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First footsteps in East Africa by Richard F. Burton

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opposed to distinctions amongst Moslems, the Khalawiyah, who work in
metal, are considered vile. Throughout the rest of El Islam the blacksmith
is respected as treading in the path of David, the father of the craft.

The word "Tomal," opposed to Somal, is indigenous. "Handad "is palpably a
corruption of the Arabic "Haddad," ironworker.

The Midgan, "one-hand," corresponds with the Khadim of Yemen: he is called
Kami or "archer" by the Arabs. There are three distinct tribes of this
people, who are numerous in the Somali country: the best genealogists
cannot trace their origin, though some are silly enough to derive them,
like the Akhdam, from Shimr. All, however, agree in expelling the Midgan
from the gentle blood of Somali land, and his position has been compared
to that of Freedman amongst the Romans. These people take service under
the different chiefs, who sometimes entertain great numbers to aid in
forays and frays; they do not, however, confine themselves to one craft.
Many Midgans employ themselves in hunting and agriculture. Instead of
spear and shield, they carry bows and a quiver full of diminutive arrows,
barbed and poisoned with the Waba,--a weapon used from Faizoghli to the
Cape of Good Hope. Like the Veddah of Ceylon, the Midgan is a poor shot,
and scarcely strong enough to draw his stiff bow. He is accused of
maliciousness; and the twanging of his string will put to flight a whole
village. The poison is greatly feared: it causes, say the people, the hair
and nails to drop off, and kills a man in half an hour. The only treatment
known is instant excision of the part; and this is done the more
frequently, because here, as in other parts of Africa, such _stigmates_
are deemed ornamental.

In appearance the Midgan is dark and somewhat stunted; he is known to the
people by peculiarities of countenance and accent.

[11] The reason why Europeans fail to explain their thoughts to Orientals
generally is that they transfer the Laconism of Western to Eastern
tongues. We for instance say, "Fetch the book I gave you last night." This
in Hindostani, to choose a well-known tongue, must be smothered with words
thus: "What book was by me given to you yesterday by night, that book
bringing to me, come!"

[12] I have alluded to these subjects in a previous work upon the subject
of Meccah and El Medinah.

[13] This is one of the stock complaints against the Moslem scheme. Yet is
it not practically the case with ourselves? In European society, the best
are generally those who prefer the companionship of their own sex; the
"ladies' man" and the woman who avoids women are rarely choice specimens.

[14] The Shantarah board is thus made, with twenty-five points technically
called houses. [Illustration] The players have twelve counters a piece,
and each places two at a time upon any of the unoccupied angles, till all
except the centre are filled up. The player who did not begin the game
must now move a man; his object is to inclose one of his adversary's
between two of his own, in which case he removes it, and is entitled to
continue moving till he can no longer take. It is a game of some skill,
and perpetual practice enables the Somal to play it as the Persians do
backgammon, with great art and little reflection. The game is called
Kurkabod when, as in our draughts, the piece passing over one of the
adversary's takes it.

Shahh is another favourite game. The board is made thus, [Illustration]
and the pieces as at Shantarah are twelve in number. The object is to
place three men in line,--as the German Muhle and the Afghan "Kitar,"--
when any one of the adversary's pieces may be removed.

Children usually prefer the game called indifferently Togantog and
Saddikiya. A double line of five or six holes is made in the ground, four
counters are placed in each, and when in the course of play four men meet
in the same hole, one of the adversary's is removed. It resembles the
Bornou game, played with beans and holes in the sand. Citizens and the
more civilised are fond of "Bakkis," which, as its name denotes, is a
corruption of the well-known Indian Pachisi. None but the travelled know
chess, and the Damal (draughts) and Tavola (backgammon) of the Turks.

[15] The same objection against "villanous saltpetre" was made by
ourselves in times of old: the French knights called gunpowder the Grave
of Honor. This is natural enough, the bravest weapon being generally the
shortest--that which places a man hand to hand with his opponent. Some of
the Kafir tribes have discontinued throwing the Assegai, and enter battle
wielding it as a pike. Usually, also, the shorter the weapon is, the more
fatal are the conflicts in which it is employed. The old French "Briquet,"
the Afghan "Charay," and the Goorka "Kukkri," exemplify this fact in the
history of arms.

[16] In the latter point it differs from the Assegai, which is worked by
the Kafirs to the finest temper.

[17] It is called by the Arabs Kubabah, by the Somal Goasa. Johnston
(Travels in Southern Abyssinia, chap. 8.) has described the game; he errs,
however, in supposing it peculiar to the Dankali tribes.

[18] This is in fact the pilgrim dress of El Islam; its wide diffusion to
the eastward, as well as west of the Red Sea, proves its antiquity as a
popular dress.

[19] I often regretted having neglected the precaution of a bottle of
walnut juice,--a white colour is decidedly too conspicuous in this part of
the East.

[20] The strict rule of the Moslem faith is this: if a man neglect to
pray, he is solemnly warned to repent. Should he simply refuse, without,
however, disbelieving in prayer, he is to be put to death, and receive
Moslem burial; in the other contingency, he is not bathed, prayed for, or
interred in holy ground. This severe order, however, lies in general

[21] "Tuarick grandiloquence," says Richardson (vol. i. p. 207.), "savours
of blasphemy, e.g. the lands, rocks, and mountains of Ghat do not belong
to God but to the Azghar." Equally irreverent are the Kafirs of the Cape.
They have proved themselves good men in wit as well as war; yet, like the
old Greenlanders and some of the Burmese tribes, they are apparently
unable to believe in the existence of the Supreme. A favourite question to
the missionaries was this, "Is your God white or black?" If the European,
startled by the question, hesitated for a moment, they would leave him
with open signs of disgust at having been made the victims of a hoax.

The assertion generally passes current that the idea of an Omnipotent
Being is familiar to all people, even the most barbarous. My limited
experience argues the contrary. Savages begin with fetisism and demon-
worship, they proceed to physiolatry (the religion of the Vedas) and
Sabaeism: the deity is the last and highest pinnacle of the spiritual
temple, not placed there except by a comparatively civilised race of high
development, which leads them to study and speculate upon cosmical and
psychical themes. This progression is admirably wrought out in Professor
Max Muller's "Rig Veda Sanhita."

[22] The Moslem corpse is partly sentient in the tomb, reminding the
reader of Tennyson:

"I thought the dead had peace, but it is not so;
To have no peace in the grave, is that not sad?"

[23] The prayers for the dead have no Rukaat or bow as in other orisons.

[24] The general Moslem name for the African coast from the Somali
seaboard southwards to the Mozambique, inhabited by negrotic races.

[25] The Moslem rosary consists of ninety-nine beads divided into sets of
thirty-three each by some peculiar sign, as a bit of red coral.
[Illustration] The consulter, beginning at a chance place, counts up to
the mark: if the number of beads be odd, he sets down a single dot, if
even, two. This is done four times, when a figure is produced as in the
margin. Of these there are sixteen, each having its peculiar name and
properties. The art is merely Geomancy in its rudest shape; a mode of
vaticination which, from its wide diffusion, must be of high antiquity.
The Arabs call it El Baml, and ascribe its present form to the Imam Jaafar
el Sadik; amongst them it is a ponderous study, connected as usual with
astrology. Napoleon's "Book of Fate" is a specimen of the old Eastern
superstition presented to Europe in a modern and simple form.

[26] In this country, as in Western and Southern Africa, the leopard, not
the wolf, is the shepherd's scourge.

[27] Popular superstition in Abyssinia attributes the same power to the
Felashas or Jews.

[28] Our Elixir, a corruption of the Arabic El Iksir.

[29] In the Somali tongue its name is Barki: they make a stool of similar
shape, and call it Barjimo.

[30] Specimens of these discourses have been given by Mr. Lane, Mod.
Egypt, chap. 3. It is useless to offer others, as all bear the closest



We determined on the 9th of November to visit the island of Saad el Din,
the larger of the two patches of ground which lie about two miles north of
the town. Reaching our destination, after an hour's lively sail, we passed
through a thick belt of underwood tenanted by swarms of midges, with a
damp chill air crying fever, and a fetor of decayed vegetation smelling
death. To this succeeded a barren flat of silt and sand, white with salt
and ragged with salsolaceous stubble, reeking with heat, and covered with
old vegetation. Here, says local tradition, was the ancient site of Zayla
[1], built by Arabs from Yemen. The legend runs that when Saad el Din was
besieged and slain by David, King of Ethiopia, the wells dried up and the
island sank. Something doubtless occurred which rendered a removal
advisable: the sons of the Moslem hero fled to Ahmed bin El Ashraf, Prince
of Senaa, offering their allegiance if he would build fortifications for
them and aid them against the Christians of Abyssinia. The consequence was
a walled circuit upon the present site of Zayla: of its old locality
almost may be said "periere ruinae."

During my stay with Sharmarkay I made many inquiries about historical
works, and the Kazi; Mohammed Khatib, a Harar man of the Hawiyah tribe,
was at last persuaded to send his Daftar, or office papers, for my
inspection. They formed a kind of parish register of births, deaths,
marriages, divorces, and manumissions. From them it appeared that in A.H.
1081 (A.D. 1670-71) the Shanabila Sayyids were Kazis of Zayla and retained
the office for 138 years. It passed two generations ago into the hands of
Mohammed Musa, a Hawiyah, and the present Kazi is his nephew.

The origin of Zayla, or, as it is locally called, "Audal," is lost in the
fogs of Phoenician fable. The Avalites [2] of the Periplus and Pliny, it
was in earliest ages dependent upon the kingdom of Axum. [3] About the
seventh century, when the Southern Arabs penetrated into the heart of
Abyssinia [4], it became the great factory of the eastern coast, and rose
to its height of splendour. Taki el Din Makrizi [5] includes under the
name of Zayla, a territory of forty-three days' march by forty, and
divides it into seven great provinces, speaking about fifty languages, and
ruled by Amirs, subject to the Hati (Hatze) of Abyssinia.

In the fourteenth century it became celebrated by its wars with the kings
of Abyssinia: sustaining severe defeats the Moslems retired upon their
harbour, which, after an obstinate defence fell into the hands of the
Christians. The land was laid waste, the mosques were converted into
churches, and the Abyssinians returned to their mountains laden with
booty. About A.D. 1400, Saad el Din, the heroic prince of Zayla, was
besieged in his city by the Hatze David the Second: slain by a spear-
thrust, he left his people powerless in the hands of their enemies, till
his sons, Sabr el Din, Ali, Mansur, and Jemal el Din retrieved the cause
of El Islam.

Ibn Batuta, a voyager of the fourteenth century, thus describes the place:
"I then went from Aden by sea, and after four days came to the city of
Zayla. This is a settlement, of the Berbers [6], a people of Sudan, of the
Shafia sect. Their country is a desert of two months' extent; the first
part is termed Zayla, the last Makdashu. The greatest number of the
inhabitants, however, are of the Rafizah sect. [7] Their food is mostly
camels' flesh and fish. [8] The stench of the country is extreme, as is
also its filth, from the stink of the fish and the blood of camels which
are slaughtered in its streets."

About A.D. 1500 the Turks conquered Yemen, and the lawless Janissaries,
"who lived upon the very bowels of commerce" [9], drove the peaceable Arab
merchants to the opposite shore. The trade of India, flying from the same
enemy, took refuge in Adel, amongst its partners. [10] The Turks of
Arabia, though they were blind to the cause, were sensible of the great
influx of wealth into the opposite kingdoms. They took possession,
therefore, of Zayla, which they made a den of thieves, established there
what they called a custom-house [11], and, by means of that post and
galleys cruising in the narrow straits of Bab el Mandeb, they laid the
Indian trade to Adel under heavy contributions that might indemnify them
for the great desertion their violence and injustice had occasioned in

This step threatened the very existence both of Adel and Abyssinia; and
considering the vigorous government of the one, and the weak politics and
prejudices of the other, it is more than probable that the Turks would
have subdued both, had they not in India, their chief object, met the
Portuguese, strongly established.

Bartema, travelling in A.D. 1503, treats in his 15th chapter of "Zeila in
AEthiopia and the great fruitlessness thereof, and of certain strange
beasts seen there."

"In this city is great frequentation of merchandise, as in a most famous
mart. There is marvellous abundance of gold and iron, and an innumerable
number of black slaves sold for small prices; these are taken in War by
the Mahomedans out of AEthiopia, of the kingdom of Presbyter Johannes, or
Preciosus Johannes, which some also call the king of Jacobins or Abyssins,
being a Christian; and are carried away from thence into Persia, Arabia
Felix, Babylonia of Nilus or Alcair, and Meccah. In this city justice and
good laws are observed. [12] ... It hath an innumerable multitude of
merchants; the walls are greatly decayed, and the haven rude and
despicable. The King or Sultan of the city is a Mahomedan, and
entertaineth in wages a great multitude of footmen and horsemen. They are
greatly given to war, and wear only one loose single vesture: they are of
dark ash colour, inclining to black."

In July 1516 Zayla was taken, and the town burned by a Portuguese
armament, under Lopez Suarez Alberguiera. When the Turks were compelled
to retire from Southern Arabia, it became subject to the Prince of Senaa,
who gave it in perpetuity to the family of a Senaani merchant.

The kingdom of Yemen falling into decay, Zayla passed under the authority
of the Sherif of Mocha, who, though receiving no part of the revenue, had
yet the power of displacing the Governor. By him it was farmed out to the
Hajj Sharmarkay, who paid annually to Sayyid Mohammed el Barr, at Mocha,
the sum of 750 crowns, and reserved all that he could collect above that
sum for himself. In A.D. 1848 Zayla was taken from the family El Barr, and
farmed out to Sharmarkay by the Turkish Governor of Mocha and Hodaydah.

The extant remains at Saad el Din are principally those of water-courses,
rude lines of coralline, stretching across the plain towards wells, now
lost [13], and diminutive tanks, made apparently to collect rain water.
One of these latter is a work of some art--a long sunken vault, with a
pointed arch projecting a few feet above the surface of the ground;
outside it is of rough stone, the interior is carefully coated with fine
lime, and from the roof long stalactites depend. Near it is a cemetery:
the graves are, for the most part, provided with large slabs of close
black basalt, planted in the ground edgeways, and in the shape of a small
oblong. The material was most probably brought from the mountains near
Tajurrah: at another part of the island I found it in the shape of a
gigantic mill-stone, half imbedded in the loose sand. Near the cemetery we
observed a mound of rough stones surrounding an upright pole; this is the
tomb of Shaykh Saad el Din, formerly the hero, now the favourite patron
saint of Zayla,--still popularly venerated, as was proved by the remains
of votive banquets, broken bones, dried garbage, and stones blackened by
the fire.

After wandering through the island, which contained not a human being save
a party of Somal boatmen, cutting firewood for Aden, and having massacred
a number of large fishing hawks and small sea-birds, to astonish the
natives, our companions, we returned to the landing-place. Here an awning
had been spread; the goat destined for our dinner--I have long since
conquered all dislike, dear L., to seeing dinner perambulating--had been
boiled and disposed in hunches upon small mountains of rice, and jars of
sweet water stood in the air to cool. After feeding, regardless of
Quartana and her weird sisterhood, we all lay down for siesta in the light
sea-breeze. Our slumbers were heavy, as the Zayla people say is ever the
case at Saad el Din, and the sun had declined low ere we awoke. The tide
was out, and we waded a quarter of a mile to the boat, amongst giant crabs
who showed grisly claws, sharp coralline, and sea-weed so thick as to
become almost a mat. You must believe me when I tell you that in the
shallower parts the sun was painfully hot, even to my well tried feet. We
picked up a few specimens of fine sponge, and coral, white and red, which,
if collected, might be valuable to Zayla, and, our pic-nic concluded, we
returned home.

On the 14th November we left the town to meet a caravan of the Danakil
[14], and to visit the tomb of the great saint Abu Zarbay. The former
approached in a straggling line of asses, and about fifty camels laiden
with cows' hides, ivories and one Abyssinian slave-girl. The men were wild
as ourang-outangs, and the women fit only to flog cattle: their animals
were small, meagre-looking, and loosely made; the asses of the Bedouins,
however, are far superior to those of Zayla, and the camels are,
comparatively speaking, well bred. [15] In a few minutes the beasts were
unloaded, the Gurgis or wigwams pitched, and all was prepared for repose.
A caravan so extensive being an unusual event,--small parties carrying
only grain come in once or twice a week,--the citizens abandoned even
their favourite game of ball, with an eye to speculation. We stood at
"Government House," over the Ashurbara Gate, to see the Bedouins, and we
quizzed (as Town men might denounce a tie or scoff at a boot) the huge
round shields and the uncouth spears of these provincials. Presently they
entered the streets, where we witnessed their frantic dance in presence of
the Hajj and other authorities. This is the wild men's way of expressing
their satisfaction that Fate has enabled them to convoy the caravan
through all the dangers of the desert.

The Shaykh Ibrahim Abu Zarbay [16] lies under a whitewashed dome close to
the Ashurbara Gate of Zayla: an inscription cut in wood over the doorway
informs us that the building dates from A.H. 1155=AD. 1741-2. It is now
dilapidated, the lintel is falling in, the walls are decaying, and the
cupola, which is rudely built, with primitive gradients,--each step
supported as in Cashmere and other parts of India, by wooden beams,--
threatens the heads of the pious. The building is divided into two
compartments, forming a Mosque and a Mazar or place of pious visitation:
in the latter are five tombs, the two largest covered with common chintz
stuff of glaring colours. Ibrahim was one of the forty-four Hazrami saints
who landed at Berberah, sat in solemn conclave upon Auliya Kumbo or Holy
Hill, and thence dispersed far and wide for the purpose of propagandism.
He travelled to Harar about A.D. 1430 [17], converted many to El Islam,
and left there an honored memory. His name is immortalised in El Yemen by
the introduction of El Kat. [17]

Tired of the town, I persuaded the Hajj to send me with an escort to the
Hissi or well. At daybreak I set out with four Arab matchlock-men, and
taking a direction nearly due west, waded and walked over an alluvial
plain flooded by every high tide. On our way we passed lines of donkeys
and camels carrying water-skins from the town; they were under guard like
ourselves, and the sturdy dames that drove them indulged in many a loud
joke at our expense. After walking about four miles we arrived at what is
called the Takhushshah--the sandy bed of a torrent nearly a mile broad
[19], covered with a thin coat of caked mud: in the centre is a line of
pits from three to four feet deep, with turbid water at the bottom. Around
them were several frame-works of four upright sticks connected by
horizontal bars, and on these were stretched goats'-skins, forming the
cattle-trough of the Somali country. About the wells stood troops of
camels, whose Eesa proprietors scowled fiercely at us, and stalked over
the plain with their long, heavy spears: for protection against these
people, the citizens have erected a kind of round tower, with a ladder for
a staircase. Near it are some large tamarisks and the wild henna of the
Somali country, which supplies a sweet-smelling flower, but is valueless
as a dye. A thick hedge of thorn-trees surrounds the only cultivated
ground near Zayla: as Ibn Said declared in old times, "the people have no
gardens, and know nothing of fruits." The variety and the luxuriance of
growth, however, prove that industry is the sole desideratum. I remarked
the castor-plant,--no one knows its name or nature [20],--the Rayhan or
Basil, the Kadi, a species of aloe, whose strongly scented flowers the
Arabs of Yemen are fond of wearing in their turbans. [21] Of vegetables,
there were cucumbers, egg-plants, and the edible hibiscus; the only fruit
was a small kind of water-melon.

After enjoying a walk through the garden and a bath at the well, I
started, gun in hand, towards the jungly plain that stretches towards the
sea. It abounds in hares, and in a large description of spur-fowl [22];
the beautiful little sand antelope, scarcely bigger than an English rabbit
[23], bounded over the bushes, its thin legs being scarcely perceptible
during the spring. I was afraid to fire with ball, the place being full of
Bedouins' huts, herds, and dogs, and the vicinity of man made the animals
too wild for small shot. In revenge, I did considerable havoc amongst the
spur-fowl, who proved equally good for sport and the pot, besides knocking
over a number of old crows, whose gall the Arab soldiers wanted for
collyrium. [24] Beyond us lay Warabalay or Hyaenas' hill [25]: we did not
visit it, as all its tenants had been driven away by the migration of the

Returning, we breakfasted in the garden, and rain coming on, we walked out
to enjoy the Oriental luxury of a wetting. Ali Iskandar, an old Arab
mercenary, afforded us infinite amusement: a little opium made him half
crazy, when his sarcastic pleasantries never ceased. We then brought out
the guns, and being joined by the other escort, proceeded to a trial of
skill. The Arabs planted a bone about 200 paces from us,--a long distance
for a people who seldom fire beyond fifty yards;--moreover, the wind blew
the flash strongly in their faces. Some shot two or three dozen times wide
of the mark and were derided accordingly: one man hit the bone; he at once
stopped practice, as the wise in such matters will do, and shook hands
with all the party. He afterwards showed that his success on this occasion
had been accidental; but he was a staunch old sportsman, remarkable, as
the Arab Bedouins generally are, for his skill and perseverance in
stalking. Having no rifle, I remained a spectator. My revolvers excited
abundant attention, though none would be persuaded to touch them. The
largest, which fitted with a stock became an excellent carbine, was at
once named Abu Sittah (the Father of Six) and the Shaytan or Devil: the
pocket pistol became the Malunah or Accursed, and the distance to which it
carried ball made every man wonder. The Arabs had antiquated matchlocks,
mostly worn away to paper thinness at the mouth: as usual they fired with
the right elbow raised to the level of the ear, and the left hand grasping
the barrel, where with us the breech would be. Hassan Turki had one of
those fine old Shishkhanah rifles formerly made at Damascus and Senaa: it
carried a two-ounce ball with perfect correctness, but was so badly
mounted in its block-butt, shaped like a Dutch cheese, that it always
required a rest.

On our return home we met a party of Eesa girls, who derided my colour and
doubted the fact of my being a Moslem. The Arabs declared me to be a
Shaykh of Shaykhs, and translated to the prettiest of the party an
impromptu proposal of marriage. She showed but little coyness, and stated
her price to be an Audulli or necklace [26], a couple of Tobes,--she asked
one too many--a few handfuls of beads, [27] and a small present for her
papa. She promised, naively enough, to call next day and inspect the
goods: the publicity of the town did not deter her, but the shamefacedness
of my two companions prevented our meeting again. Arrived at Zayla after a
sunny walk, the Arab escort loaded their guns, formed a line for me to
pass along, fired a salute, and entered to coffee and sweetmeats.

On the 24th of November I had an opportunity of seeing what a timid people
are these Somal of the towns, who, as has been well remarked, are, like
the settled Arabs, the worst specimens of their race. Three Eesa Bedouins
appeared before the southern gate, slaughtered a cow, buried its head, and
sent for permission to visit one of their number who had been imprisoned
by the Hajj for the murder of his son Masud. The place was at once thrown
into confusion, the gates were locked, and the walls manned with Arab
matchlock men: my three followers armed themselves, and I was summoned to
the fray. Some declared that the Bedouins were "doing" [28] the town;
others that they were the van of a giant host coming to ravish, sack, and
slay: it turned out that these Bedouins had preceded their comrades, who
were bringing in, as the price of blood [29], an Abyssinian slave, seven
camels, seven cows, a white mule, and a small black mare. The prisoner was
visited by his brother, who volunteered to share his confinement, and the
meeting was described as most pathetic: partly from mental organisation
and partly from the peculiarities of society, the only real tie
acknowledged by these people is that which connects male kinsmen. The
Hajj, after speaking big, had the weakness to let the murderer depart
alive: this measure, like peace-policy in general, is the best and surest
way to encourage bloodshed and mutilation. But a few months before, an
Eesa Bedouin enticed out of the gates a boy about fifteen, and slaughtered
him for the sake of wearing the feather. His relations were directed to
receive the Diyat or blood fine, and the wretch was allowed to depart
unhurt--a silly clemency!

You must not suppose, dear L., that I yielded myself willingly to the
weary necessity of a month at Zayla. But how explain to you the obstacles
thrown in our way by African indolence, petty intrigue, and interminable
suspicion? Four months before leaving Aden I had taken the precaution of
meeting the Hajj, requesting him to select for us an Abban [30], or
protector, and to provide camels and mules; two months before starting I
had advanced to him the money required in a country where nothing can be
done without a whole or partial prepayment. The protector was to be
procured anywhere, the cattle at Tajurrah, scarcely a day's sail from
Zayla: when I arrived nothing was forthcoming. I at once begged the
governor to exert himself: he politely promised to start a messenger that
hour, and he delayed doing so for ten days. An easterly wind set in and
gave the crew an excuse for wasting another fortnight. [31] Travellers are
an irritable genus: I stormed and fretted at the delays to show
earnestness of purpose. All the effect was a paroxysm of talking. The Hajj
and his son treated me, like a spoilt child, to a double allowance of food
and milk: they warned me that the small-pox was depopulating Harar, that
the road swarmed with brigands, and that the Amir or prince was certain
destruction,--I contented myself with determining that both were true
Oriental hyperbolists, and fell into more frequent fits of passion. The
old man could not comprehend my secret. "If the English," he privately
remarked, "wish to take Harar, let them send me 500 soldiers; if not, I
can give all information concerning it." When convinced of my
determination to travel, he applied his mind to calculating the benefit
which might be derived from the event, and, as the following pages will
show, he was not without success.

Towards the end of November, four camels were procured, an Abban was
engaged, we hired two women cooks and a fourth servant; my baggage was
reformed, the cloth and tobacco being sewn up in matting, and made to fit
the camels' sides [32]; sandals were cut out for walking, letters were
written, messages of dreary length,--too important to be set down in black
and white,--were solemnly entrusted to us, palavers were held, and affairs
began to wear the semblance of departure. The Hajj strongly recommended us
to one of the principal families of the Gudabirsi tribe, who would pass us
on to their brother-in-law Adan, the Gerad or prince of the Girhi; and he,
in due time, to his kinsman the Amir of Harar. The chain was commenced by
placing us under the protection of one Raghe, a petty Eesa chief of the
Mummasan clan. By the good aid of the Hajj and our sweetmeats, he was
persuaded, for the moderate consideration of ten Tobes [33], to accompany
us to the frontier of his clan, distant about fifty miles, to introduce us
to the Gudabirsi, and to provide us with three men as servants, and a
suitable escort, a score or so, in dangerous places. He began, with us in
an extravagant manner, declaring that nothing but "name" induced him to
undertake the perilous task; that he had left his flocks and herds at a
season of uncommon risk, and that all his relations must receive a certain
honorarium. But having paid at least three pounds for a few days of his
society, we declined such liberality, and my companions, I believe,
declared that it would be "next time:"--on all such occasions I make a
point of leaving the room, since for one thing given at least five are
promised on oath. Raghe warned us seriously to prepare for dangers and
disasters, and this seemed to be the general opinion of Zayla, whose timid
citizens determined that we were tired of our lives. The cold had driven
the Nomads from the hills to the warm maritime Plains [34], we should
therefore traverse a populous region; and, as the End of Time aptly
observed, "Man eats you up, the Desert does not." Moreover this year the
Ayyal Nuh Ismail, a clan of the Habr Awal tribe, is "out," and has been
successful against the Eesa, who generally are the better men. They sweep
the country in Kaum or Commandos [35], numbering from twenty to two
hundred troopers, armed with assegai, dagger, and shield, and carrying a
water skin and dried meat for a three days' ride, sufficient to scour the
length of the low land. The honest fellows are not so anxious to plunder
as to ennoble themselves by taking life: every man hangs to his saddle bow
an ostrich [36] feather,--emblem of truth,--and the moment his javelin has
drawn blood, he sticks it into his tufty pole with as much satisfaction as
we feel when attaching a medal to our shell-jackets. It is by no means
necessary to slay the foe in fair combat: Spartan-like, treachery is
preferred to stand-up fighting; and you may measure their ideas of honor,
by the fact that women are murdered in cold blood, as by the Amazulus,
with the hope that the unborn child may prove a male. The hero carries
home the trophy of his prowess [37], and his wife, springing from her
tent, utters a long shrill scream of joy, a preliminary to boasting of her
man's valour, and bitterly taunting the other possessors of _noirs
faineants_: the derided ladies abuse their lords with peculiar virulence,
and the lords fall into paroxysms of envy, hatred, and malice. During my
short stay at Zayla six or seven murders were committed close to the
walls: the Abban brought news, a few hours before our departure, that two
Eesas had been slaughtered by the Habr Awal. The Eesa and Dankali also
have a blood feud, which causes perpetual loss of life. But a short time
ago six men of these two tribes were travelling together, when suddenly
the last but one received from the hindermost a deadly spear thrust in the
back. The wounded man had the presence of mind to plunge his dagger in the
side of the wayfarer who preceded him, thus dying, as the people say, in
company. One of these events throws the country into confusion, for the
_vendetta_ is rancorous and bloody, as in ancient Germany or in modern
Corsica. Our Abban enlarged upon the unpleasant necessity of travelling
all night towards the hills, and lying _perdu_ during the day. The most
dangerous times are dawn and evening tide: the troopers spare their horses
during the heat, and themselves during the dew-fall. Whenever, in the
desert,--where, says the proverb, all men are enemies--you sight a fellow
creature from afar, you wave the right arm violently up and down,
shouting "War Joga! War Joga!"--stand still! stand still! If they halt,
you send a parliamentary to within speaking distance. Should they advance
[38], you fire, taking especial care not to miss; when two saddles are
emptied, the rest are sure to decamp.

I had given the Abban orders to be in readiness,--my patience being
thoroughly exhausted,--on Sunday, the 26th of November, and determined to
walk the whole way, rather than waste another day waiting for cattle. As
the case had become hopeless, a vessel was descried standing straight from
Tajurrah, and, suddenly as could happen in the Arabian Nights, four fine
mules, saddled and bridled, Abyssinian fashion, appeared at the door. [39]


[1] Brace describes Zayla as "a small island, on the very coast of Adel."
To reconcile discrepancy, he adopts the usual clumsy expedient of
supposing two cities of the same name, one situated seven degrees south of
the other. Salt corrects the error, but does not seem to have heard of old
Zayla's insular position.

[2] The inhabitants were termed Avalitae, and the Bay "Sinus Avaliticus."
Some modern travellers have confounded it with Adule or Adulis, the port
of Axum, founded by fugitive Egyptian slaves. The latter, however, lies
further north: D'Anville places it at Arkiko, Salt at Zula (or Azule),
near the head of Annesley Bay.

[3] The Arabs were probably the earliest colonists of this coast. Even the
Sawahil people retain a tradition that their forefathers originated in the
south of Arabia.

[4] To the present day the district of Gozi is peopled by Mohammedans
called Arablet, "whose progenitors," according to Harris, "are said by
tradition to have been left there prior to the reign of Nagasi, first King
of Shoa. Hossain, Wahabit, and Abdool Kurreem, generals probably detached
from the victorious army of Graan (Mohammed Gragne), are represented to
have come from Mecca, and to have taken possession of the country,--the
legend assigning to the first of these warriors as his capital, the
populous village of Medina, which is conspicuous on a cone among the
mountains, shortly after entering the valley of Robi."

[5] Historia Regum Islamiticorum in Abyssinia, Lugd. Bat. 1790. [6] The
affinity between the Somal and the Berbers of Northern Africa, and their
descent from Canaan, son of Ham, has been learnedly advanced and refuted
by several Moslem authors. The theory appears to have arisen from a
mistake; Berberah, the great emporium of the Somali country, being
confounded with the Berbers of Nubia.

[7] Probably Zaidi from Yemen. At present the people of Zayla are all
orthodox Sunnites.

[8] Fish, as will be seen in these pages, is no longer a favourite article
of diet.

[9] Bruce, book 8.

[10] Hence the origin of the trade between Africa and Cutch, which
continues uninterrupted to the present time. Adel, Arabia, and India, as
Bruce remarks, were three partners in one trade, who mutually exported
their produce to Europe, Asia, and Africa, at that time the whole known

[11] The Turks, under a show of protecting commerce, established these
posts in their different ports. But they soon made it appear that the end
proposed was only to ascertain who were the subjects from whom they could
levy the most enormous extortions. Jeddah, Zebid, and Mocha, the places of
consequence nearest to Abyssinia on the Arabian coast, Suakin, a seaport
town on the very barriers of Abyssinia, in the immediate way of their
caravan to Cairo on the African side, were each under the command of a
Turkish Pasha and garrisoned by Turkish troops sent thither from
Constantinople by the emperors Selim and Sulayman.

[12] Bartema's account of its productions is as follows: "The soil beareth
wheat and hath abundance of flesh and divers other commodious things. It
hath also oil, not of olives, but of some other thing, I know not what.
There is also plenty of honey and wax; there are likewise certain sheep
having their tails of the weight of sixteen pounds, and exceeding fat; the
head and neck are black, and all the rest white. There are also sheep
altogether white, and having tails of a cubit long, and hanging down like
a great cluster of grapes, and have also great laps of skin hanging down
from their throats, as have bulls and oxen, hanging down almost to the
ground. There are also certain kind with horns like unto harts' horns;
these are wild, and when they be taken are given to the Sultan of that
city as a kingly present. I saw there also certain kind having only one
horn in the midst of the forehead, as hath the unicorn, and about a span
of length, but the horn bendeth backward: they are of bright shining red
colour. But they that have harts' horns are inclining to black colour.
Living is there good and cheap."

[13] The people have a tradition that a well of sweet water exists unseen
in some part of the island. When Saad el Din was besieged in Zayla by the
Hatze David, the host of El Islam suffered severely for the want of the
fresh element.

[14] The singular is Dankali, the plural Danakil: both words are Arabic,
the vernacular name being "Afar" or "Afer," the Somali "Afarnimun." The
word is pronounced like the Latin "Afer," an African.

[15] Occasionally at Zayla--where all animals are expensive--Dankali
camels may be bought: though small, they resist hardship and fatigue
better than the other kinds. A fair price would be about ten dollars. The
Somal divide their animals into two kinds, Gel Ad and Ayyun. The former is
of white colour, loose and weak, but valuable, I was told by Lieut. Speke,
in districts where little water is found: the Ayyun is darker and
stronger; its price averages about a quarter more than the Gel Ad.

To the Arabian traveller nothing can be more annoying than these Somali
camels. They must be fed four hours during the day, otherwise they cannot
march. They die from change of food or sudden removal to another country.
Their backs are ever being galled, and, with all precautions, a month's
march lays them up for three times that period. They are never used for
riding, except in cases of sickness or accidents.

The Somali ass is generally speaking a miserable animal. Lieut. Speke,
however, reports that on the windward coast it is not to be despised. At
Harar I found a tolerable breed, superior in appearance but inferior in
size to the thoroughbred little animals at Aden. They are never ridden;
their principal duty is that of carrying water-skins to and from the

[16] He is generally called Abu Zerbin, more rarely Abu Zarbayn, and Abu
Zarbay. I have preferred the latter orthography upon the authority of the
Shaykh Jami, most learned of the Somal.

[17] In the same year (A.D. 1429-30) the Shaykh el Shazili, buried under a
dome at Mocha, introduced coffee into Arabia.

[18] The following is an extract from the Pharmaceutical Journal, vol.
xii. No. v. Nov. 1. 1852. Notes upon the drugs observed at Aden Arabia, by
James Vaughan, Esq., M.R.C.S.E., Assist. Surg., B.A., Civil and Port.
Surg., Aden, Arabia.

"Kat [Arabic], the name of a drug which is brought into Aden from the
interior, and largely used, especially by the Arabs, as a pleasurable
excitant. It is generally imported in small camel-loads, consisting of a
number of parcels, each containing about forty slender twigs with the
leaves attached, and carefully wrapped so as to prevent as much as
possible exposure to the atmosphere. The leaves form the edible part, and
these, when chewed, are said to produce great hilarity of spirits, and an
agreeable state of wakefulness. Some estimate may be formed of the strong
predilection which the Arabs have for this drug from the quantity used in
Aden alone, which averages about 280 camel-loads annually. The market
price is one and a quarter rupees per parcel, and the exclusive privilege
of selling it is farmed by the government for 1500 rupees per year.
Forskal found the plant growing on the mountains of Yemen, and has
enumerated it as a new genus in the class Pentandria, under the name of
Catha. He notices two species, and distinguishes them as _Catha edulis_
and _Catha spinosa_. According to his account it is cultivated on the same
ground as coffee, and is planted from cuttings. Besides the effects above
stated, the Arabs, he tells us, believe the land where it grows to be
secure from the inroads of plague; and that a twig of the Kat carried in
the bosom is a certain safeguard against infection. The learned botanist
observes, with respect to these supposed virtues, 'Gustus foliorum tamen
virtutem tantam indicare non videtur.' Like coffee, Kat, from its
acknowledged stimulating effects, has been a fertile theme for the
exercise of Mahomedan casuistry, and names of renown are ranged on both
sides of the question, whether the use of Kat does or does not contravene
the injunction of the Koran, Thou shalt not drink wine or anything
intoxicating. The succeeding notes, borrowed chiefly from De Sacy's
researches, may be deemed worthy of insertion here.

"Sheikh Abdool Kader Ansari Jezeri, a learned Mahomedan author, in his
treatise on the use of coffee, quotes the following from the writings of
Fakr ood Deen Mekki:--'It is said that the first who introduced coffee was
the illustrious saint Aboo Abdallah Mahomed Dhabhani ibn Said; but we have
learned by the testimony of many persons that the use of coffee in Yemen,
its origin, and first introduction into that country are due to the
learned All Shadeli ibn Omar, one of the disciples of the learned doctor
Nasr ood Deen, who is regarded as one of the chiefs among the order
Shadeli, and whose worth attests the high degree of spirituality to which
they had attained. Previous to that time they made coffee of the vegetable
substance called Cafta, which is the same as the leaf known under the name
of Kat, and not of Boon (the coffee berry) nor any preparation of Boon.
The use of this beverage extended in course of time as far as Aden, but in
the days of Mahomed Dhabhani the vegetable substance from which it was
prepared disappeared from Aden. Then it was that the Sheik advised those
who had become his disciples to try the drink made from the Boon, which
was found to produce the same effect as the Kat, inducing sleeplessness,
and that it was attended with less expense and trouble. The use of coffee
has been kept up from that time to the present.'

"D'Herbelot states that the beverage called Calmat al Catiat or Caftah,
was prohibited in Yemen in consequence of its effects upon the brain. On
the other hand a synod of learned Mussulmans is said to have decreed that
as beverages of Kat and Cafta do not impair the health or impede the
observance of religious duties, but only increase hilarity and good-
humour, it was lawful to use them, as also the drink made from the boon or
coffee-berry. I am not aware that Kat is used in Aden in any other way
than for mastication. From what I have heard, however, I believe that a
decoction resembling tea is made from the leaf by the Arabs in the
interior; and one who is well acquainted with our familiar beverage
assures me that the effects are not unlike those produced by strong green
tea, with this advantage in favour of Kat, that the excitement is always
of a pleasing and agreeable kind. [Note: "Mr. Vaughan has transmitted two
specimens called Tubbare Kat and Muktaree Kat, from the districts in which
they are produced: the latter fetches the lower price. Catha edulis
_Forsk._, Nat. Ord. Celastraceae, is figured in Dr. Lindley's Vegetable
Kingdom, p. 588. (London, 1846). But there is a still more complete
representation of the plant under the name of Catha Forskalii _Richard_,
in a work published under the auspices of the French government, entitled,
'Voyage en Abyssinie execute pendant les annees 1839-43, par une
commission scientifique composee de MM. Theophile Lefebvre, Lieut. du
Vaisseau, A. Petit et Martin-Dillon, docteurs medecins, naturalistes du
Museum, Vignaud dessinateur.' The botanical portion of this work, by M.
Achille Richard, is regarded either as a distinct publication under the
title of Tentamen Florae Abyssinicae, or as a part of the Voyage en
Abyssinie. M. Richard enters into some of the particulars relative to the
synonyms of the plant, from which it appears that Vahl referred Forskal's
genus Catha to the Linnaean genus Celastrus, changing the name of Catha
edulis to Celastrus edulis. Hochstetter applied the name of Celastrus
edulis to an Abyssinian species (Celastrus obscurus _Richard_), which he
imagined identical with Forskal's Catha edulis, while of the real Catha
edulis _Forsk._, he formed a new genus and species, under the name of
Trigonotheca serrata _Hochs_. Nat. Ord. Hippocrateaceae. I quote the
following references from the Tentamen Florae Abyssinicae, vol. i. p. 134.:
'Catha Forskalii _Nob._ Catha No. 4. Forsk. loc. cit, (Flor. AEgypt. Arab.
p. 63.) Trigonotheca serrata _Hochs._ in pl. Schimp. Abyss. sect. ii, No.
649. Celastrus edulis _Vahl, Ecl._ 1. 21.' Although In the Flora
AEgyptiaco-Arabica of Forskal no specific name is applied to the Catha at
p. 63, it is enumerated as Catha edulis at p. 107. The reference to
Celastrus edulis is not contained in the Eclogae Americanae of Vahl, but in
the author's Symbolae Botanicae (Hanulae, 1790, fol.) pars i. p. 21. (Daniel
Hanbury signed.)]

[19] This is probably the "River of Zayla," alluded to by Ibn Said and
others. Like all similar features in the low country, it is a mere surface

[20] In the upper country I found a large variety growing wild in the
Fiumaras. The Bedouins named it Buamado, but ignored its virtues.

[21] This ornament is called Musbgur.

[22] A large brown bird with black legs, not unlike the domestic fowl. The
Arabs call it Dijajat el Barr, (the wild hen): the Somal "digarin," a word
also applied to the Guinea fowl, which it resembles in its short strong
fight and habit of running. Owing to the Bedouin prejudice against eating
birds, it is found in large coveys all over the country.

[23] It has been described by Salt and others. The Somal call it Sagaro,
the Arabs Ghezalah: it is found throughout the land generally in pairs,
and is fond of ravines under the hills, beds of torrents, and patches of
desert vegetation. It is easily killed by a single pellet of shot striking
the neck. The Somal catch it by a loop of strong twine hung round a gap in
a circuit of thorn hedge, or they run it down on foot, an operation
requiring half a day on account of its fleetness, which enables it to
escape the jackal and wild dog. When caught it utters piercing cries. Some
Bedouins do not eat the flesh: generally, however, it is considered a
delicacy, and the skulls and bones of these little animals lie strewed
around the kraals.

[24] The Somal hold the destruction of the "Tuka" next in religious merit
to that of the snake. They have a tradition that the crow, originally
white, became black for his sins. When the Prophet and Abubekr were
concealed in the cave, the pigeon hid there from their pursuers: the crow,
on the contrary, sat screaming "ghar! ghar!" (the cave! the cave!) upon
which Mohammed ordered him into eternal mourning, and ever to repeat the
traitorous words.

There are several species of crows in this part of Africa. Besides the
large-beaked bird of the Harar Hills, I found the common European variety,
with, however, the breast feathers white tipped in small semicircles as
far as the abdomen. The little "king-crow" of India is common: its bright
red eye and purplish plume render it a conspicuous object as it perches
upon the tall camel's back or clings to waving plants.

[25] The Waraba or Durwa is, according to Mr. Blyth, the distinguished
naturalist, now Curator of the Asiatic Society's Museum at Calcutta, the
Canis pictus seu venaticus (Lycaon pictus or Wilde Honde of the Cape
Boers). It seems to be the Chien Sauvage or Cynhyene (Cynhyaena venatica)
of the French traveller M. Delegorgue, who in his "Voyage dans l'Afrique
Australe," minutely and diffusely describes it. Mr. Gordon Cumming
supposes it to form the connecting link between the wolf and the hyaena.
This animal swarms throughout the Somali country, prowls about the camps
all night, dogs travellers, and devours every thing he can find, at times
pulling down children and camels, and when violently pressed by hunger,
men. The Somal declare the Waraba to be a hermaphrodite; so the ancients
supposed the hyaena to be of both sexes, an error arising from the peculiar
appearance of an orifice situated near two glands which secrete an
unctuous fluid.

[26] Men wear for ornament round the neck a bright red leather thong, upon
which are strung in front two square bits of true or imitation amber or
honey stone: this "Mekkawi," however, is seldom seen amongst the Bedouins.
The Audulli or woman's necklace is a more elaborate affair of amber, glass
beads, generally coloured, and coral: every matron who can afford it,
possesses at least one of these ornaments. Both sexes carry round the
necks or hang above the right elbow, a talisman against danger and
disease, either in a silver box or more generally sewn up in a small case
of red morocco. The Bedouins are fond of attaching a tooth-stick to the
neck thong.

[27] Beads are useful in the Somali country as presents, and to pay for
trifling purchases: like tobacco they serve for small change. The kind
preferred by women and children is the "binnur," large and small white
porcelain: the others are the red, white, green, and spotted twisted
beads, round and oblong. Before entering a district the traveller should
ascertain what may be the especial variety. Some kind are greedily sought
for in one place, and in another rejected with disdain.

[28] The Somali word "Fal" properly means "to do;" "to bewitch," is its
secondary sense.

[29] The price of blood in the Somali country is the highest sanctioned by
El Islam. It must be remembered that amongst the pagan Arabs, the Korayah
"diyat," was twenty she-camels. Abd el Muttaleb, grandfather of Mohammed,
sacrificed 100 animals to ransom the life of his son, forfeited by a rash
vow, and from that time the greater became the legal number. The Somal
usually demand 100 she-camels, or 300 sheep and a few cows; here, as in
Arabia, the sum is made up by all the near relations of the slayer; 30 of
the animals may be aged, and 30 under age, but the rest must be sound and
good. Many tribes take less,--from strangers 100 sheep, a cow, and a
camel;--but after the equivalent is paid, the murderer or one of his clan,
contrary to the spirit of El Islam, is generally killed by the kindred or
tribe of the slain. When blood is shed in the same tribe, the full
reparation, if accepted by the relatives, is always exacted; this serves
the purpose of preventing fratricidal strife, for in such a nation of
murderers, only the Diyat prevents the taking of life.

Blood money, however, is seldom accepted unless the murdered man has been
slain with a lawful weapon. Those who kill with the Dankaleh, a poisonous
juice rubbed upon meat, are always put to death by the members of their
own tribe.

[30] The Abban or protector of the Somali country is the Mogasa of the
Gallas, the Akh of El Hejaz, the Ghafir of the Sinaitic Peninsula, and the
Rabia of Eastern Arabia. It must be observed, however, that the word
denotes the protege as well as the protector; In the latter sense it is
the polite address to a Somali, as Ya Abbaneh, O Protectress, would be to
his wife.

The Abban acts at once as broker, escort, agent, and interpreter, and the
institution may be considered the earliest form of transit dues. In all
sales he receives a certain percentage, his food and lodging are provided
at the expense of his employer, and he not unfrequently exacts small
presents from his kindred. In return he is bound to arrange all
differences, and even to fight the battles of his client against his
fellow-countrymen. Should the Abban be slain, his tribe is bound to take
up the cause and to make good the losses of their protege. El Taabanah,
the office, being one of "name," the eastern synonym for our honour, as
well as of lucre, causes frequent quarrels, which become exceedingly

According to the laws of the country, the Abban is master of the life and
property of his client. The traveller's success will depend mainly upon
his selection: if inferior in rank, the protector can neither forward nor
defend him; if timid, he will impede advance; and if avaricious, he will,
by means of his relatives, effectually stop the journey by absorbing the
means of prosecuting it. The best precaution against disappointment would
be the registering Abbans at Aden; every donkey-boy will offer himself as
a protector, but only the chiefs of tribes should be provided with
certificates. During my last visit to Africa, I proposed that English
officers visiting the country should be provided with servants not
protectors, the former, however, to be paid like the latter; all the
people recognised the propriety of the step.

In the following pages occur manifold details concerning the complicated
subject, El Taabanah.

[31] Future travellers would do well either to send before them a trusty
servant with orders to buy cattle; or, what would be better, though a
little more expensive, to take with them from Aden all the animals

[32] The Somal use as camel saddles the mats which compose their huts;
these lying loose upon the animal's back, cause, by slipping backwards and
forwards, the loss of many a precious hour, and in wet weather become half
a load. The more civilised make up of canvass or "gunny bags" stuffed with
hay and provided with cross bars, a rude packsaddle, which is admirably
calculated to gall the animal's back. Future travellers would do well to
purchase camel-saddles at Aden, where they are cheap and well made.

[33] He received four cloths of Cutch canvass, and six others of coarse
American sheeting. At Zayla these articles are double the Aden value,
which would be about thirteen rupees or twenty-six shillings; in the bush
the price is quadrupled. Before leaving us the Abban received at least
double the original hire. Besides small presents of cloth, dates, tobacco
and rice to his friends, he had six cubits of Sauda Wilayati or English
indigo-dyed calico for women's fillets, and two of Sauda Kashshi, a Cutch
imitation, a Shukkah or half Tobe for his daughter, and a sheep for
himself, together with a large bundle of tobacco.

[34] When the pastures are exhausted and the monsoon sets in, the Bedouins
return to their cool mountains; like the Iliyat of Persia, they have their
regular Kishlakh and Yaylakh.

[35] "Kaum" is the Arabic, "All" the Somali, term for these raids.

[36] Amongst the old Egyptians the ostrich feather was the symbol of
truth. The Somal call it "Bal," the Arabs "Rish;" it is universally used
here as the sign and symbol of victory. Generally the white feather only
is stuck in the hair; the Eesa are not particular in using black when they
can procure no other. All the clans wear it in the back hair, but each has
its own rules; some make it a standard decoration, others discard it after
the first few days. The learned have an aversion to the custom,
stigmatising it as pagan and idolatrous; the vulgar look upon it as the
highest mark of honor.

[37] This is an ancient practice in Asia as well as in Africa. The
Egyptian temples show heaps of trophies placed before the monarchs as eyes
or heads were presented in Persia. Thus in 1 Sam. xviii. 25., David brings
the spoils of 200 Philistines, and shows them in full tale to the king,
that he might be the king's son-in-law. Any work upon the subject of
Abyssinia (Bruce, book 7. chap, 8.), or the late Afghan war, will prove
that the custom of mutilation, opposed as it is both to Christianity and
El Islam, is still practised in the case of hated enemies and infidels;
and De Bey remarks of the Cape Kafirs, "victores caesis excidunt [Greek:
_tu aidoui_], quae exsiccata regi afferunt."

[38] When attacking cattle, the plundering party endeavour with shoots and
noise to disperse the herds, whilst the assailants huddle them together,
and attempt to face the danger in parties.

[39] For the cheapest I paid twenty-three, for the dearest twenty-six
dollars, besides a Riyal upon each, under the names of custom dues and
carriage. The Hajj had doubtless exaggerated the price, but all were good
animals, and the traveller has no right to complain, except when he pays
dear for a bad article.



Before leaving Zayla, I must not neglect a short description of its
inhabitants, and the remarkable Somal races around it.

Eastern Africa, like Arabia, presents a population composed of three
markedly distinct races.

1. The Aborigines or Hamites, such as the Negro Sawahili, the Bushmen,
Hottentots, and other races, having such physiological peculiarities as
the steatopyge, the tablier, and other developments described, in 1815, by
the great Cuvier.

2. The almost pure Caucasian of the northern regions, west of Egypt: their
immigration comes within the range of comparatively modern history.

3. The half-castes in Eastern Africa are represented principally by the
Abyssinians, Gallas, Somals, and Kafirs. The first-named people derive
their descent from Menelek, son of Solomon by the Queen of Sheba: it is
evident from their features and figures,--too well known to require
description,--that they are descended from Semitic as well as Hamitic
progenitors. [1] About the origin of the Gallas there is a diversity of
opinion. [2] Some declare them to be Meccan Arabs, who settled on the
western coast of the Red Sea at a remote epoch: according to the
Abyssinians, however, and there is little to find fault with in their
theory, the Gallas are descended from a princess of their nation, who was
given in marriage to a slave from the country south of Gurague. She bare
seven sons, who became mighty robbers and founders of tribes: their
progenitors obtained the name of Gallas, after the river Gala, in Gurague,
where they gained a decisive victory our their kinsmen the Abyssins. [3] A
variety of ethnologic and physiological reasons,--into which space and
subject prevent my entering,--argue the Kafirs of the Cape to be a
northern people, pushed southwards by some, to us, as yet, unknown cause.
The origin of the Somal is a matter of modern history.

"Barbarah" (Berberah) [4], according to the Kamus, is "a well known town
in El Maghrib, and a race located between El Zanj--Zanzibar and the
Negrotic coast--and El Habash [5]: they are descended from the Himyar
chiefs Sanhaj ([Arabic]) and Sumamah ([Arabic]), and they arrived at the
epoch of the conquest of Africa by the king Afrikus (Scipio Africanus?)."
A few details upon the subject of mutilation and excision prove these to
have been the progenitors of the Somal [6], who are nothing but a slice of
the great Galla nation Islamised and Semiticised by repeated immigrations
from Arabia. In the Kamus we also read that Samal ([Arabic]) is the name
of the father of a tribe, so called because he _thrust out_ ([Arabic],
_samala_) his brother's eye. [7] The Shaykh Jami, a celebrated
genealogist, informed me that in A.H. 666 = A.D. 1266-7, the Sayyid Yusuf
el Baghdadi visited the port of Siyaro near Berberah, then occupied by an
infidel magician, who passed through mountains by the power of his
gramarye: the saint summoned to his aid Mohammed bin Tunis el Siddiki, of
Bayt el Fakih in Arabia, and by their united prayers a hill closed upon
the pagan. Deformed by fable, the foundation of the tale is fact: the
numerous descendants of the holy men still pay an annual fine, by way of
blood-money to the family of the infidel chief. The last and most
important Arab immigration took place about fifteen generations or 450
years ago, when the Sherif Ishak bin Ahmed [8] left his native country
Hazramaut, and, with forty-four saints, before mentioned, landed on
Makhar,--the windward coast extending from Karam Harbour to Cape
Guardafui. At the town of Met, near Burnt Island, where his tomb still
exists, he became the father of all the gentle blood and the only certain
descent in the Somali country: by Magaden, a free woman, he had Gerhajis,
Awal, and Arab; and by a slave or slaves, Jailah, Sambur, and Rambad.
Hence the great clans, Habr Gerhajis and Awal, who prefer the matronymic--
Habr signifying a mother,--since, according to their dictum, no man knows
who may be his sire. [9] These increased and multiplied by connection and
affiliation to such an extent that about 300 years ago they drove their
progenitors, the Galla, from Berberah, and gradually encroached upon them,
till they intrenched themselves in the Highlands of Harar.

The old and pagan genealogies still known to the Somal, are Dirr, Aydur,
Darud, and, according to some, Hawiyah. Dirr and Aydur, of whom nothing is
certainly known but the name [10], are the progenitors of the northern
Somal, the Eesa, Gudabirsi, Ishak, and Bursuk tribes. Darud Jabarti [11]
bin Ismail bin Akil (or Ukayl) is supposed by his descendants to have been
a noble Arab from El Hejaz, who, obliged to flee his country, was wrecked
on the north-east coast of Africa, where he married a daughter of the
Hawiyah tribe: rival races declare him to have been a Galla slave, who,
stealing the Prophet's slippers [12], was dismissed with the words, Inna-
_tarad_-na-hu (verily we have rejected him): hence his name Tarud
([Arabic]) or Darud, the Rejected. [13] The etymological part of the story
is, doubtless, fabulous; it expresses, however, the popular belief that
the founder of the eastward or windward tribes, now extending over the
seaboard from Bunder Jedid to Ras Hafun, and southward from the sea to the
Webbes [14], was a man of ignoble origin. The children of Darud are now
divided into two great bodies: "Harti" is the family name of the
Dulbahanta, Ogadayn, Warsangali and Mijjarthayn, who call themselves sons
of Harti bin Kombo bin Kabl Ullah bin Darud: the other Darud tribes not
included under that appellation are the Girhi, Berteri, Marayhan, and
Bahabr Ali. The Hawiyah are doubtless of ancient and pagan origin; they
call all Somal except themselves Hashiyah, and thus claim to be equivalent
to the rest of the nation. Some attempt, as usual, to establish a holy
origin, deriving themselves like the Shaykhash from the Caliph Abubekr:
the antiquity, and consequently the Pagan origin of the Hawiyah are proved
by its present widely scattered state; it is a powerful tribe in the
Mijjarthayn country, and yet is found in the hills of Harar.

The Somal, therefore, by their own traditions, as well as their strongly
marked physical peculiarities, their customs, and their geographical
position, may be determined to be a half-caste tribe, an offshoot of the
great Galla race, approximated, like the originally Negro-Egyptian, to the
Caucasian type by a steady influx of pure Asiatic blood.

In personal appearance the race is not unprepossessing. The crinal hair is
hard and wiry, growing, like that of a half-caste West Indian, in stiff
ringlets which sprout in tufts from the scalp, and, attaining a moderate
length, which they rarely surpass, bang down. A few elders, savans, and
the wealthy, who can afford the luxury of a turban, shave the head. More
generally, each filament is duly picked out with the comb or a wooden
scratcher like a knitting-needle, and the mass made to resemble a child's
"pudding," an old bob-wig, a mop, a counsellor's peruke, or an old-
fashioned coachman's wig,--there are a hundred ways of dressing the head.
The Bedouins, true specimens of the "greasy African race," wear locks
dripping with rancid butter, and accuse their citizen brethren of being
more like birds than men. The colouring matter of the hair, naturally a
bluish-black, is removed by a mixture of quicklime and water, or in the
desert by a _lessive_ of ashes [15]: this makes it a dull yellowish-white,
which is converted into red permanently by henna, temporarily by ochreish
earth kneaded with water. The ridiculous Somali peruke of crimsoned
sheepskin,--almost as barbarous an article as the Welsh,--is apparently a
foreign invention: I rarely saw one in the low country, although the hill
tribes about Harar sometimes wear a black or white "scratch-wig." The head
is rather long than round, and generally of the amiable variety, it is
gracefully put on the shoulders, belongs equally to Africa and Arabia, and
would be exceedingly weak but for the beauty of the brow. As far as the
mouth, the face, with the exception of high cheek-bones, is good; the
contour of the forehead ennobles it; the eyes are large and well-formed,
and the upper features are frequently handsome and expressive. The jaw,
however, is almost invariably prognathous and African; the broad, turned-
out lips betray approximation to the Negro; and the chin projects to the
detriment of the facial angle. The beard is represented by a few tufts; it
is rare to see anything equal to even the Arab development: the long and
ample eyebrows admired by the people are uncommon, and the mustachios are
short and thin, often twisted outwards in two dwarf curls. The mouth is
coarse as well as thick-lipped; the teeth rarely project as in the Negro,
but they are not good; the habit of perpetually chewing coarse Surat
tobacco stains them [16], the gums become black and mottled, and the use
of ashes with the quid discolours the lips. The skin, amongst the tribes
inhabiting the hot regions, is smooth, black, and glossy; as the altitude
increases it becomes lighter, and about Harar it is generally of a _cafe
au lait_ colour. The Bedouins are fond of raising beauty marks in the
shape of ghastly seams, and the thickness of the epidermis favours the
size of these _stigmates_. The male figure is tall and somewhat ungainly.
In only one instance I observed an approach to the steatopyge, making the
shape to resemble the letter S; but the shoulders are high, the trunk is
straight, the thighs fall off, the shin bones bow slightly forwards, and
the feet, like the hands, are coarse, large, and flat. Yet with their
hair, of a light straw colour, decked with the light waving feather, and
their coal-black complexions set off by that most graceful of garments the
clean white Tobe [17], the contrasts are decidedly effective.

In mind the Somal are peculiar as in body. They are a people of most
susceptible character, and withal uncommonly hard to please. They dislike
the Arabs, fear and abhor the Turks, have a horror of Franks, and despise
all other Asiatics who with them come under the general name of Hindi
(Indians). The latter are abused on all occasions for cowardice, and a
want of generosity, which has given rise to the following piquant epigram:

"Ask not from the Hindi thy want:
Impossible that the Hindi can be generous!
Had there been one liberal man in El Hind,
Allah had raised up a prophet in El Hind!"

They have all the levity and instability of the Negro character; light-
minded as the Abyssinians,--described by Gobat as constant in nothing but
inconstancy,--soft, merry, and affectionate souls, they pass without any
apparent transition into a state of fury, when they are capable of
terrible atrocities. At Aden they appear happier than in their native
country. There I have often seen a man clapping his hands and dancing,
childlike, alone to relieve the exuberance of his spirits: here they
become, as the Mongols and other pastoral people, a melancholy race, who
will sit for hours upon a bank gazing at the moon, or croning some old
ditty under the trees. This state is doubtless increased by the perpetual
presence of danger and the uncertainty of life, which make them think of
other things but dancing and singing. Much learning seems to make them
mad; like the half-crazy Fakihs of the Sahara in Northern Africa, the
Widad, or priest, is generally unfitted for the affairs of this world, and
the Hafiz or Koran-reciter, is almost idiotic. As regards courage, they
are no exception to the generality of savage races. They have none of the
recklessness standing in lieu of creed which characterises the civilised
man. In their great battles a score is considered a heavy loss; usually
they will run after the fall of half a dozen: amongst a Kraal full of
braves who boast a hundred murders, not a single maimed or wounded man
will be seen, whereas in an Arabian camp half the male population will
bear the marks of lead and steel. The bravest will shirk fighting if he
has forgotten his shield: the sight of a lion and the sound of a gun
elicit screams of terror, and their Kaum or forays much resemble the style
of tactics rendered obsolete by the Great Turenne, when the tactician's
chief aim was not to fall in with his enemy. Yet they are by no means
deficient in the wily valour of wild men: two or three will murder a
sleeper bravely enough; and when the passions of rival tribes, between
whom there has been a blood feud for ages, are violently excited, they
will use with asperity the dagger and spear. Their massacres are fearful.
In February, 1847, a small sept, the Ayyal Tunis, being expelled from
Berberah, settled at the roadstead of Bulhar, where a few merchants,
principally Indian and Arab, joined them. The men were in the habit of
leaving their women and children, sick and aged, at the encampment inland,
whilst, descending to the beach, they carried on their trade. One day, as
they were thus employed, unsuspicious of danger, a foraging party of about
2500 Eesas attacked the camp: men, women, and children were
indiscriminately put to the spear, and the plunderers returned to their
villages in safety, laden with an immense amount of booty. At present, a
man armed with a revolver would be a terror to the country; the day,
however, will come when the matchlock will supersede the assegai, and then
the harmless spearman in his strong mountains will become, like the Arab,
a formidable foe. Travelling among the Bedouins, I found them kind and
hospitable. A pinch of snuff or a handful of tobacco sufficed to win every
heart, and a few yards of coarse cotton cloth supplied all our wants, I
was petted like a child, forced to drink milk and to eat mutton; girls
were offered to me in marriage; the people begged me to settle amongst
them, to head their predatory expeditions, free them from lions, and kill
their elephants; and often a man has exclaimed in pitying accents, "What
hath brought thee, delicate as thou art, to sit with us on the cowhide in
this cold under a tree?" Of course they were beggars, princes and paupers,
lairds and loons, being all equally unfortunate; the Arabs have named the
country Bilad Wa Issi,--the "Land of Give me Something;"--but their wants
were easily satisfied, and the open hand always made a friend.

The Somal hold mainly to the Shafei school of El Islam: their principal
peculiarity is that of not reciting prayers over the dead even in the
towns. The marriage ceremony is simple: the price of the bride and the
feast being duly arranged, the formula is recited by some priest or
pilgrim. I have often been requested to officiate on these occasions, and
the End of Time has done it by irreverently reciting the Fatihah over the
happy pair. [18] The Somal, as usual amongst the heterogeneous mass
amalgamated by El Islam, have a diversity of superstitions attesting their
Pagan origin. Such for instance are their oaths by stones, their reverence
of cairns and holy trees, and their ordeals of fire and water, the Bolungo
of Western Africa. A man accused of murder or theft walks down a trench
full of live charcoal and about a spear's length, or he draws out of the
flames a smith's anvil heated to redness: some prefer picking four or five
cowries from a large pot full of boiling water. The member used is at once
rolled up in the intestines of a sheep and not inspected for a whole day.
They have traditionary seers called Tawuli, like the Greegree-men of
Western Africa, who, by inspecting the fat and bones of slaughtered
cattle, "do medicine," predict rains, battles, and diseases of animals.
This class is of both sexes: they never pray or bathe, and are therefore
considered always impure; thus, being feared, they are greatly respected
by the vulgar. Their predictions are delivered in a rude rhyme, often put
for importance into the mouth of some deceased seer. During the three
months called Rajalo [19] the Koran is not read over graves, and no
marriage ever takes place. The reason of this peculiarity is stated to be
imitation of their ancestor Ishak, who happened not to contract a
matrimonial alliance at such epoch: it is, however, a manifest remnant of
the Pagan's auspicious and inauspicious months. Thus they sacrifice she-
camels in the month Sabuh, and keep holy with feasts and bonfires the
Dubshid or New Year's Day. [20] At certain unlucky periods when the moon
is in ill-omened Asterisms those who die are placed in bundles of matting
upon a tree, the idea being that if buried a loss would result to the
tribe. [21]

Though superstitious, the Somal are not bigoted like the Arabs, with the
exception of those who, wishing to become learned, visit Yemen or El
Hejaz, and catch the complaint. Nominal Mohammedans, El Islam hangs so
lightly upon them, that apparently they care little for making it binding
upon others.

The Somali language is no longer unknown to Europe. It is strange that a
dialect which has no written character should so abound in poetry and
eloquence. There are thousands of songs, some local, others general, upon
all conceivable subjects, such as camel loading, drawing water, and
elephant hunting; every man of education knows a variety of them. The
rhyme is imperfect, being generally formed by the syllable "ay"
(pronounced as in our word "hay"), which gives the verse a monotonous
regularity; but, assisted by a tolerably regular alliteration and cadence,
it can never be mistaken for prose, even without the song which invariably
accompanies it. The country teems with "poets, poetasters, poetitos, and
poetaccios:" every man has his recognised position in literature as
accurately defined as though he had been reviewed in a century of
magazines,--the fine ear of this people [22] causing them to take the
greatest pleasure in harmonious sounds and poetical expressions, whereas a
false quantity or a prosaic phrase excite their violent indignation. Many
of these compositions are so idiomatic that Arabs settled for years
amongst the Somal cannot understand them, though perfectly acquainted with
the conversational style. Every chief in the country must have a panegyric
to be sung by his clan, and the great patronise light literature by
keeping a poet. The amatory is of course the favourite theme: sometimes it
appears in dialogue, the rudest form, we are told, of the Drama. The
subjects are frequently pastoral: the lover for instance invites his
mistress to walk with him towards the well in Lahelo, the Arcadia of the
land; he compares her legs to the tall straight Libi tree, and imprecates
the direst curses on her head if she refuse to drink with him the milk of
his favourite camel. There are a few celebrated ethical compositions, in
which the father lavishes upon his son all the treasures of Somali good
advice, long as the somniferous sermons of Mentor to the insipid son of
Ulysses. Sometimes a black Tyrtaeus breaks into a wild lament for the loss
of warriors or territory; he taunts the clan with cowardice, reminds them
of their slain kindred, better men than themselves, whose spirits cannot
rest unavenged in their gory graves, and urges a furious onslaught upon
the exulting victor.

And now, dear L., I will attempt to gratify your just curiosity concerning
_the_ sex in Eastern Africa.

The Somali matron is distinguished--externally--from the maiden by a
fillet of blue network or indigo-dyed cotton, which, covering the head and
containing the hair, hangs down to the neck. Virgins wear their locks
long, parted in the middle, and plaited in a multitude of hard thin
pigtails: on certain festivals they twine flowers and plaster the head
like Kafir women with a red ochre,--the _coiffure_ has the merit of
originality. With massive rounded features, large flat craniums, long big
eyes, broad brows, heavy chins, rich brown complexions, and round faces,
they greatly resemble the stony beauties of Egypt--the models of the land
ere Persia, Greece, and Rome reformed the profile and bleached the skin.
They are of the Venus Kallipyga order of beauty: the feature is scarcely
ever seen amongst young girls, but after the first child it becomes
remarkable to a stranger. The Arabs have not failed to make it a matter of

"'Tis a wonderful fact that your hips swell
Like boiled rice or a skin blown out,"

sings a satirical Yemeni: the Somal retort by comparing the lank haunches
of their neighbours to those of tadpoles or young frogs. One of their
peculiar charms is a soft, low, and plaintive voice, derived from their
African progenitors. Always an excellent thing in woman, here it has an
undefinable charm. I have often lain awake for hours listening to the
conversation of the Bedouin girls, whose accents sounded in my ears rather
like music than mere utterance.

In muscular strength and endurance the women of the Somal are far superior
to their lords: at home they are engaged all day in domestic affairs, and
tending the cattle; on journeys their manifold duties are to load and
drive the camels, to look after the ropes, and, if necessary, to make
them; to pitch the hut, to bring water and firewood, and to cook. Both
sexes are equally temperate from necessity; the mead and the millet-beer,
so common among the Abyssinians and the Danakil, are entirely unknown to
the Somal of the plains. As regards their morals, I regret to say that the
traveller does not find them in the golden state which Teetotal doctrines
lead him to expect. After much wandering, we are almost tempted to believe
the bad doctrine that morality is a matter of geography; that nations and
races have, like individuals, a pet vice, and that by restraining one you
only exasperate another. As a general rule Somali women prefer
_amourettes_ with strangers, following the well-known Arab proverb, "The
new comer filleth the eye." In cases of scandal, the woman's tribe
revenges its honour upon the man. Should a wife disappear with a fellow-
clansman, and her husband accord divorce, no penal measures are taken, but
she suffers in reputation, and her female friends do not spare her.
Generally, the Somali women are of cold temperament, the result of
artificial as well as natural causes: like the Kafirs, they are very
prolific, but peculiarly bad mothers, neither loved nor respected by their
children. The fair sex lasts longer in Eastern Africa than in India and
Arabia: at thirty, however, charms are on the wane, and when old age comes
on they are no exceptions to the hideous decrepitude of the East.

The Somal, when they can afford it, marry between the ages of fifteen and
twenty. Connections between tribes are common, and entitle the stranger to
immunity from the blood-feud: men of family refuse, however, to ally
themselves with the servile castes. Contrary to the Arab custom, none of
these people will marry cousins; at the same time a man will give his
daughter to his uncle, and take to wife, like the Jews and Gallas, a
brother's relict. Some clans, the Habr Yunis for instance, refuse maidens
of the same or even of a consanguineous family. This is probably a
political device to preserve nationality and provide against a common
enemy. The bride, as usual in the East, is rarely consulted, but frequent
_tete a tetes_ at the well and in the bush when tending cattle effectually
obviate this inconvenience: her relatives settle the marriage portion,
which varies from a cloth and a bead necklace to fifty sheep or thirty
dollars, and dowries are unknown. In the towns marriage ceremonies are
celebrated with feasting and music. On first entering the nuptial hut, the
bridegroom draws forth his horsewhip and inflicts memorable chastisement
upon the fair person of his bride, with the view of taming any lurking
propensity to shrewishness. [23] This is carrying out with a will the Arab

"The slave girl from her capture, the wife from her wedding."

During the space of a week the spouse remains with his espoused, scarcely
ever venturing out of the hut; his friends avoid him, and no lesser event
than a plundering party or dollars to gain, would justify any intrusion.
If the correctness of the wife be doubted, the husband on the morning
after marriage digs a hole before his door and veils it with matting, or
he rends the skirt of his Tobe, or he tears open some new hut-covering:
this disgraces the woman's family. Polygamy is indispensable in a country
where children are the principal wealth. [24] The chiefs, arrived at
manhood, immediately marry four wives: they divorce the old and
unfruitful, and, as amongst the Kafirs, allow themselves an unlimited
number in peculiar cases, especially when many of the sons have fallen.
Daughters, as usual in Oriental countries, do not "count" as part of the
family: they are, however, utilised by the father, who disposes of them to
those who can increase his wealth and importance. Divorce is exceedingly
common, for the men are liable to sudden fits of disgust. There is little
ceremony in contracting marriage with any but maidens. I have heard a man
propose after half an hour's acquaintance, and the fair one's reply was
generally the question direct concerning "settlements." Old men frequently
marry young girls, but then the portion is high and the _menage a trois_

The Somal know none of the exaggerated and chivalrous ideas by which
passion becomes refined affection amongst the Arab Bedouins and the sons
of civilisation, nor did I ever hear of an African abandoning the spear
and the sex to become a Darwaysh. Their "Hudhudu," however, reminds the
traveller of the Abyssinian "eye-love," the Afghan's "Namzad-bazi," and
the Semite's "Ishkuzri," which for want of a better expression we
translate "Platonic love." [25] This meeting of the sexes, however, is
allowed in Africa by male relatives; in Arabia and Central Asia it
provokes their direst indignation. Curious to say, throughout the Somali
country, kissing is entirely unknown.

Children are carried on their mothers' backs or laid sprawling upon the
ground for the first two years [26]: they are circumcised at the age of
seven or eight, provided with a small spear, and allowed to run about
naked till the age of puberty. They learn by conversation, not books, eat
as much as they can beg, borrow and steal, and grow up healthy, strong,
and well proportioned according to their race.

As in El Islam generally, so here, a man cannot make a will. The property
of the deceased is divided amongst his children,--the daughters receiving
a small portion, if any of it. When a man dies without issue, his goods
and chattels are seized upon by his nearest male relatives; one of them
generally marries the widow, or she is sent back to her family. Relicts,
as a rule, receive no legacies.

You will have remarked, dear L., that the people of Zayla are by no means
industrious. They depend for support upon the Desert: the Bedouin becomes
the Nazil or guest of the townsman, and he is bound to receive a little
tobacco, a few beads, a bit of coarse cotton cloth, or, on great
occasions, a penny looking-glass and a cheap German razor, in return for
his slaves, ivories, hides, gums, milk, and grain. Any violation of the
tie is severely punished by the Governor, and it can be dissolved only by
the formula of triple divorce: of course the wild men are hopelessly
cheated [27], and their citizen brethren live in plenty and indolence.
After the early breakfast, the male portion of the community leave their
houses on business, that is to say, to chat, visit, and _flaner_ about the
streets and mosques. [28] They return to dinner and the siesta, after
which they issue forth again, and do not come home till night. Friday is
always an idle day, festivals are frequent, and there is no work during
weddings and mournings. The women begin after dawn to plait mats and
superintend the slaves, who are sprinkling the house with water, grinding
grain for breakfast, cooking, and breaking up firewood: to judge, however,
from the amount of chatting and laughter, there appears to be far less
work than play.

In these small places it is easy to observe the mechanism of a government
which, _en grand_, becomes that of Delhi, Teheran, and Constantinople. The
Governor farms the place from the Porte: he may do what he pleases as long
as he pays his rent with punctuality and provides presents and _douceurs_
for the Pasha of Mocha. He punishes the petty offences of theft, quarrels,
and arson by fines, the bastinado, the stocks, or confinement in an Arish
or thatch-hut: the latter is a severe penalty, as the prisoner must
provide himself with food. In cases of murder, he either refers to Mocha
or he carries out the Kisas--lex talionis--by delivering the slayer to the
relatives of the slain. The Kazi has the administration of the Shariat or
religious law: he cannot, however, pronounce sentence without the
Governor's permission; and generally his powers are confined to questions
of divorce, alimony, manumission, the wound-mulct, and similar cases which
come within Koranic jurisdiction. Thus the religious code is ancillary and
often opposed to "El Jabr,"--"the tyranny,"--the popular designation of
what we call Civil Law. [29] Yet is El Jabr, despite its name, generally
preferred by the worldly wise. The Governor contents himself with a
moderate bribe, the Kazi is insatiable: the former may possibly allow you
to escape unplundered, the latter assuredly will not. This I believe to be
the history of religious jurisdiction in most parts of the world.


[1] Eusebius declares that the Abyssinians migrated from Asia to Africa
whilst the Hebrews were in Egypt (circ. A. M. 2345); and Syncellus places
the event about the age of the Judges.

[2] Moslems, ever fond of philological fable, thus derive the word Galla.
When Ullabu, the chief, was summoned by Mohammed to Islamise, the
messenger returned to report that "he said _no_,"--Kal la pronounced Gal
la,--which impious refusal, said the Prophet, should from that time become
the name of the race.

[3] Others have derived them from Metcha, Karaiyo, and Tulema, three sons
of an AEthiopian Emperor by a female slave. They have, according to some
travellers, a prophecy that one day they will march to the east and north,
and conquer the inheritance of their Jewish ancestors. Mr. Johnston
asserts that the word Galla is "merely another form of _Calla_, which in
the ancient Persian, Sanscrit, Celtic, and their modern derivative
languages, under modified, but not changed terms, is expressive of
blackness." The Gallas, however, are not a black people.

[4] The Aden stone has been supposed to name the "Berbers," who must have
been Gallas from the vicinity of Berberah. A certain amount of doubt still
hangs on the interpretation: the Rev. Mr. Forster and Dr. Bird being the
principal contrasts.

_Rev. Mr. Forster._ _Dr. Bird_

"We assailed with cries of "He, the Syrian philosopher
hatred and rage the Abyssinians in Abadan, Bishop of
and Berbers. Cape Aden, who inscribed this
in the desert, blesses the
"We rode forth wrathfully institution of the faith."
against this refuse of mankind."

[5] This word is generally translated Abyssinia; oriental geographers,
however, use it in a more extended sense. The Turks have held possessions
in "Habash," in Abyssinia never.

[6] The same words are repeated in the Infak el Maysur fl Tarikh bilad el
Takrur (Appendix to Denham and Clapperton's Travels, No. xii.), again
confounding the Berbers and the Somal. Afrikus, according to that author,
was a king of Yemen who expelled the Berbers from Syria!

[7] The learned Somal invariably spell their national name with an initial
Sin, and disregard the derivation from Saumal ([Arabic]), which would
allude to the hardihood of the wild people. An intelligent modern
traveller derives "Somali" from the Abyssinian "Soumahe" or heathens, and
asserts that it corresponds with the Arabic word Kafir or unbeliever, the
name by which Edrisi, the Arabian geographer, knew and described the
inhabitants of the Affah (Afar) coast, to the east of the Straits of Bab
el Mandeb. Such derivation is, however, unadvisable.

[8] According to others he was the son of Abdullah. The written
genealogies of the Somal were, it is said, stolen by the Sherifs of Yemen,
who feared to leave with the wild people documents that prove the nobility
of their descent.

[9] The salient doubt suggested by this genealogy is the barbarous nature
of the names. A noble Arab would not call his children Gerhajis, Awal, and

[10] Lieut. Cruttenden applies the term Edoor (Aydur) to the descendants
of Ishak, the children of Gerhajis, Awal, and Jailah. His informants and
mine differ, therefore, _toto coelo_. According to some, Dirr was the
father of Aydur; others make Dirr (it has been written Tir and Durr) to
have been the name of the Galla family into which Shaykh Ishak married.

[11] Some travellers make Jabarti or Ghiberti to signify "slaves" from the
Abyssinian Guebra; others "Strong in the Faith" (El Islam). Bruce applies
it to the Moslems of Abyssinia: it is still used, though rarely, by the
Somal, who in these times generally designate by it the Sawahili or Negro

[12] The same scandalous story is told of the venerable patron saint of
Aden, the Sherif Haydrus.

[13] Darud bin Ismail's tomb is near the Yubbay Tug in the windward
mountains; an account of it will be found in Lieut. Speke's diary.

[14] The two rivers Shebayli and Juba.

[15] Curious to any this mixture does not destroy the hair; it would soon
render a European bald. Some of the Somal have applied it to their beards;
the result has been the breaking and falling off of the filaments.

[16] Few Somal except the citizens smoke, on account of the expense, all,
however, use the Takhzinah or quid.

[17] The best description of the dress is that of Fenelon: "Leurs habits
sont aises a faire, car en ce doux climat on ne porte qu'une piece
d'etoffe fine et legere, qui n'est point taillee, et que chacun met a
longs plis autour de son corps pour la modestie; lui donnant la forme
qu'il veut."

[18] Equivalent to reading out the Church Catechism at an English wedding.

[19] Certain months of the lunar year. In 1854, the third Rajalo,
corresponding with Rabia the Second, began on the 21st of December.

[20] The word literally means, "lighting of fire." It corresponds with the
Nayruz of Yemen, a palpable derivation, as the word itself proves, from
the old Guebre conquerors. In Arabia New Year's Day is called Ras el
Sanah, and is not celebrated by any peculiar solemnities. The ancient
religion of the Afar coast was Sabaeism, probably derived from the Berbers
or shepherds,--according to Bruce the first faith of the East, and the
only religion of Eastern Africa. The Somal still retain a tradition that
the "Furs," or ancient Guebres, once ruled the land.

[21] Their names also are generally derived from their Pagan ancestors: a
list of the most common may be interesting to ethnologists. Men are called
Rirash, Igah, Beuh, Fahi, Samattar, Farih, Madar, Raghe, Dubayr, Irik,
Diddar, Awalah, and Alyan. Women's names are Aybla, Ayyo, Aurala, Ambar,
Zahabo, Ashkaro, Alka, Asoba, Gelo, Gobe, Mayran and Samaweda.

[22] It is proved by the facility with which they pick up languages,
Western us well as Eastern, by mere ear and memory.

[23] So the old Muscovites, we are told, always began married life with a
sound flogging.

[24] I would not advise polygamy amongst highly civilised races, where the
sexes are nearly equal, and where reproduction becomes a minor duty.
Monogamy is the growth of civilisation: a plurality of wives is the
natural condition of man in thinly populated countries, where he who has
the largest family is the greatest benefactor of his kind.

[25] The old French term "la petite oie" explains it better. Some trace of
the custom may be found in the Kafir's Slambuka or Schlabonka, for a
description of which I must refer to the traveller Delegorgue.

[26] The Somal ignore the Kafir custom during lactation.

[27] The citizens have learned the Asiatic art of bargaining under a
cloth. Both parties sit opposite each other, holding hands: if the little
finger for instance be clasped, it means 6, 60, or 600 dollars, according
to the value of the article for sale; if the ring finger, 7, 70, or 700,
and so on.

[28] So, according to M. Krapf, the Suaheli of Eastern Africa wastes his
morning hours in running from house to house, to his friends or superiors,
_ku amkia_ (as he calls it), to make his morning salutations. A worse than
Asiatic idleness is the curse of this part of the world.

[29] Diwan el Jabr, for instance, is a civil court, opposed to the
Mahkamah or the Kazi's tribunal.



Two routes connect Zayla with Harar; the south-western or direct line
numbers ten long or twenty short stages [1]: the first eight through the
Eesa country, and the last two among the Nole Gallas, who own the rule of
"Waday," a Makad or chief of Christian persuasion. The Hajj objected to
this way, on account of his recent blood-feud with the Rer Guleni. He
preferred for me the more winding road which passes south, along the
coast, through the Eesa Bedouins dependent upon Zayla, to the nearest
hills, and thence strikes south-westwards among the Gudabirsi and Girhi
Somal, who extend within sight of Harar. I cannot but suspect that in
selecting this route the good Sharmarkay served another purpose besides my
safety. Petty feuds between the chiefs had long "closed the path," and
perhaps the Somal were not unwilling that British cloth and tobacco should
re-open it.

Early in the morning of the 27th of November, 1854, the mules and all the
paraphernalia of travel stood ready at the door. The five camels were
forced to kneel, growling angrily the while, by repeated jerks at the
halter: their forelegs were duly tied or stood upon till they had shifted
themselves into a comfortable position, and their noses were held down by
the bystanders whenever, grasshopper-like, they attempted to spring up.
Whilst spreading the saddle-mats, our women, to charm away remembrance of
chafed hump and bruised sides, sang with vigor the "Song of Travel":

"0 caravan-men, we deceive ye not, we have laden the camels!
Old women on the journey are kenned by their sleeping I
(0 camel) can'st sniff the cock-boat and the sea?
Allah guard thee from the Mikahil and their Midgans!" [2]

As they arose from squat it was always necessary to adjust their little
mountains of small packages by violently "heaving up" one side,--an
operation never failing to elicit a vicious grunt, a curve of the neck,
and an attempt to bite. One camel was especially savage; it is said that
on his return to Zayla, he broke a Bedouin girl's neck. Another, a
diminutive but hardy little brute of Dankali breed, conducted himself so
uproariously that he at once obtained the name of El Harami, or the

About 3 P.M., accompanied by the Hajj, his amiable son Mohammed, and a
party of Arab matchlockmen, who escorted me as a token of especial
respect, I issued from the Ashurbara Gate, through the usual staring
crowds, and took the way of the wilderness. After half a mile's march, we
exchanged affectionate adieus, received much prudent advice about keeping
watch and ward at night, recited the Fatihah with upraised palms, and with
many promises to write frequently and to meet soon, shook hands and
parted. The soldiers gave me a last volley, to which I replied with the
"Father of Six."

You see, dear L., how travelling maketh man _banal_. It is the natural
consequence of being forced to find, in every corner where Fate drops you
for a month, a "friend of the soul," and a "moon-faced beauty." With
Orientals generally, you _must_ be on extreme terms, as in Hibernia,
either an angel of light or, that failing, a goblin damned. In East Africa
especially, English phlegm, shyness, or pride, will bar every heart and
raise every hand against you [3], whereas what M. Rochet calls "a certain
_rondeur_ of manner" is a specific for winning affection. You should walk
up to your man, clasp his fist, pat his back, speak some unintelligible
words to him,--if, as is the plan of prudence, you ignore the language,--
laugh a loud guffaw, sit by his side, and begin pipes and coffee. He then
proceeds to utilise you, to beg in one country for your interest, and in
another for your tobacco. You gently but decidedly thrust that subject out
of the way, and choose what is most interesting to yourself. As might be
expected, he will at times revert to his own concerns; your superior
obstinacy will oppose effectual passive resistance to all such efforts; by
degrees the episodes diminish in frequency and duration; at last they
cease altogether. The man is now your own.

You will bear in mind, if you please, that I am a Moslem merchant, a
character not to be confounded with the notable individuals seen on
'Change. Mercator in the East is a compound of tradesman, divine, and T.
G. Usually of gentle birth, he is everywhere welcomed and respected; and
he bears in his mind and manner that, if Allah please, he may become prime
minister a month after he has sold you a yard of cloth. Commerce appears
to be an accident, not an essential, with him; yet he is by no means
deficient in acumen. He is a grave and reverend signior, with rosary in
hand and Koran on lip, is generally a pilgrim, talks at dreary length
about Holy Places, writes a pretty hand, has read and can recite much
poetry, is master of his religion, demeans himself with respectability, is
perfect in all points of ceremony and politeness, and feels equally at
home whether sultan or slave sit upon his counter. He has a wife and
children in his own country, where he intends to spend the remnant of his
days; but "the world is uncertain"--"Fate descends, and man's eye seeth it
not"--"the earth is a charnel house"; briefly, his many wise old saws give
him a kind of theoretical consciousness that his bones may moulder in
other places but his father-land.

To describe my little caravan. Foremost struts Raghe, our Eesa guide, in
all the bravery of Abbanship. He is bareheaded and clothed in Tobe and
slippers: a long, heavy, horn-hilted dagger is strapped round his waist,
outside his dress; in his right hand he grasps a ponderous wire-bound
spear, which he uses as a staff, and the left forearm supports a round
targe of battered hide. Being a man of education, he bears on one shoulder
a Musalla or prayer carpet of tanned leather, the article used throughout
the Somali country; slung over the other is a Wesi or wicker bottle
containing water for religious ablution. He is accompanied by some men who
carry a little stock of town goods and drive a camel colt, which by the by
they manage to lose before midnight.

My other attendants must now be introduced to you, as they are to be for
the next two months companions of our journey.

First in the list are the fair Samaweda Yusuf, and Aybla Farih [4], buxom
dames about thirty years old, who presently secured the classical
nicknames of Shehrazade, and Deenarzade. They look each like three average
women rolled into one, and emphatically belong to that race for which the
article of feminine attire called, I believe, a "bussle" would be quite
superfluous. Wonderful, truly, is their endurance of fatigue! During the
march they carry pipe and tobacco, lead and flog the camels, adjust the
burdens, and will never be induced to ride, in sickness or in health. At
the halt they unload the cattle, dispose the parcels in a semicircle,
pitch over them the Gurgi or mat tent, cook our food, boil tea and coffee,
and make themselves generally useful. They bivouack outside our abode,
modesty not permitting the sexes to mingle, and in the severest cold wear
no clothing but a head fillet and an old Tobe. They have curious soft
voices, which contrast agreeably with the harsh organs of the males. At
first they were ashamed to see me; but that feeling soon wore off, and
presently they enlivened the way with pleasantries far more naive than
refined. To relieve their greatest fatigue, nothing seems necessary but
the "Jogsi:" [5] they lie at full length, prone, stand upon each other's
backs trampling and kneading with the toes, and rise like giants much
refreshed. Always attendant upon these dames is Yusuf, a Zayla lad who,
being one-eyed, was pitilessly named by my companions the "Kalendar;" he
prays frequently, is strict in his morals, and has conceived, like Mrs.
Brownrigg, so exalted an idea of discipline, that, but for our influence,
he certainly would have beaten the two female 'prentices to death. They
hate him therefore, and he knows it.

Immediately behind Raghe and his party walk Shehrazade and Deenarzade, the
former leading the head camel, the latter using my chibouque stick as a
staff. She has been at Aden, and sorely suspects me; her little black eyes
never meet mine; and frequently, with affected confusion, she turns her
sable cheek the clean contrary way. Strung together by their tails, and
soundly beaten when disposed to lag, the five camels pace steadily along
under their burdens,--bales of Wilayati or American sheeting, Duwwarah or
Cutch canvass, with indigo-dyed stuff slung along the animals' sides, and
neatly sewn up in a case of matting to keep off dust and rain,--a cow's
hide, which serves as a couch, covering the whole. They carry a load of
"Mushakkar" (bad Mocha dates) for the Somal, with a parcel of better
quality for ourselves, and a half hundredweight of coarse Surat tobacco
[6]; besides which we have a box of beads, and another of trinkets,
mosaic-gold earrings, necklaces, watches, and similar nick-nacks. Our
private provisions are represented by about 300 lbs. of rice,--here the
traveller's staff of life,--a large pot full of "Kawurmeh" [7], dates,
salt [8], clarified butter, tea, coffee, sugar, a box of biscuits in case
of famine, "Halwa" or Arab sweetmeats to be used when driving hard
bargains, and a little turmeric for seasoning. A simple _batterie de
cuisine_, and sundry skins full of potable water [9], dangle from chance
rope-ends; and last, but not the least important, is a heavy box [10] of
ammunition sufficient for a three months' sporting tour. [11] In the rear
of the caravan trudges a Bedouin woman driving a donkey,--the proper
"tail" in these regions, where camels start if followed by a horse or
mule. An ill-fated sheep, a parting present from the Hajj, races and
frisks about the Cafilah. It became so tame that the Somal received an
order not to "cut" it; one day, however, I found myself dining, and that
pet lamb was the _menu_.

By the side of the camels ride my three attendants, the pink of Somali
fashion. Their frizzled wigs are radiant with grease; their Tobes are
splendidly white, with borders dazzlingly red; their new shields are
covered with canvass cloth; and their two spears, poised over the right
shoulder, are freshly scraped, oiled, blackened, and polished. They have
added my spare rifle, and guns to the camel-load; such weapons are well
enough at Aden, in Somali-land men would deride the outlandish tool! I
told them that in my country women use bows and arrows, moreover that
lancers are generally considered a corps of non-combatants; in vain! they
adhered as strongly--so mighty a thing is prejudice--to their partiality
for bows, arrows, and lances. Their horsemanship is peculiar, they balance
themselves upon little Abyssinian saddles, extending the leg and raising
the heel in the Louis Quinze style of equitation, and the stirrup is an
iron ring admitting only the big toe. I follow them mounting a fine white
mule, which, with its gaudily _galonne_ Arab pad and wrapper cloth, has a
certain dignity of look; a double-barrelled gun lies across my lap; and a
rude pair of holsters, the work of Hasan Turki, contains my Colt's six-

Marching in this order, which was to serve as a model, we travelled due
south along the coast, over a hard, stoneless, and alluvial plain, here
dry, there muddy (where the tide reaches), across boggy creeks, broad
water-courses, and warty flats of black mould powdered with nitrous salt,
and bristling with the salsolaceous vegetation familiar to the Arab
voyager. Such is the general formation of the plain between the mountains
and the sea, whose breadth, in a direct line, may measure from forty-five
to forty-eight miles. Near the first zone of hills, or sub-Ghauts, it
produces a thicker vegetation; thorns and acacias of different kinds
appear in clumps; and ground broken with ridges and ravines announces the
junction. After the monsoon this plain is covered with rich grass. At
other seasons it affords but a scanty supply of an "aqueous matter"
resembling bilgewater. The land belongs to the Mummasan clan of the Eesa:
how these "Kurrah-jog" or "sun-dwellers," as the Bedouins are called by
the burgher Somal, can exist here in summer, is a mystery. My arms were
peeled even in the month of December; and my companions, panting with the
heat, like the Atlantes of Herodotus, poured forth reproaches upon the
rising sun. The townspeople, when forced to hurry across it in the hotter
season, cover themselves during the day with Tobes wetted every half hour
in sea water; yet they are sometimes killed by the fatal thirst which the
Simum engenders. Even the Bedouins are now longing for rain; a few weeks'
drought destroys half their herds.

Early in the afternoon our Abban and a woman halted for a few minutes,
performed their ablutions, and prayed with a certain display: satisfied
apparently, with the result, they never repeated the exercise. About
sunset we passed, on the right, clumps of trees overgrowing a water called
"Warabod", the Hyena's Well; this is the first Marhalah or halting-place
usually made by travellers to the interior. Hence there is a direct path
leading south-south-west, by six short marches, to the hills. Our Abban,
however, was determined that we should not so easily escape his kraal.
Half an hour afterwards we passed by the second station, "Hangagarri", a
well near the sea: frequent lights twinkling through the darkening air
informed us that we were in the midst of the Eesa. At 8 P.M. we reached
"Gagab", the third Marhalah, where the camels, casting themselves upon the
ground, imperatively demanded a halt. Raghe was urgent for an advance,
declaring that already he could sight the watchfires of his Rer or tribe
[12]; but the animals carried the point against him. They were presently
unloaded and turned out to graze, and the lariats of the mules, who are
addicted to running away, were fastened to stones for want of pegs [13].
Then, lighting a fire, we sat down to a homely supper of dates.

The air was fresh and clear; and the night breeze was delicious after the
steamy breath of day. The weary confinement of walls made the splendid
expanse a luxury to the sight, whilst the tumbling of the surf upon the
near shore, and the music of the jackal, predisposed to sweet sleep. We
now felt that at length the die was cast. Placing my pistols by my side,
with my rifle butt for a pillow, and its barrel as a bed-fellow, I sought
repose with none of that apprehension which even the most stout-hearted
traveller knows before the start. It is the difference between fancy and
reality, between anxiety and certainty: to men gifted with any imaginative
powers the anticipation must ever be worse than the event. Thus it
happens, that he who feels a thrill of fear before engaging in a peril,
exchanges it for a throb of exultation when he finds himself hand to hand
with the danger.

The "End of Time" volunteered to keep watch that night. When the early
dawn glimmered he aroused us, and blew up the smouldering fire, whilst our
women proceeded to load the camels. We pursued our way over hard alluvial
soil to sand, and thence passed into a growth of stiff yellow grass not
unlike a stubble in English September. Day broke upon a Somali Arcadia,
whose sole flaws were salt water and Simum. Whistling shepherds [14]
carried in their arms the younglings of the herds, or, spear in hand,
drove to pasture long regular lines of camels, that waved their vulture-
like heads, and arched their necks to bite in play their neighbours'
faces, humps, and hind thighs. They were led by a patriarch, to whose
throat hung a Kor or wooden bell, the preventive for straggling; and most
of them were followed (for winter is the breeding season) by colts in
every stage of infancy. [15] Patches of sheep, with snowy skins and jetty
faces, flocked the yellow plain; and herds of goats resembling deer were
driven by hide-clad children to the bush. Women, in similar attire,
accompanied them, some chewing the inner bark of trees, others spinning
yarns of a white creeper called Sagsug for ropes and tent-mats. The boys
carried shepherds' crooks [16], and bore their watering pails [17],
foolscap fashion, upon their heads. Sometimes they led the ram, around
whose neck a cord of white leather was bound for luck; at other times they
frisked with the dog, an animal by no means contemptible in the eyes of
the Bedouins. [18] As they advanced, the graceful little sand antelope
bounded away over the bushes; and above them, soaring high in the
cloudless skies, were flights of vultures and huge percnopters, unerring
indicators of man's habitation in Somali-land. [19]

A net-work of paths showed that we were approaching a populous place; and
presently men swarmed forth from their hive-shaped tents, testifying their
satisfaction at our arrival, the hostile Habr Awal having threatened to
"eat them up." We rode cautiously, as is customary, amongst the yeaning
she-camels, who are injured by a sudden start, and about 8 A.M. arrived at
our guide's kraal, the fourth station, called "Gudingaras," or the low
place where the Garas tree grows. The encampment lay south-east (165) of,
and about twenty miles from, Zayla.

Raghe disappeared, and the Bedouins flocked out to gaze upon us as we
approached the kraal. Meanwhile Shehrazade and Deenarzade fetched tent-
sticks from the village, disposed our luggage so as to form a wall, rigged
out a wigwam, spread our beds in the shade, and called aloud for sweet and
sour milk. I heard frequently muttered by the red-headed spearmen, the
ominous term "Faranj" [20]; and although there was no danger, it was
deemed advisable to make an impression without delay. Presently they began
to deride our weapons: the Hammal requested them to put up one of their
shields as a mark; they laughed aloud but shirked compliance. At last a
large brown, bare-necked vulture settled on the ground at twenty paces'
distance. The Somal hate the "Gurgur", because he kills the dying and
devours the dead on the battle-field: a bullet put through the bird's body
caused a cry of wonder, and some ran after the lead as it span whistling
over the ridge. Then loading with swan-shot, which these Bedouins had
never seen, I knocked over a second vulture flying. Fresh screams followed
the marvellous feat; the women exclaimed "Lo! he bringeth down the birds
from heaven;" and one old man, putting his forefinger in his mouth,
praised Allah and prayed to be defended from such a calamity. The effect
was such that I determined always to cany a barrel loaded with shot as the
best answer for all who might object to "Faranj."

We spent our day in the hut after the normal manner, with a crowd of
woolly-headed Bedouins squatting perseveringly opposite our quarters,
spear in hand, with eyes fixed upon every gesture. Before noon the door-
mat was let down,--a precaution also adopted whenever box or package was
opened,--we drank milk and ate rice with "a kitchen" of Kawurmah. About
midday the crowd retired to sleep; my companions followed their example,
and I took the opportunity of sketching and jotting down notes. [21] Early
in the afternoon the Bedouins returned, and resumed their mute form of
pleading for tobacco: each man, as he received a handful, rose slowly from
his hams and went his way. The senior who disliked the gun was importunate
for a charm to cure his sick camel: having obtained it, he blessed us in a
set speech, which lasted at least half an hour, and concluded with
spitting upon the whole party for good luck. [22] It is always well to
encourage these Nestors; they are regarded with the greatest reverence by
the tribes, who believe that

"old experience doth attain
To something like prophetic strain;"

and they can either do great good or cause much petty annoyance.

In the evening I took my gun, and, accompanied by the End of Time, went
out to search for venison: the plain, however, was full of men and cattle,
and its hidden denizens had migrated. During our walk we visited the tomb
of an Eesa brave. It was about ten feet long, heaped up with granite
pebbles, bits of black basalt, and stones of calcareous lime: two upright
slabs denoted the position of the head and feet, and upon these hung the
deceased's milk-pails, much the worse for sun and wind. Round the grave
was a thin fence of thorns: opposite the single narrow entrance, were
three blocks of stone planted in line, and showing the number of enemies
slain by the brave. [23] Beyond these trophies, a thorn roofing, supported
by four bare poles, served to shade the relatives, when they meet to sit,
feast, weep, and pray.

The Bedouin funerals and tombs are equally simple. They have no favourite
cemeteries as in Sindh and other Moslem and pastoral lands: men are buried
where they die, and the rarity of the graves scattered about the country
excited my astonishment. The corpse is soon interred. These people, like
most barbarians, have a horror of death and all that reminds them of it:
on several occasions I have been begged to throw away a hut-stick, that
had been used to dig a grave. The bier is a rude framework of poles bound
with ropes of hide. Some tie up the body and plant it in a sitting
posture, to save themselves the trouble of excavating deep: this perhaps
may account for the circular tombs seen in many parts of the country.
Usually the corpse is thrust into a long hole, covered with wood and
matting, and heaped over with earth and thorns, half-protected by an oval
mass of loose stones, and abandoned to the jackals and hyenas.

We halted a day at Gudingaras, wishing to see the migration of a tribe.
Before dawn, on the 30th November, the Somali Stentor proclaimed from the
ridge-top, "Fetch your camels!--Load your goods!--We march!" About 8 A.M.
we started in the rear. The spectacle was novel to me. Some 150 spearmen,
assisted by their families, were driving before them divisions which, in
total, might amount to 200 cows, 7000 camels, and 11,000 or 12,000 sheep
and goats. Only three wore the Bal or feather, which denotes the brave;
several, however, had the other decoration--an ivory armlet. [24] Assisted
by the boys, whose heads were shaved in a cristated fashion truly
ridiculous, and large pariah dogs with bushy tails, they drove the beasts
and carried the colts, belaboured runaway calves, and held up the hind
legs of struggling sheep. The sick, of whom there were many,--dysentery
being at the time prevalent,--were carried upon camels with their legs
protruding in front from under the hide-cover. Many of the dromedaries
showed the Habr Awal brand [25]: laden with hutting materials and domestic
furniture, they were led by the maidens: the matrons, followed, bearing
their progeny upon their backs, bundled in the shoulder-lappets of cloth
or hide. The smaller girls, who, in addition to the boys' crest, wore a
circlet of curly hair round the head, carried the weakling lambs and kids,
or aided their mammas in transporting the baby. Apparently in great fear
of the "All" or Commando, the Bedouins anxiously inquired if I had my
"fire" with me [26], and begged us to take the post of honour--the van. As
our little party pricked forward, the camels started in alarm, and we were
surprised to find that this tribe did not know the difference between
horses and mules. Whenever the boys lost time in sport or quarrel, they
were threatened by their fathers with the jaws of that ogre, the white
stranger; and the women exclaimed, as they saw us approach, "Here comes
the old man who knows knowledge!" [27]

Having skirted the sea for two hours, I rode off with the End of Time to
inspect the Dihh Silil [28], a fiumara which runs from the western hills
north-eastwards to the sea. Its course is marked by a long line of
graceful tamarisks, whose vivid green looked doubly bright set off by
tawny stubble and amethyst-blue sky. These freshets are the Edens of Adel.
The banks are charmingly wooded with acacias of many varieties, some
thorned like the fabled Zakkum, others parachute-shaped, and planted in
impenetrable thickets: huge white creepers, snake-shaped, enclasp giant
trees, or connect with their cordage the higher boughs, or depend like
cables from the lower branches to the ground. Luxuriant parasites abound:
here they form domes of flashing green, there they surround with verdure
decayed trunks, and not unfrequently cluster into sylvan bowers, under
which--grateful sight!--appears succulent grass. From the thinner thorns
the bell-shaped nests of the Loxia depend, waving in the breeze, and the
wood resounds with the cries of bright-winged choristers. The torrent-beds
are of the clearest and finest white sand, glittering with gold-coloured
mica, and varied with nodules of clear and milky quartz, red porphyry, and
granites of many hues. Sometimes the centre is occupied by an islet of
torn trees and stones rolled in heaps, supporting a clump of thick jujube
or tall acacia, whilst the lower parts of the beds are overgrown with long
lines of lively green colocynth. [29] Here are usually the wells,
surrounded by heaps of thorns, from which the leaves have been browsed
off, and dwarf sticks that support the water-hide. When the flocks and
herds are absent, troops of gazelles may be seen daintily pacing the
yielding surface; snake trails streak the sand, and at night the fiercer
kind of animals, lions, leopards, and elephants, take their turn. In
Somali-land the well is no place of social meeting; no man lingers to chat
near it, no woman visits it, and the traveller fears to pitch hut where
torrents descend, and where enemies, human and bestial, meet.

We sat under a tree watching the tribe defile across the water-course:
then remounting, after a ride of two miles, we reached a ground called
Kuranyali [30], upon which the wigwams of the Nomads were already rising.
The parched and treeless stubble lies about eight miles from and 145 S.E.
of Gudingaras; both places are supplied by Angagarri, a well near the sea,
which is so distant that cattle, to return before nightfall, must start
early in the morning.

My attendants had pitched the Gurgi or hut: the Hammal and Long Guled
were, however, sulky on account of my absence, and the Kalendar appeared
disposed to be mutinous. The End of Time, who never lost an opportunity to
make mischief, whispered in my ear, "Despise thy wife, thy son, and thy
servant, or they despise thee!" The old saw was not wanted, however, to
procure for them a sound scolding. Nothing is worse for the Eastern
traveller than the habit of "sending to Coventry:"--it does away with all
manner of discipline.

We halted that day at Kuranyali, preparing water and milk for two long
marches over the desert to the hills. Being near the shore, the air was
cloudy, although men prayed for a shower in vain: about midday the
pleasant seabreeze fanned our cheeks, and the plain was thronged with tall
pillars of white sand. [31]

The heat forbade egress, and our Wigwam was crowded with hungry visitors.
Raghe, urged thereto by his tribe, became importunate, now for tobacco,

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