such
Jungle-folk know anything?"
On the morning of the 8th November the Sultan returned Lieutenant Speke's
visit. The traveller took the occasion of "opening his desire to visit the
Warsingali country and the lands on the road to Berberah, keeping inland
about 200 miles, more or less according to circumstances, and passing
through the Dulbahantas." To this the Sultan replied, that "as far as his
dominions extended the traveller was perfectly at liberty to go where he
liked; but as for visiting the Dulbahantas, he could not hear of or
countenance it." Mahmud Ali, Gerad or Prince of the southern Dulbahantas,
was too far away for communication, and Mohammed Ali Gerad, the nearest
chief, had only ruled seven or eight years; his power therefore was not
great. Moreover, these two were at war; the former having captured, it is
said, 2000 horses, 400 camels, and a great number of goats and sheep,
besides wounding a man. During the visit, which lasted from 8 A.M. to 2
P.M., the Sultan refused nothing but permission to cross the frontier,
fearing, he said, lest an accident should embroil him with our Government.
Lieutenant Speke gave them to understand that he visited their country,
not as a servant of the Company, but merely as a traveller wishing to see
sport. This of course raised a laugh; it was completely beyond their
comprehension. They assured him, however, that he had nothing to apprehend
in the Warsingali country, where the Sultan's order was like that of the
English. The Abban then dismissed the Sultan to Las Kuray, fearing the
appetites of his followers; and the guard, on departure, demanded a cloth
each by way of honorarium. This was duly refused, and they departed in
discontent. The people frequently alluded to two grand grievances. In the
first place they complained of an interference on the part of our
Government, in consequence of a quarrel which took place seven years ago
at Aden, between them and the Habr Tal Jailah tribe of Karam. The
Political Resident, it is said, seized three vessels belonging to the
Warsingali, who had captured one of the ships belonging to their enemies;
the former had command of the sea, but since that event they have been
reduced to a secondary rank. This grievance appears to be based on solid
grounds. Secondly, they complained of the corruption of their brethren by
intercourse with a civilised people, especially by visiting Aden: the
remedy for this evil lies in their own hands, but desire of gain would
doubtless defeat any moral sanitary measure which their Elders could
devise. They instanced the state of depravity into which the Somal about
Berberah had fallen, and prided themselves highly upon their respect for
the rights of _meum_ and _tuum_, so completely disregarded by the Western
States. But this virtue may arise from the severity of their
chastisements; mutilation of the hand being the usual award to theft.
Moreover Lieutenant Speke's Journal does not impress the reader highly
with their honesty. And lastly, I have found the Habr Awal at Berberah, on
the whole, a more respectable race than the Warsingali.
Lieutenant Speke's delay at Kurayat was caused by want of carriage. He
justly remarks that "every one in this country appeals to precedent"; the
traveller, therefore, should carefully ascertain the price of everything,
and adhere to it, as those who follow him twenty years afterwards will be
charged the same. One of the principal obstacles to Lieutenant Speke's
progress was the large sum given to the natives by an officer who visited
this coast some years ago. Future travellers should send before them a
trusty Warsingali to the Sultan, with a letter specifying the necessary
arrangements, a measure which would save trouble and annoyance to both
On the 10th of November the Sultan came early to Lieutenant Speke's house.
He received a present of cloth worth about forty rupees. After comparing
his forearm with every other man's and ascertaining the mean, he measured
and re-measured each piece, an operation which lasted several hours. A
flint gun was presented to him, evidently the first he had ever handled;
he could scarcely bring it up to his shoulder, and persisted in shutting
the wrong eye. Then he began as usual to beg for more cloth, powder, and
lead. By his assistance Lieutenant Speke bought eight camels, inferior
animals, at rather a high price, from 10 to 16-1/2 cloths (equivalent to
dollars) per head. It is the custom for the Sultan, or in his absence, for
an Agil to receive a tithe of the price; and it is his part to see that
the traveller is not overcharged. He appears to have discharged his duty
very inefficiently, a dollar a day being charged for the hire of a single
donkey. Lieutenant Speke regrets that he did not bring dollars or rupees,
cloth on the coast being now at a discount.
After the usual troubles and vexations of a first move in Africa, on the
16th of November, 1854, Lieutenant Speke marched about three miles along
the coast, and pitched at a well close to Las Kuray. He was obliged to
leave about a quarter of his baggage behind, finding it impossible with
his means to hire donkeys, the best conveyance across the mountains, where
camels must be very lightly laden. The Sultan could not change, he said,
the route settled by a former Sahib. He appears, though famed for honesty
and justice, to have taken a partial view of Lieutenant Speke's property.
When the traveller complained of his Abban, the reply was, "This is the
custom of the country, I can see no fault; all you bring is the Abban's,
and he can do what he likes with it."
The next day was passed unpleasantly enough in the open air, to force a
march, and the Sultan and his party stuck to the date-bag, demanding to be
fed as servants till rations were served out to them.
_18th November_.--About 2 A.M. the camels (eleven in number) were lightly
loaded, portions of the luggage being sent back to Kurayat till more
carriage could be procured. The caravan crossed the plain southwards, and
after about two miles' march entered a deep stony watercourse winding
through the barren hills. After five miles' progress over rough ground,
Lieutenant Speke unloaded under a tree early in the afternoon near some
pools of sweet rain water collected in natural basins of limestone dotting
the watercourse. The place is called Iskodubuk; the name of the
watercourse is Duktura. The Sultan and the Abban were both left behind to
escort the baggage from Las Kuray to Kurayat. They promised to rejoin
Lieutenant Speke before nightfall; the former appeared after five, the
latter after ten, days. The Sultan sent his son Abdallah, a youth of about
fifteen years old, who proved so troublesome that Lieutenant Speke was
forced repeatedly to dismiss him: still the lad would not leave the
caravan till it reached the Dulbahanta frontier. And the Abban delayed a
Negro servant, Lieutenant Speke's gun-bearer, trying by many offers and
promises to seduce him from service.
_19th November_.--At dawn the camels were brought in; they had been
feeding at large all night, which proves the safety of the country. After
three hours' work at loading, the caravan started up the watercourse. The
road was rugged; at times the watercourse was blocked up with boulders,
which compelled the travellers temporarily to leave it. With a little
cutting away of projecting rocks, which are of soft stone, the road might
be made tolerably easy. Scattered and stunted Acacias, fringed with fresh
green foliage, relieved the eye; all else was barren rock. After marching
about two miles the traveller was obliged to halt by the Sultan; a
messenger arrived with the order. The halting-place is called Damalay. It
is in the bed of the watercourse, stagnating rain, foul-looking but sweet,
lying close by. As in all other parts of this Fiumara, the bed was dotted
with a bright green tree, sometimes four feet high, resembling a willow.
Lieutenant Speke spread his mat in the shade, and spent the rest of the
day at his diary and in conversation with the natives.
The next day was also spent at Damalay. The interpreter, Mohammed Ahmed, a
Somali of the Warsingali tribe, and all the people, refused positively to
advance. Lieutenant Speke started on foot to Las Kuray in search of the
Abban: he was followed at some distance by the Somal, and the whole party
returned on hearing a report that the chief and the Abban were on the way.
The traveller seems on this occasion to have formed a very low estimate of
the people. He stopped their food until they promised to start the next
_21st November_.--The caravan marched at gun-fire, and, after a mile, left
the watercourse, and ascended by a rough camel-path a buttress of hill
leading to the ridge of the mountains. The ascent was not steep, but the
camels were so bad that they could scarcely be induced to advance. The
country was of a more pleasant aspect, a shower of rain having lately
fallen. At this height the trees grow thicker and finer, the stones are
hidden by grass and heather, and the air becomes somewhat cooler. After a
six miles' march Lieutenant Speke encamped at a place called Adhai. Sweet
water was found within a mile's walk;--the first spring from which our
traveller drank. Here he pitched a tent.
At Adhai Lieutenant Speke was detained nine days by the non-appearance of
his "Protector" and the refusal of his followers to march without him. The
camels were sent back with the greatest difficulty to fetch the portion of
the baggage left behind. On the 24th Lieutenant Speke sent his Hindostani
servant to Las Kuray, with orders to bring up the baggage. "Imam" started
alone and on foot, not being permitted to ride a pony hired by the
traveller: he reported that there is a much better road for laden camels
from the coast to the crest of the hills. Though unprotected, he met with
no difficulty, and returned two days afterwards, having seen the baggage
_en route_. During Lieutenant Speke's detention, the Somal battened on his
provisions, seeing that his two servants were absent, and that no one
guarded the bags. Half the rice had been changed at Las Kuray for an
inferior description. The camel drivers refused their rations because all
their friends (thirty in number) were not fed. The Sultan's son taught
them to win the day by emptying and hiding the water-skins, by threatening
to kill the servants if they fetched water, and by refusing to do work.
During the discussion, which appears to have been lively, the eldest of
the Sultan's four sons, Mohammed Aul, appeared from Las Kuray. He seems to
have taken a friendly part, stopped the discussion, and sent away the
young prince as a nuisance. Unfortunately, however, the latter reappeared
immediately that the date bags were opened, and Mohammed Aul stayed only
two days in Lieutenant Speke's neighbourhood. On the 28th November the
Abban appeared. The Sultan then forced upon Lieutenant Speke his brother
Hasan as a second Abban, although this proceeding is contrary to the
custom of the country. The new burden, however, after vain attempts at
extortion, soon disappeared, carrying away with him a gun.
For tanning water-skins the Somal here always use, when they can procure
it, a rugged bark with a smooth epidermis of a reddish tinge, a pleasant
aromatic odour, and a strong astringent flavour. They call it Mohur:
powdered and sprinkled dry on a wound, it acts as a styptic. Here was
observed an aloe-formed plant, with a strong and woody thorn on the top.
It is called Haskul or Hig; the fibres are beaten out with sticks or
stones, rotted in water, and then made into cord. In other parts the young
bark of the acacia is used; it is first charred on one side, then reduced
to fibre by mastication, and lastly twisted into the semblance of a rope.
From a little manuscript belonging to the Abban, Lieutenant Speke learned
that about 440 years ago (A.D. 1413), one Darud bin Ismail, unable to live
with his elder brother at Mecca, fled with a few followers to these
shores. In those days the land was ruled, they say, by a Christian chief
called Kin, whose Wazir, Wharrah, was the terror of all men. Darud
collected around him, probably by proselytising, a strong party: he
gradually increased his power, and ended by expelling the owners of the
country, who fled to the N.W. as far as Abyssinia. Darud, by an Asyri
damsel, had a son called Kabl Ullah, whose son Harti had, as progeny,
Warsingali, Dulbahanta, and Mijjarthayn. These three divided the country
into as many portions, which, though great territorial changes have taken
place, to this day bear their respective owners' names.
Of this I have to observe, that universal tradition represents the Somal
to be a people of half-caste origin, African and Arabian; moreover, that
they expelled the Gallas from the coast, until the latter took refuge in
the hills of Harar. The Gallas are a people partly Moslem, partly
Christian, and partly Pagan; this may account for the tradition above
recorded. Most Somal, however, declare "Darud" to be a man of ignoble
origin, and do not derive him from the Holy City. Some declare he was
driven from Arabia for theft. Of course each tribe exaggerates its own
nobility with as reckless a defiance of truth as their neighbours
depreciate it. But I have made a rule always to doubt what semi-barbarians
write. Writing is the great source of historical confusion, because
falsehoods accumulate in books, persons are confounded, and fictions
assume, as in the mythologic genealogies of India, Persia, Greece, and
Rome, a regular and systematic form. On the other hand, oral tradition is
more trustworthy; witness the annals and genealogies preserved in verse by
the Bhats of Cutch, the Arab Nassab, and the Bards of Belochistan.
_30th November_.--The Sultan took leave of Lieutenant Speke, and the
latter prepared to march in company with the Abban, the interpreter, the
Sultan's two sons, and a large party. By throwing the tent down and
sitting in the sun he managed to effect a move. In the evening the camels
started from Adhai up a gradual ascent along a strong path. The way was
covered with bush, jungle, and trees. The frankincense, it is said,
abounded; gum trees of various kinds were found; and the traveller
remarked a single stunted sycamore growing out of a rock. I found the tree
in all the upper regions of the Somali country, and abundant in the Harar
Hills. After two miles' march the caravan halted at Habal Ishawalay, on
the northern side of the mountains, within three miles of the crest. The
halting-ground was tolerably level, and not distant from the waters of
Adhai, the only spring in the vicinity. The travellers slept in a deserted
Kraal, surrounded by a stout fence of Acacia thorns heaped up to keep out
the leopards and hyenas. During the heat Lieutenant Speke sat under a
tree. Here he remained three days; the first in order to bring up part of
his baggage which had been left behind; the second to send on a portion to
the next halting-place; and the third in consequence of the Abban's
resolution to procure Ghee or clarified butter. The Sultan could not
resist the opportunity of extorting something by a final visit--for a
goat, killed and eaten by the camel-drivers contrary to Lieutenant Speke's
orders, a dollar was demanded.
_4th December_, 1854.--About dawn the caravan was loaded, and then
proceeded along a tolerably level pathway through a thick growth of thorn
trees towards a bluff hill. The steep was reached about 9 A.M., and the
camels toiled up the ascent by a stony way, dropping their loads for want
of ropes, and stumbling on their road. The summit, about 500 yards
distant, was reached in an hour. At Yafir, on the crest of the mountains,
the caravan halted two hours for refreshment. Lieutenant Speke describes
the spot in the enthusiastic language of all travellers who have visited
the Seaward Range of the Somali Hills. It appears, however, that it is
destitute of water. About noon the camels were again loaded, and the
caravan proceeded across the mountains by a winding road over level ground
for four miles. This point commanded an extensive view of the Southern
Plateau. In that direction the mountains drop in steps or terraces, and
are almost bare; as in other parts rough and flat topped piles of stones,
reminding the traveller of the Tartar Cairns, were observed. I remarked
the same in the Northern Somali country; and in both places the people
gave a similar account of them, namely, that they are the work of an
earlier race, probably the Gallas. Some of them are certainly tombs, for
human bones are turned up; in others empty chambers are discovered; and in
a few are found earthern and large copper pots. Lieutenant Speke on one
occasion saw an excavated mound propped up inside by pieces of timber, and
apparently built without inlet. It was opened about six years ago by a
Warsingali, in order to bury his wife, when a bar of metal (afterwards
proved by an Arab to be gold) and a gold ring, similar to what is worn by
women in the nose, were discovered. In other places the natives find, it
is said, women's bracelets, beads, and similar articles still used by the
After nightfall the caravan arrived at Mukur, a halting-place in the
southern declivity of the hills. Here Lieutenant Speke remarked that the
large watercourse in which he halted becomes a torrent during the rains,
carrying off the drainage towards the eastern coast. He had marched that
day seventeen miles, when the party made a Kraal with a few bushes. Water
was found within a mile in a rocky basin; it was fetid and full of
animalculae. Here appeared an old woman driving sheep and goats into Las
Kuray, a circumstance which shows that the country is by no means
After one day's halt at Mukur to refresh the camels, on the 6th December
Lieutenant Speke started at about 10 A.M. across the last spur of the
hills, and presently entered a depression dividing the hills from the
Plateau. Here the country was stony and white-coloured, with watercourses
full of rounded stones. The Jujube and Acacias were here observed to be on
a large scale, especially in the lowest ground. After five miles the
traveller halted at a shallow watercourse, and at about half a mile
distant found sweet but dirty water in a deep hole in the rock. The name
of this station was Karrah.
_8th December_.--Early in the morning the caravan moved on to Rhat, a
distance of eight miles: it arrived at about noon. The road lay through
the depression at the foot of the hills. In the patches of heather
Florikan was found. The Jujube-tree was very large. In the rains this
country is a grassy belt, running from west to east, along a deep and
narrow watercourse, called Rhat Tug, or the Fiumara of Rhat, which flows
eastward towards the ocean. At this season, having been "eaten up," the
land was almost entirely deserted; the Kraals lay desolate, the herdsmen
had driven off their cows to the hills, and the horses had been sent
towards the Mijjarthayn country. A few camels and donkeys were seen:
considering that their breeding is left to chance, the blood is not
contemptible. The sheep and goats are small, and their coats, as usual in
these hot countries, remain short. Lieutenant Speke was informed that,
owing to want of rain, and it being the breeding season, the inland and
Nomad Warsingali live entirely on flesh, one meal serving for three days.
This was a sad change of affairs from what took place six weeks before the
traveller's arrival, when there had been a fall of rain, and the people
spent their time revelling on milk, and sleeping all day under the shade
of the trees--the Somali idea of perfect happiness.
On the 9th December Lieutenant Speke, halting at Rhat, visited one of
"Kin's" cities, now ruined by time, and changed by the Somal having
converted it into a cemetery. The remains were of stone and mud, as usual
in this part of the world. The houses are built in an economical manner;
one straight wall, nearly 30 feet long, runs down the centre, and is
supported by a number of lateral chambers facing opposite ways, _e. g._
This appears to compose the village, and suggests a convent or a
monastery. To the west, and about fifty yards distant, are ruins of stone
and good white mortar, probably procured by burning the limestone rock.
The annexed ground plan will give an idea of these interesting remains,
which are said to be those of a Christian house of worship. In some parts
the walls are still 10 feet high, and they show an extent of civilisation
now completely beyond the Warsingali. It may be remarked of them that the
direction of the niche, as well as the disposition of the building, would
denote a Moslem mosque. At the same time it must be remembered that the
churches of the Eastern Christians are almost always made to front
Jerusalem, and the Gallas being a Moslem and Christian race, the sects
would borrow their architecture from each other. The people assert these
ruins to be those of Nazarenes. Yet in the Jid Ali valley of the
Dulbahantas Lieutenant Speke found similar remains, which the natives
declared to be one of their forefathers' mosques; the plan and the
direction were the same as those now described. Nothing, however, is
easier than to convert St. Sophia into the Aya Sufiyyah mosque. Moreover,
at Jid Ali, the traveller found it still the custom of the people to erect
a Mala, or cross of stone or wood covered with plaster, at the head and
foot of every tomb.
The Dulbahantas, when asked about these crosses, said it was their custom,
derived from sire and grandsire. This again would argue that a Christian
people once inhabited these now benighted lands.
North of the building now described is a cemetery, in which the Somal
still bury their dead. Here Lieutenant Speke also observed crosses, but he
was prevented by the superstition of the people from examining them.
On an eminence S.W. of, and about seventy yards from the main building,
are the isolated remains of another erection, said by the people to be a
fort. The foundation is level with the ground, and shows two compartments
opening into each other.
Rhat was the most southerly point reached by Lieutenant Speke. He places
it about thirty miles distant from the coast, and at the entrance of the
Great Plateau. Here he was obliged to turn westward, because at that
season of the year the country to the southward is desolate for want of
rain--a warning to future visitors. During the monsoon this part of the
land is preferred by the people: grass grows, and there would be no
obstacle to travellers.
Before quitting Rhat, the Abban and the interpreter went to the length of
ordering Lieutenant Speke not to fire a gun. This detained him a whole
_11th December_.--Early in the morning, Lieutenant Speke started in a
westerly direction, still within sight of the mountains, where not
obstructed by the inequalities of the ground. The line taken was over an
elevated flat, in places covered with the roots of parched up grass; here
it was barren, and there appeared a few Acacias. The view to the south was
shortened by rolling ground: hollow basins, sometimes fifteen miles broad,
succeed each other; each sends forth from its centre a watercourse to
drain off the water eastward. The face of the country, however, is very
irregular, and consequently description is imperfect. This day ostriches
and antelopes were observed in considerable numbers. After marching ten
miles the caravan halted at Barham, where they found a spring of clear and
brackish water from the limestone rock, and flowing about 600 yards down a
deep rocky channel, in parts lined with fine Acacias. A Kraal was found
here, and the traveller passed a comfortable night.
_12th December_.--About 9 A.M. the caravan started, and threaded a valley,
which, if blessed with a fair supply of water, would be very fertile.
Whilst everything else is burned up by the sun on the high ground, a
nutritious weed, called Buskallay, fattens the sheep and goats. Wherever,
therefore, a spring is found, men flock to the place and fence themselves
in a Kraal. About half-way the travellers reached Darud bin Ismail's tomb,
a parallelogram of loose stones about one foot high, of a battered and
ignoble appearance; at one extremity stood a large sloping stone, with a
little mortar still clinging to it. No outer fence surrounded the tomb,
which might easily be passed by unnoticed: no honors were paid to the
memory of the first founder of the tribe, and the Somal did not even
recite a Fatihah over his dust. After marching about twelve miles, the
caravan encamped at Labbahdilay, in the bed of a little watercourse which
runs into the Yubbay Tug. Here they found a small pool of bad rain water.
They made a rude fence to keep out the wild beasts, and in it passed the
_13th December_.--The Somal showed superior activity in marching three
successive days; the reason appears to be that the Abban was progressing
towards his home. At sunrise the camels were loaded, and at 8 A.M. the
caravan started up a valley along the left bank of a watercourse called
the Yubbay Tug. This was out of the line, but the depth of the
perpendicular sides prevented any attempt at crossing it. The people of
the country have made a peculiar use of this feature of ground. During the
last war, ten or eleven years ago, between the Warsingali and the
Dulbahantas, the latter sent a large foraging party over the frontier. The
Warsingali stationed a strong force at the head of the watercourse to
prevent its being turned, and exposed their flocks and herds on the
eastern bank to tantalise the hungry enemy. The Dulbahantas, unable to
cross the chasm, and unwilling, like all Somali heroes even in their
wrath, to come to blows with the foe, retired in huge disgust. After
marching five miles, the caravan halted, the Abban declaring that he and
the Sultan's younger son must go forward to feel the way; in other words,
to visit his home. His pretext was a good one. In countries where postal
arrangements do not exist, intelligence flies quicker than on the wings of
paper. Many evil rumours had preceded Lieutenant Speke, and the inland
tribe professed, it was reported, to despise a people who can only
threaten the coast. The Dulbahantas had been quarrelling amongst
themselves for the last thirteen years, and were now determined to settle
the dispute by a battle. Formerly they were all under one head; but one
Ali Harram, an Akil or minor chief, determined to make his son, Mohammed
Ali, Gerad or Prince of the clans inhabiting the northern provinces. After
five years' intrigue the son was proclaimed, and carried on the wars
caused by his father, declaring an intention to fight to the last. He has,
however, been successfully opposed by Mahmud Ali, the rightful chief of
the Dulbahanta family; the southern clans of Haud and beyond the Nogal
being more numerous and more powerful than the northern divisions. No
merchant, Arab or other, thinks of penetrating into this country,
principally on account of the expense. Lieutenant Speke is of opinion that
his cloth and rice would easily have stopped the war for a time: the
Dulbahantas threatened and blustered, but allowed themselves easily to be
It is illustrative of the customs of this people that, when the
Dulbahantas had their hands engaged, and left their rear unprotected,
under the impression that no enemies were behind, the Warsingali instantly
remembered that one of their number had been murdered by the other race
many years ago. The blood-money had been paid, and peace had been
concluded, but the opportunity was too tempting to be resisted.
The Yubbay Tug watercourse begins abruptly, being as broad and deep at the
head as it is in the trunk. When Lieutenant Speke visited it, it was dry;
there was but a thin growth of trees in it, showing that water does not
long remain there. Immediately north of it lies a woody belt, running up
to the foot of the mountains, and there bifurcating along the base.
Southwards, the Yubbay is said to extend to a considerable distance, but
Somali ideas of distance are peculiar, and absorption is a powerful agent
in these latitudes.
Till the 21st December Lieutenant Speke was delayed at the Yubbay Tug. His
ropes had been stolen by discharged camel-men, and he was unable to
On the 15th December one of the Midgan or Serviles was tried for stealing
venison from one of his fellows. The Sultan, before his departure, had
commissioned three of Lieutenant Speke's attendants to act as judges in
case of such emergency: on this occasion the interpreter was on the
Woolsack, and he sensibly fined the criminal two sheep to be eaten on the
road. From inquiries, I have no doubt that these Midgan are actually
reduced by famine at times to live on a food which human nature abhors. In
the northern part of the Somali country I never heard of cannibalism,
although the Servile tribes will eat birds and other articles of food
disdained by Somal of gentle blood. Lieutenant Speke complains of the
scarcity and the quality of the water, "which resembles the mixture
commonly known as black draught." Yet it appears not to injure health; and
the only disease found endemic is an ophthalmia, said to return
periodically every three years. The animals have learned to use sparingly
what elsewhere is a daily necessary; camels are watered twice a month,
sheep thrice, and horses every two or three days. No wild beasts or birds,
except the rock pigeon and duck, ever drink except when rain falls.
The pickaxe and spade belonging to the traveller were greatly desired; in
one place water was found, but more generally the people preferred digging
for honey in the rocks. Of the inhabitants we find it recorded that, like
all Nomads, they are idle to the last degree, contenting themselves with
tanned skins for dress and miserable huts for lodging. Changing ground for
the flocks and herds is a work of little trouble; one camel and a donkey
carry all the goods and chattels, including water, wife, and baby. Milk in
all stages (but never polluted by fire), wild honey, and flesh, are their
only diet; some old men have never tasted grain. Armed with spear and
shield, they are in perpetual dread of an attack. It is not strange that
under such circumstances the population should be thin and scattered; they
talk of thousands going to war, but the wary traveller suspects gross
exaggeration. They preserve the abominable Galla practice of murdering
pregnant women in hopes of mutilating a male foetus.
On the 20th December Lieutenant Speke was informed by the Sultan's son
that the Dulbahantas would not permit him to enter their country. As a
favour, however, they would allow him to pass towards the home of the
Abban, who, having married a Dulbahanta girl was naturalised amongst them.
_21st December_.--Early in the morning Lieutenant Speke, accompanied by
the interpreter, the Sultan's son, one servant, and two or three men to
lead a pair of camels, started eastward. The rest of the animals (nine in
number) were left behind in charge of Imam, a Hindostani boy, and six or
seven men under him, The reason for this step was that Husayn Haji, an
Agil of the Dulbahantas and a connection of the Abban, demanded, as sole
condition for permitting Lieutenant Speke to visit "Jid Ali," that the
traveller should give up all his property. Before leaving the valley, he
observed a hillock glistening white: it appears from its salt, bitter
taste, to have been some kind of nitrate efflorescing from the ground. The
caravan marched about a mile across the deep valley of Yubbay Tug, and
ascended its right side by a beaten track: they then emerged from a thin
jungle in the lower grounds to the stony hills which compose the country.
Here the line pursued was apparently parallel to the mountains bordering
upon the sea: between the two ridges was a depression, in which lay a
small watercourse. The road ran along bleak undulating ground, with belts
of Acacia in the hollows: here and there appeared a sycamore tree. On the
road two springs were observed, both of bitter water, one deep below the
surface, the other close to the ground; patches of green grass grew around
them. Having entered the Dulbahanta frontier, the caravan unloaded in the
evening, after a march of thirteen miles, at a depression called Ali. No
water was found there.
_22nd December_.--Early in the morning the traveller started westward,
from Ali, wishing that night to make Jid Ali, about eighteen miles
distant. After marching thirteen miles over the same monotonous country as
before, Lieutenant Speke was stopped by Husayn Haji, the Agil, who
declared that Guled Ali, another Agil, was opposed to his progress. After
a long conversation, Lieutenant Speke reasoned him into compliance; but
that night they were obliged to halt at Birhamir, within five miles of Jid
Ali. The traveller was offered as many horses as he wanted, and a free
passage to Berberah, if he would take part in the battle preparing between
the two rival clans of Dulbahantas: he refused, on plea of having other
engagements. But whenever the question of penetrating the country was
started, there came the same dry answer: "No beggar had even attempted to
visit them--what, then, did the Englishman want?" The Abban's mother came
out from her hut, which was by the wayside, and with many terrors
endeavoured to stop the traveller.
_23rd December_.--Next morning the Abban appeared, and, by his sorrowful
surprise at seeing Lieutenant Speke across the frontier, showed that he
only had made the difficulty. The caravan started early, and, travelling
five miles over stony ground, reached the Jid Ali valley. This is a long
belt of fertile soil, running perpendicular to the seaward range; it
begins opposite Bunder Jedid, at a gap in the mountains through which the
sea is, they say, visible. In breadth, at the part first visited by
Lieutenant Speke, it is about two miles: it runs southward, and during
rain probably extends to about twenty miles inland. Near the head of the
valley is a spring of bitter water, absorbed by the soil after a quarter
of a mile's course: in the monsoon, however, a considerable torrent must
flow down this depression. Ducks and snipe are found here. The valley
shows, even at this season, extensive patches of grass, large acacia
trees, bushes, and many different kinds of thorns: it is the most wooded
lowland seen by Lieutenant Speke. Already the Nomads are here changing
their habits; two small enclosures have been cultivated by an old
Dulbahanta, who had studied agriculture during a pilgrimage to Meccah. The
Jowari grows luxuriantly, with stalks 8 and 9 feet high, and this first
effort had well rewarded the enterpriser. Lieutenant Speke lent the slave
Farhan, to show the art of digging; for this he received the present of a
goat. I may here remark that everywhere in the Somali country the people
are prepared to cultivate grain, and only want some one to take the
initiative. As yet they have nothing but their hands to dig with. A few
scattered huts were observed near Jid Ali, the grass not being yet
sufficiently abundant to support collected herds.
Lieutenant Speke was delayed nineteen days at Jid Ali by various pretexts.
The roads were reported closed. The cloth and provisions were exhausted.
Five horses must be bought from the Abban for thirty dollars a head (they
were worth one fourth that sum), as presents. The first European that
visited the Western Country had stopped rain for six months, and the Somal
feared for the next monsoon. All the people would flock in, demanding at
least what the Warsingali had received; otherwise they threatened the
traveller's life. On the 26th of December Lieutenant Speke moved three
miles up the valley to some distance from water, the crowd being
troublesome, and preventing his servants eating. On the 31st of December
all the baggage was brought up from near Abi: one of the camels, being
upon the point of death, was killed and devoured. It was impossible to
keep the Abban from his home, which was distant about four miles: numerous
messages were sent in vain, but Lieutenant Speke drew him from his hut by
"sitting in Dhurna," or dunning him into compliance. At last arose a
violent altercation. All the Warsingali and Dulbahanta servants were taken
away, water was stopped, the cattle were cast loose, and the traveller was
told to arm and defend himself and his two men:--they would all be slain
that night and the Abban would abandon them to the consequences of their
obstinacy. They were not killed, however, and about an hour afterwards the
Somal reappeared, declaring that they had no intention of deserting.
_11th January_, 1855.--About 10 A.M. the caravan started without the Abban
across the head of the Jid Ali valley. The land was flat, abounding in
Acacia, and showing signs of sun parched grass cropped close by the
cattle. After a five miles' march the travellers came to a place called
Biyu Hablay; they unloaded under a tree and made a Kraal. Water was
distant. Around were some courses, ending abruptly in the soft absorbing
ground. Here the traveller was met by two Dulbahantas, who demanded his
right to enter their lands, and insinuated that a force was gathering to
oppose him. They went away, however, after a short time, threatening with
smiles to come again. Lieutenant Speke was also informed that the Southern
Dulbahanta tribes had been defeated with loss by the northern clans, and
that his journey would be interrupted by them. Here the traveller remarked
how willing are the Somal to study: as usual in this country, any man who
reads the Koran and can write out a verset upon a board is an object of
envy. The people are fanatic. They rebuked the interpreter for not praying
regularly, for eating from a Christian's cooking pot, and for cutting
deer's throats low down (to serve as specimens); they also did not approve
of the traveller's throwing date stones into the fire. As usual, they are
fearful boasters. Their ancestors turned Christians out of the country.
They despise guns. They consider the Frank formidable only behind walls:
they are ready to fight it out in the plain, and they would gallop around
cannon so that not a shot would tell. Vain words to conceal the hearts of
hares! Lieutenant Speke justly remarks that, on account of the rough way
in which they are brought up, the Somal would become excellent policemen;
they should, however, be separated from their own people, and doubtless
the second generation might be trained into courage.
At Biyu Hablay Lieutenant Speke, finding time as well as means deficient,
dropped all idea of marching to Berberah. He wished to attempt a north-
western route to Hais, but the Rer Hamaturwa (a clan of the Habr Gerhajis
who occupy the mountain) positively refused passage. Permission was
accorded by that clan to march due north upon Bunder Jedid, where,
however, the traveller feared that no vessel might be found. As a last
resource he determined to turn to the north-east, and, by a new road
through the Habr Gerhajis, to make Las Kuray.
_18th January_.--The Abban again returned from his home, and accompanied
Lieutenant Speke on his first march to the north-east. Early in the
morning the caravan started over the ground before described: on this
occasion, however, it traversed the belt of jungle at the foot of the
mountains. After a march of six miles they halted at "Mirhiddo," under a
tree on elevated ground, in a mere desert, no water being nearer than the
spring of Jid Ali. The Abban took the opportunity of Lieutenant Speke
going out specimen-hunting to return home, contrary to orders, and he did
not reappear till the traveller walked back and induced him to march. Here
a second camel, being "in articulo," was cut up and greedily devoured.
_21st January_.--The Abban appeared in the morning, and the caravan
started about noon, over the stony ground at the foot of the hills. After
a mile's march, the "Protector" again disappeared, in open defiance of
orders. That day's work was about ten miles. The caravan halted, late at
night, in the bed of a watercourse, called Hanfallal. Lieutenant Speke
visited the spring, which is of extraordinary sweetness for the Warsingali
country: it flows from a cleft in the rock broad enough to admit a man's
body, and about 60 feet deep.
_23rd January_.--Lieutenant Speke was about to set out under the guidance
of Awado, the Abban's mother, when her graceless son reappeared. At noon
the caravan travelled along a rough road, over the lower spurs of the
mountains: they went five miles, and it was evening when they unloaded in
a watercourse a little distance up the hills, at a place called Dallmalay.
The bed was about 150 yards broad, full of jungle, and showed signs of a
strong deep stream during the monsoon. The travellers made up a Kraal, but
found no water there.
_24th January_.--Early in the morning the caravan started, and ascended by
a path over the hills. The way was bare of verdure, but easy: here a camel
unable to walk, though unloaded, was left behind. One of Lieutenant
Speke's discharged camel-men, a Warsingali, being refused passage by the
Habr Gerhajis, on account of some previous quarrel, found a stray camel,
and carried it off to his home amongst the Dulbahantas. He afterwards
appeared at Las Kuray, having taken the road by which the travellers
entered the country. Having marched eleven miles, the caravan arrived in
the evening at Gobamiray, a flat on the crest of the mountains. Here again
thick jungle appeared, and the traveller stood over more on the seaward
side. Water was distant.
On arriving, the camels were seized by the Urus Sugay, a clan of the Habr
Gerhajis. The poor wretches pretended to show fight, and asked if they
were considered a nation of women, that their country was to be entered
without permission. Next morning they volunteered to act as escort.
_25th January_.--Loading was forbidden by the valiant sons of Habr
Gerhajis; but as they were few in number, and the Warsingali clan was
near, it went on without interruption. This day, like the latter, was
cloudy; heavy showers fell for some hours, and the grass was springing up.
Rain had lasted for some time, and had not improved the road. This fall is
called by the people "Dairti:" it is confined to the hills, whereas the
Gugi or monsoon is general over the plateau.
About noon the caravan marched, late, because the Abban's two horses had
strayed. These animals belonged to a relation of the "Protector," who
called them his own, and wished as a civility to sell the garrons at the
highest possible price to his client. The caravan marched down a tortuous
and difficult road, descending about four miles. It unloaded as evening
drew near, and the travellers found at Gambagahh a good dormitory, a cave
which kept out the rain. Water was standing close by in a pool. The whole
way was a thick jungle of bush and thorn.
_26th January_.--The Somal insisted upon halting to eat, and the caravan
did not start before noon. The road was tolerable and the descent oblique.
The jungle was thick and the clouds thicker; rain fell heavily as usual in
the afternoon. Five cloths were given to the Habr Gerhajis as a bribe for
passage. After a march of six miles the caravan halted at a place called
Minan. Here they again found a cave which protected them from the rain.
Water was abundant in the hollows of the rock.
_27th January_.--Early in the morning the caravan set out, and descended
the hill obliquely by a tolerable road. They passed a number of thorn
trees, bearing a gum called Falafala or Luban Meyti, a kind of
frankincense: it is thrown upon the fire, and the women are in the habit
of standing over it. After travelling six miles the travellers unloaded at
Hundurgal, on the bank of a watercourse leading to Las Galwayta: some
pools of rain-water were observed in the rocky hollows of the bed.
_28th January_.--At about 9 A.M. the caravan crossed one of the lower
ridges of the mountains by a tolerable road. Lieutenant Speke had preceded
his camels, and was sitting down to rest, when he was startled by hearing
the rapid discharge of a revolver. His valiant Abban, either in real or in
pretended terror of the Habr Gerhajis had fired the pistol as a warning.
It had the effect of collecting a number of Bedouins to stare at the
travellers, and cogitate on what they could obtain: they offered, however,
At midday the caravan reached a broad and deep Fiumara, which contained a
spring of good sweet water flowing towards the sea. Here they halted for
refreshment. Again advancing, they traversed another ridge, and, after a
march of twelve miles, arrived in the evening at another little
watercourse on the Maritime Plain. That day was clear and warm, the rain
being confined to the upper ranges. The name of the halting-place was
_29th January_.--The caravan marched over the plain into Kurayat, or
Little Las Kuray, where Lieutenant Speke, after a detention of upwards of
a fortnight, took boat, and after five days' sail arrived at Aden, where I
was expecting him. He was charged forty dollars--five times the proper
sum--for a place in a loaded Buggalow: from Aden to Bombay thirty-five
dollars is the hire of the whole cabin. This was the last act of the
Abban, who is now by the just orders of the acting Political Resident,
Aden, expiating his divers offences in the Station Jail.
Lieutenant Speke has passed through three large tribes, the Warsingali,
the Dulbahanta, and the Habr Gerhajis.
The Warsingali have a Sultan or Chief, whose orders are obeyed after a
fashion by all the clans save one, the Bihidur. He cannot demand the
attendance of a subject even to protect the country, and has no power to
raise recruits; consequently increase of territory is never contemplated
in this part of the Somali country. In case of murder, theft, or dispute
between different tribes, the aggrieved consult the Sultan, who,
assembling the elders, deputes them to feel the inclinations of the
"public." The people prefer revenging themselves by violence, as every man
thereby hopes to gain something. The war ends when the enemy has more
spears than cattle left--most frequently, however, by mutual consent, when
both are tired of riding the country. Expeditions seldom meet one another,
this retiring as that advances, and he is deemed a brave who can lift a
few head of cattle and return home in safety. The commissariat department
is rudely organised: at the trysting-place, generally some water, the
people assemble on a day fixed by the Sultan, and slaughter sheep: each
person provides himself by hanging some dried meat upon his pony. It is
said that on many occasions men have passed upwards of a week with no
other sustenance than water. This extensive branch of the Somal is divided
into eighteen principal clans, viz.:
1. Rer Gerad (the royal family).
2. Rer Fatih.
3. Rer Abdullah.
4. Rer Bihidur.
5. Bohogay Salabay.
6. Adan Yakub.
7. Gerad Umar.
8. Gerad Yusuf.
9. Gerad Liban.
10. Nuh Umar.
11. Adan Said.
12. Rer Haji.
16. Rer Yasif.
18. Rer Garwayna.
The Northern Dulbahantas are suffering greatly from intestine war. They
are even less tractable than the Warsingali. Their Sultan is a ruler only
in name; no one respects his person or consults him in matters of
importance: their Gerad was in the vicinity of the traveller; but evasive
answers were returned (probably in consequence of the Abban's
machinations) to every inquiry. The elders and men of substance settle
local matters, and all have a voice in everything that concerns the
general weal: such for instance as the transit of a traveller. Lieutenant
Speke saw two tribes, the Mahmud Gerad and Rer Ali Nalay. The latter is
subdivided into six septs.
The Habr Gerhajis, here scattered and cut up, have little power. Their
royal family resides near Berberah, but no one as yet wears the turban;
and even when investiture takes place, a ruler's authority will not extend
to Makhar. Three clans of this tribe inhabit this part of the Somali
country, viz., Bah Gummaron, Rer Hamturwa, and Urus Sugay.
I venture to submit a few remarks upon the subject of the preceding diary.
It is evident from the perusal of these pages that though the traveller
suffered from the system of black-mail to which the inhospitable Somal of
Makhar subject all strangers, though he was delayed, persecuted by his
"protector," and threatened with war, danger, and destruction, his life
was never in real peril. Some allowance must also be made for the people
of the country. Lieutenant Speke was of course recognised as a servant of
Government; and savages cannot believe that a man wastes his rice and
cloth to collect dead beasts and to ascertain the direction of streams. He
was known to be a Christian; he is ignorant of the Moslem faith; and, most
fatal to his enterprise, he was limited in time. Not knowing either the
Arabic or the Somali tongue, he was forced to communicate with the people
through the medium of his dishonest interpreter and Abban.
I have permitted myself to comment upon the system of interference pursued
by the former authorities of Aden towards the inhabitants of the Somali
coast. A partial intermeddling with the quarrels of these people is
unwise. We have the whole line completely in our power. An armed cruiser,
by a complete blockade, would compel the inhabitants to comply with any
requisitions. But either our intervention should be complete,--either we
should constitute ourselves sole judges of all disputes, or we should
sedulously turn a deaf ear to their complaints. The former I not only
understand to be deprecated by our rulers, but I also hold it to be
imprudent. Nothing is more dangerous than to influence in any way the
savage balance of power between these tribes: by throwing our weight on
one side we may do them incalculable mischief. The Somal, like the Arab
Bedouins, live in a highly artificial though an apparently artless state
of political relations; and the imperfect attempt of strangers to
interfere would be turned to the worst account by the designing adventurer
and the turbulent spirit who expects to rise by means of anarchy and
confusion. Hitherto our partial intervention between the Habr Awal of
Berberah and the Habr Gerhajis of Zayla has been fraught with evils to
them, and consequently to us.
But it is a rapidly prevailing custom for merchants and travellers to
engage an Abban or Protector, not on the African coast, as was formerly
case, but at Aden. It is clearly advantageous to encourage this practice,
since it gives us a right in case of fraud or violence to punish the Abban
as he deserves.
Lastly, we cannot expect great things without some establishment at
Berberah. Were a British agent settled there, he could easily select the
most influential and respectable men, to be provided with a certificate
entitling them to the honor and emolument of protecting strangers. Nothing
would tend more surely than this measure to open up the new country to
commerce and civilisation. And it must not be inferred, from a perusal of
the foregoing pages, that the land is valueless. Lieutenant Speke saw but
a small portion of it, and that, too, during the dead season. Its exports
speak for themselves: guano, valuable gums, hides, peltries, mats,
clarified butter, honey, and Dumbah sheep. From the ruins and the
traditions of the country, it is clear that a more civilised race once
held these now savage shores, and the disposition of the people does not
discourage the hope entertained by every Englishman--that of raising his
fellow man in the scale of civilisation.
Camp, Aden, March, 1855.
_Made by Lieutenant Speke, during his Experimental Tour in Eastern Africa,
portions of Warsingali, Dulbahanta, &c._
Date. | 6 A.M. | Noon. | 3 P.M. | Meteorological Notices.
Oct. 29. 70° 87° *112° Wind from the N. E. strong. (*Exposed
" 30. 70 87 85 Ditto. to sun.)
" 31. 68 88 85 Ditto.
Nov. 1. 67 88 82 Ditto. (These observations from
" 2. 62 86 85 Ditto. the 29th Oct. to the 7th
" 3. 59 86 " Nov., were taken in the
" 4. 65 86 84 Ditto. tent.)
" 5. 65 88 -- Ditto.
" 6. 63 88 86 Ditto.
" 7. 74 90 88 Cloudy in the morning.
" 8. 66 83 88 Wind strong from the N. E. (In open
" 9. 64 84 82 Ditto. air, but not exposed
" 10. 69 84 82 Ditto. to the sun.)
" 11. 70 84 82 Ditto.
" 12. 68 83 82
" 13. 64 85 82
" 14. 77 82 82
" 15. 70 83 83
" 16. 72 83 82
" 17. 62 110 104 In open air exposed to sun.
" 18. 62 95 96
" 19. 62 102 95 All these observations were taken
" 20. -- 98 103 during the N. E. monsoon, when the
" 21. " " " wind comes from that quarter. It
" 22. 59 74 77 generally makes its appearance
" 23. 56 81 75 about half-past 9 A.M.
" 24. 59 78 82
" 25. 58 78 79
" 26. 60 74 75
" 27. 59 82 77
" 28. 59 82 72
" 29. 59 -- 80
" 30. 61 82 80
Dec. 1. 52 78 86
" 2. 50 86 89
" 3. " " "
" 4. -- 69 "
" 5. 54 84 84
" 6. -- 97 98
" 7. 52 -- 89
" 8. 52 95 100
" 9. 38 90 94
" 10. 42 92 91
" 11. 42 " "
" 12. 45 73 "
" 13. 40 81 82
" 14. 25 76 82
" 15. 33 80 82
" 16. 47 91 89
" 17. 36 84 90
" 18. 34 82 84
" 19. 54 78 84
" 20. 52 77 83
" 31. -- 89 88
Jan. 1. 40 98 98 In open air exposed to the sun.
" 2. 43 84 88 All these observations were taken
" 3. 34 84 86 during the N. E. monsoon, when
" 4. 32 86 84 the wind comes from that quarter;
" 5. 28 96 87 generally making its appearance at
" 6. 34 92 94 about half-past 9 A.M.
" 7. 39 91 80
" 8. 39 95 "
" 9. 40 81 "
" 10. 55 -- 72
" 11. 50 91 90
" 12. 53 87 90
" 13. 51 94 94
" 14. 39 84 95
" 16. 40 81 87
" 17. 46 78 81
" 18. 42 86 88
" 19. 44 82 83
" 20. 40 " "
" 21. 38 87 93
" 22. 50 91 84
" 23. 52 86 98
" 24. 52 -- 62 On the north or sea face of the
" 25. 51 79 66 Warsangali Hills, during 24th,
" 26. 58 65 63 25th, and 26th, had rain and heavy
" 27. 58 " " clouds daring the day: blowing
" 30. 72 82 82 off towards the evening.
" 31. 71 88 93 From the 27th to the 7th the
Feb. 1. 67 96 80 observations were taken at the sea.
" 2. 74 89 80
" 3. 68 87 88
" 4. 68 89 "
" 5. 68 84 83
" 6. 72 88 " On the 7th observations were taken
" 7. 68 83 " in tent.
| Govern. | |
| Therm. ! Therm. | Feet.
| boiled. | |
Nov. 1st. At Las Guray 212° 88° 0000
22nd. At Adhai 204.25 81 4577
30th. At Habal Ishawalay 203 58 5052
Dec. 4th. At Yafir, top of range 200.25 69 6704
5th. At Mukur, on plateau 205.5 67 3660
7th. At Rhat Tug, on plateau 206.5 62 3077
15th. At Yubbay Tug, on plateau 204 62 4498
Government boiling therm. broke
Common therm. out of bazar boiled
at sea level 209°
1855 Com. ther.
Jan. 1st. At Jid Alli, on plateau 202° 62 3884
12th. At Biyu Hablay 201. 62 4 449
GRAMMATICAL OUTLINE AND VOCABULARY
[Editor's note: This appendix was omitted because of the large number of
Arabic characters it contains, which makes it impossible to reproduce
accurately following PG standards.]
METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS IN THE COLD SEASON OF 1854-5,
LIEUTENANTS HERNE, STROYAN, AND BURTON.
[Editor's note: This appendix contains tables of numbers that are too wide
to be reproduced accurately following PG standards.]
It has been found necessary to omit this Appendix.
[Editor's note: This appendix, written in Latin by Burton, contained
descriptions of sexual customs among certain tribes. It was removed by the
publisher of the book, who apparently considered it to be too _risque_ for
the Victorian public.]
A CONDENSED ACCOUNT OF AN ATTEMPT TO REACH HARAR FROM ANKOBAR.
The author is Lieutenant, now Commander, WILLIAM BARKER of the Indian
Navy, one of the travellers who accompanied Sir William Cornwallis, then
Captain, Harris on his mission to the court of Shoa. His services being
required by the Bombay Government, he was directed by Captain Harris, on
October 14th, 1841, to repair to the coast via Harar, by a road "hitherto
untrodden by Europeans." These pages will reward perusal as a narrative of
adventure, especially as they admirably show what obstacles the suspicious
characters and the vain terrors of the Bedouins have thrown in the way of
energy and enterprise.
"Aden, February 28, 1842.
"Shortly after I had closed my last communication to Captain Harris of the
Bombay Engineers on special duty at the Court of Shoa (14. Jan. 1842), a
report arrived at Allio Amba that Demetrius, an Albanian who had been for
ten years resident in the Kingdom of Shoa, and who had left it for
Tajoorah, accompanied by "Johannes," another Albanian, by three Arabs,
formerly servants of the Embassy, and by several slaves, had been murdered
by the Bedoos (Bedouins) near Murroo. This caused a panic among my
servants. I allayed it with difficulty, but my interpreter declared his
final intention of deserting me, as the Hurruri caravan had threatened to
kill him if he persisted in accompanying me. Before proceeding farther it
may be as well to mention that I had with me four servants, one a mere
lad, six mules and nine asses to carry my luggage and provisions.
"I had now made every arrangement, having, as the Wallasena Mahomed Abugas
suggested, purchased a fine horse and a Tobe for my protector and guide,
Datah Mahomed of the clan Seedy Habroo, a subtribe of the Debeneh. It was
too late to recede: accordingly at an early hour on Saturday, the 15th
January, 1842, I commenced packing, and about 8 A.M. took my departure
from the village of Allio Amba. I had spent there a weary three months,
and left it with that mixture of pleasure and regret felt only by those
who traverse unknown and inhospitable regions. I had made many friends,
who accompanied me for some distance on the road, and took leave of me
with a deep feeling which assured me of their sympathy. Many endeavoured
to dissuade me from the journey, but my lot was cast.
"About five miles from Allio, I met the nephew of the Wallasena, who
accompanied me to Farri, furnished me with a house there, and ordered my
mules and asses to be taken care of. Shortly after my arrival the guide,
an old man, made his appearance and seemed much pleased by my punctuality.
"At noon, on Sunday the 16th, the Wallasena arrived, and sent over his
compliments, with a present of five loaves of bread. I called upon him in
the evening, and reminded him of the letter he had promised me; he ordered
it to be prepared, taking for copy the letter which the king (Sahala
Salassah of Shoa) had given to me.
"My guide having again promised to forward me in safety, the Wallasena
presented him with a spear, a shield, and a Tobe, together with the horse
and the cloth which I had purchased for him. About noon on Monday the
17th, we quitted Farri with a slave-caravan bound for Tajoorah. I was
acquainted with many of these people, the Wallasena also recommended me
strongly to the care of Mahomed ibn Buraitoo and Dorranu ibn Kamil. We
proceeded to Datharal, the Wallasena and his nephew having escorted me as
far as Denehmelli, where they took leave. I found the Caffilah to consist
of fifteen Tajoorians, and about fifty camels laden with provisions for
the road, fifty male and about twenty female slaves, mostly children from
eight to ten years of age. My guide had with him five camels laden with
grain, two men and two women.
"The Ras el Caffilah (chief of the caravan) was one Ibrahim ibn Boorantoo,
who it appears had been chief of the embassy caravan, although Essakh
(Ishak) gave out that he was. It is certain that this man always gave
orders for pitching the camp and for loading; but we being unaware of the
fact that he was Ras el Caffilah, he had not received presents on the
arrival of the Embassy at Shoa. Whilst unloading the camels, the following
conversation took place. 'Ya Kabtan!' (0 Captain) said he addressing me
with a sneer, 'where are you going to?--do you think the Bedoos will let
you pass through their country? We shall see! Now I will tell you!--you
Feringis have treated me very ill!--you loaded Essakh and others with
presents, but never gave me anything. I have, as it were, a knife in my
stomach which is continually cutting me--this knife you have placed there!
But, inshallah! it is now my turn! I will be equal with you!--you think of
going to Hurrur--we shall see!' I replied, 'You know me not! It is true I
was ignorant that you were Ras el Caffilah on our way to Shoa. You say you
have a knife cutting your inside--I can remove that knife! Those who treat
me well, now that I am returning to my country, shall be rewarded; for,
the Lord be praised! there I have the means of repaying my friends, but in
Shoa I am a beggar. Those that treat me ill shall also receive their
"My mules, being frightened at the sight of the camels, were exceedingly
restive; one of them strayed and was brought back by Deeni ibn Hamed, a
young man who was indebted to me for some medicines and a trifling present
which he had received from the embassy. Ibrahim, the Ras el Caffilah,
seeing him lead it back, called out, 'So you also have become servant to
the Kafir (infidel)!' At the same time Datah Mahomed, the guide, addressed
to me some remark which he asked Ibrahim to explain; the latter replied in
a sarcastic manner in Arabic, a language with which I am unacquainted. 
This determined hostility on the part of the Ras el Caffilah was
particularly distressing to me, as I feared he would do me much mischief.
I therefore determined to gain him over to my interests, and accordingly,
taking Deeni on one side, I promised him a handsome present if he would
take an opportunity of explaining to Ibrahim that he should be well
rewarded if he behaved properly, and at the same time that if he acted
badly, that a line or two sent to Aden would do him harm. I also begged
him to act as my interpreter as long as we were together, and he
cheerfully agreed to do so.
"We were on the point of resuming our journey on Tuesday the 18th, when it
was found that the mule of the el Caffilah had strayed. After his conduct
on the preceding evening, he was ashamed to come to me, but he deputed one
of the caravan people to request the loan of one of my mules to go in
quest of his. I gave him one readily. We were detained that day as the
missing animal was not brought back till late. Notwithstanding my
civility, I observed him in close conversation with Datah Mahomed, about
the rich presents which the Feringis had given to Essakh and others, and I
frequently observed him pointing to my luggage in an expressive manner.
Towards evening the guide came to me and said, 'My son! I am an old man,
my teeth are bad, I cannot eat this parched grain--I see you eat bread.
Now we are friends, you must give me some of it!' I replied that several
times after preparing for the journey, I had been disappointed and at last
started on a short notice--that I was but scantily supplied with
provisions, and had a long journey before me: notwithstanding which I was
perfectly willing that he should share with me what I had as long as it
lasted, and that as he was a great chief, I expected that he would furnish
me with a fresh supply on arriving at his country. He then said, 'it is
well! but why did you not buy me a mule instead of a horse?' My reply was
that I had supposed that the latter would be more acceptable to him. I
divided the night into three watches: my servants kept the first and
middle, and I myself the morning.
"We quitted Dattenab, the frontier station, at about 7 o'clock A.M., on
Wednesday the 19th. The country at this season presented a more lively
appearance than when we travelled over it before, grass being abundant: on
the trees by the roadside was much gum Acacia, which the Caffilah people
collected as they passed. I was pleased to remark that Ibrahim was the
only person ill-disposed towards me, the rest of the travellers were civil
and respectful. At noon we halted under some trees by the wayside.
Presently we were accosted by six Bedoos of the Woemah tribe who were