Niger Mission CA3/04 Bp. Samuel A. Crowther. Journals & Reports. 1860-79
Report of the annual visit to the Niger Mission in 1873.
Akasa. I commence at this station as it stands at the entrance of the Nun, the highway to the upper Niger. This place was occupied subsequent to Onitsha and Gbebe at the Confluence of the Kwara and Tshada Rivers, from pressure of circumstances; it was never intended to be taken up as a station before. The ascent of the Niger being unsafe in 1861, unless the trading steamers were escorted by a gunboat, which then never made its appearance, till the river had subsided, and the time of ascent was lost, there was no alternative, but to get up a place on shore to locate a large party of mission agents who were sent from Sierra Leone that year for the mission in the upper station: hence originated the Akassa Station, which has since become a halting place for agents going to the upper stations, where they waited for the ascending steamer once a year; so it has become a rendezvous to other passengers, who availed themselves of its use, as there was no trading factory at the Nun at that time.
The merchants themselves availed themselves of its advantages before they established themselves at the Nun. But another main object of keeping this station was as a model to the inhabitants of the Delta; this has been fully realized: children were sent to school here from Brass River and the neighboring villages in the Creeks. The king and chiefs of Brass who had sent their children to Akassa school for some years, visited it, attended service, & closely watched its working, when they ultimately invited me to establish a mission station in their own river in 1868, consequently all the children form Brass River were removed to their own station: and now not a single child from Akassa is sent to school, from the indifference of the people to book learning and religious education, hence this station appears deserted like a solitary cottage in a garden of cucumbers. James Broom Apere Walker, the first Akassa boy whom we received into the school as a boarder, now employed as an assistant.....[pg. 2-10 omitted]
Lokoja. This station was very much disturbed through the rebellion of the Bunus at the earlier part of the year. These inhabitants of the mountain countries attempted to free themselves from the oppressive yoke of the Mohammedan government, under which they have been groaning these many years, but Lokoja proved a great hindrance; the occupation of it as missionary station, as well mercantile port, strengthen the Mohammedan government which maintains its footing there, into which many of their restless war men resort and make a camp, from which they go out in frequent kidnapping expeditions; so they determined to reek their vengeance on the settlement and destroy it, and thus weaken the Mohammedan power in that locality; besides this, a desire to plunder the rich stores of three mercantile houses and mission property must greatly stimulate this determination against the settlement. King Masaba conquered this place soon after the great expedition of 1841, and took it away from the Atta of Idda, when the inhabitants were killed, caught or scattered about the mountain countries. Twice they have made attempts to destroy Lokoja; last year, when they expected that late King Masaba would be deposed by the Sultan of Gondu, they attacked it but failed, this year also, on hearing of his death, supposing no more protection for the settlement, they attacked it on Sunday the 2nd of March, when the converts were engaged at the early morning prayers, taking them by surprise, unprepared, they would make it an easy conquest; but through divine interposition, the enemies were defeated and driven back to the mountain, with severe losses, though not without the loss of three lives to the people of Lokoja, and several wounded.
Umoru, the new king of Bida, on hearing of this assault on the settlement, immediately sent a detachment of his war men to protect it, where they still remained when we left it in October.
This is the way Lokoja has been preserved from destruction and our mission mercifully saved from being ruined. As the protectors of the settlement are not provided for, we have to pay our share of the expenses in common with other settlers and merchants, whose establishments and properties were in danger of being destroyed and plundered. After this, a restless chief who always disturbed the river passage between the settlement and Egga was caught and dispatched off, and the river passage became free to all passengers and traders. This prompt measures taken by king Umoru to secure peace and order, gave confidence to those who had fled out of Lokoja in time of danger for security elsewhere, to return and rebuild their huts, their friends and relatives accompanied them to settle at Lokoja also.
In this unsettled state the minds of the inhabitants, we cannot expect a steady increase at church, though new faces are seen at times during divine service. Since the return of the runaways, the number of the congregations has kept good in both small places of worship on the Lord’s day; at Trinity Church attendants 70, and at the Bunu chapel 65 The average on the Lord’s day making a total of 135 souls collected together to received the means of grace on that day in the midst of heathen and Mohammedan population, who both adhere to their own ways as good. Both places of worship need enlargement, but I have kept back from doing so hitherto, but as there is prospect of quietness in the settlement under the present government, in which the people seem to have confidence, I have instructed Rev. J. C. John to enlarge Trinity Church for better accommodation of a larger congregation; the next chapel will be taken into consideration as we see the timid Bunu more settled.
The number of school children is 21, most of whom are boarders, supported by kind Christian friends in England, by which means their regular attendance is secured; they progress of the advanced scholars in reading, writing, and scriptural knowledge is very satisfactory: they speak three African languages, besides the English; this settlement is a confluence of languages as of rivers, hence its superior importance, here one has an opportunity of communicating with people from different countries and of different languages. Some years ago I made efforts to shew what great advantage it would have been to us, if, when we were at the Fourah Bay Institution we had been taught the powers of Arabic alphabet, so as to be able to make use of them in writing our own languages, as we can now do with the English alphabet modified. This must not be understood that I mean that we be made Arabic scholars; no, but a mere knowledge of the powers of Arabic character, so as to be able to use them in writing letters in our own language for the information of native Mohammedans, who have been taught to write scraps of the Koran in those characters. Important verses of scriptures written in Arabic characters in a native language which such persons can read will do them as much good as tracts which are printed in English characters in any foreign language. I was very thankful when I found that the Committee gave, in the Hausa Primer of the Rev. J. F. Schon, a place for a few words and sentences in Arabic characters. Last year before leaving Lokoja, I instructed Mr. John to exercise the foremost boys of the first class in writing Arabic alphabet; the enclosed papers will shew their attempts in imitating those characters: if Mohammedan boys of their neighbors, their playmates, who are taught, can learn them fro the purpose of writing passages from the Koran as charms to sell to the people for their own profit, the characters would be better employed if our school children can use them, by writing in our own languages, texts from the truths of the gospel, to whom such texts will ever remain sealed, in characters unknown by them.
The Revd. C. Paul has returned from his short visit to Sierra Leone; his attention has been chiefly directed to the translation of portions of the New Testament into Nupe, having an old experienced Nupe English speaking immigrant as his assistant; he is a Mohammedan, but well acquainted with his mother tongue, which is important.
I have had an eye upon Egga for an advanced station sometime back, as a basis of extension beyond Lokoja, but the fickleness of the late King gave me no favorable opportunity to press it. This would bring us 80 miles higher up the river from Lokoja, nearer to Bida, and of much easier access to the Yoruba country from the Bank of the Niger; when the way is open, many people from Lagos travel overland to trade at Egga market; with this view, I keep up friendship with the King of Ilorin by kind compliments.
At this visit, I broached the subject to King Umoru at Bida, in the presence of the English merchants, how important it would be if he would permit an establishment to be made on the high land on the other side of the river opposite the town of Egga where there is ample room, and the locality healthier than Egga, which is a mere deposit of the river, very muddy and filthy at the fall of rains: the huts are so close to each other, that in many places there is not passage enough between for two persons to cross each other; when a merchant wants a place on shore for his trading purposes, many huts had to be pulled down to make room; the inmates must seek shelter elsewhere. I told the king that if he consent to form such a place as I proposed, I would place my people there; he replied “the proposal is very good, here are my councilors sitting by me, I will consult them, to what conclusion we shall come about it, I will let you know.” With this in view, I have instructed Rev. C. Paul to hold himself in readiness, the moment the King should give his consent to proceed to Egga and secure a place at this new ground.
Should I be successful in this, we must not expect more rapid progress here as regards the conversion of the people to Christianity than in other Mohammedan countries; but we have heathen elements to work upon, and in due time a native congregation will be collected as a seedling for the diffusion of Christianity among the surrounding tribes. I am taking advantage of present favorable opportunity to secure a footing which may not probably be easy to accomplish at another change of government, as at this time. On all hands I am looked upon as their oldest confidential friend and adviser, with whom they were acquainted from the days of their fathers; as they thus confidently entrusted themselves to my advice, I think I should in return take advantage of it, to advise a more suitable locality where a mission station could be planted in this part of the country, before another king arise who may no know Joseph. Of one thing I am almost certain, that, when once young native mission agents are located among this people, as long as they continue to behave themselves well, it is not likely they will ever be turned out.
The Arabic Bible which I gave late King Masaba to be forwarded to the King of Ilorin has not been sent. Since the visit of the Sultan of Gondu last year, over which he could not easily get, together with his declining health, the late king was out of temper almost with all his rival friends, and the king of Ilorin among the rest. I asked Da-Isa the messenger for Ilorin, he told me, the late King had intended to do so but did not. I asked king Umoru whether he had come across the two Arabic Bibles, among the late king’s property. He said, no; he proposed to send to Ilorin to ask the king whether he had got a copy, but I requested him not to send as the messenger who would have been the bearer had told me it was not sent. In all probability, the late king had sent them to the Sultan of Sokoto and Gondu, as king Umoru said he had not come across them among the late king’s property after his death; so I promised to bring out two other copies at my next visit.
Brass Station. I arrived here on Saturday the 28th Oct.; and have had an opportunity of spending three Sundays among this people; though their minister, the Rev. Thos. Johnson was absent in Sierra Leone for a few months, yet the congregation has kept up and did not fall back nor neglected the means of grace. No molestation now from persecution and the number of churchgoers has been on the increase. The persecutors seemed to be convinced of their unjust charges against the Christians and their consequent punishment, whilst the converts keep steadfast in attending the means of grace.
Mr. Johnson observing that persecution has now subsided, proposed a special service of thanksgiving for such a deliverance on the morning of Wed the 1st Oct. and a meet to offer thank offering in the afternoon of the same day, both of which were responded to with readiness and cheerfulness. During the meeting in the afternoon, the names of those who were willing to give something were taken down, because there is nothing in shape of coin or any currency in this place to do it with on the spot; when the amount promised in trade goods was brought together, no less than £51.8.10 was contributed by the native, which amount was increased to £61.8.10 by two checks of £5 each, from two European merchants in the river. In addition to this, King Ockiya has paid goods to .[......cut off]
Visit to Bida
Sept. 5. 1873. Left Egga in the morning, in the steam launch with Capt. J. Croft, Agent for Messrs. Miller Brothers & Co. and arrived at Wunangi Ferry the following morning; on the morning of the 7th, the king sent horses and we rode to Bida, to the quarter of the town king Umoru has occupied for years as subordinate. Late King Masaba had bequeathed his house to his eldest son Lupon as his private property, so Umoru could not remove thither without the consent of Lupon; to avoid dispute, he made no change of residence. Our reception by King Umoru was most hearty and welcome, this being the first visit to him as king by the English merchants. I arrived at the palace last, and was received alone with cordial friendship, when we entered into a long and interesting conversation on various subjects. This first favorable impression gave me hope of a better government, facility of safe communication from one part of the river to another without molestation.
When all the mercantile agents were present at Bida, I asked for an interview with the king, that Governor Berkeley’s letter accompanying the Queens’ presents to king Umoru might be delivered to him before them all, to make the occasion more imposing.
King Umoru was delighted and felt himself very highly honored by these tokens of recognizance from Her Majesty the Queen at his accession to the throne of Nupe. He expressed most anxious desire to secure the friendship which has long existed between the late King and Her Majesty’s government . The first thing to which his attention was immediately directed after King Masaba’s death was, to secure the papers of all his unpaid debts to the English merchants, which he was instructed by Masaba as his last request, to discharge, as soon as possible, that they may not be discouraged.; the first installment of which, he there and then began to pay to the different firms in produce and cowries. His letter to His Excellency Governor Berkeley Administrator in chief of Sierra Leone , breathes the same ardent wishes, namely, a greater interest on the part of Her Majesty’s Government for the advancement of his Kingdom and subjects than ever. Specimens of native manufactures accompanied the letter through His Excellency to Her Majesty the Queen. King Umoru’s protection of the stranded steamer the “Snowdow” in the Niger since last Oct., with only three Europeans on board is a clear proof of his good wishes to be friendly with the English Government - Among other things, I informed the king of the visit of the Shah of Persia to England, his kingly reception, and the impressions made on his mind, so favorable, that he could not express them in words, but in ardent request, that England would be kind enough to consent to construct railroad in his dominions for the facility of communication and commerce; that while such a mighty Mohammedan monarch did not spare himself the trouble of such a visit, nor did he think his kingdom was beyond improvements, how much more should African kings desire a foreign power to improve their countries by their wealth and skill. I then shewed him a lump of coal which Capt. Croft had kindly given me on asking, as the fuel with which steam work is done in England, and that he should show it to his subjects, perhaps they might come across such a thing as that in the country one day, to report it to him. This was a piece of curiosity.
The Sultan of Sokoto has encouraged king Umoru to protect English merchants and residents at Nupe, and by no means to let the cord of friendship between him and the English be broken. Commerce is being invited and protected, cultivation of produce is encouraged, collections of Palm oil and shea butter are on the increase every year, besides ivory, all which are given in exchange for Manchester Cotton goods, hardware and salt, shipped direct for Liverpool: how to encourage these native kings and chieftains to persevere in continuing these laudable efforts is worth a deliberate kind consideration of Her Majesty’s Government. While Egypt, Persia, and Japan are inviting England’s interest on the behalf of their own improvements, can a call be louder than this from this part of Central Africa, which some years past drew the attention of many warm hearted and sympathizing friends in England, to elevate it from its present degradation through slave wars? now that the ruling powers are appreciating those efforts on their own behalf, must they be passed by unheeded?
The next day according to the suggestion of the king, we all went round on a visit of sympathy to his subordinate chiefs on account of the death of the late king Masaba: this is in accordance to the custom of the country of consoling the bereaved of their departed friend.
During our nine days stay here, there was no lack of provisions, bullock, livestock of all descriptions, rice, yams, pumpkins, milk, and abundance of wood to cook with, and oil to make our lamps.
Sept. 16th. This day was fixed for my leaving Bida, and the agents for the W.A. Co. Ltd. also, for Egga; according to arrangement, should there be no other opportunity from Egga to Lokoja, thither, that I might be able to spend some days there before the steamers leave Egga finally for the lower parts of the river. To make impressions on the minds of his subjects, the king took the opportunity of the party leaving Bida to shew his welcome reception of the visitors to him for the first time as king, by escorting us as far as the city-gate to Wunangi road, as the late King had done several times before. Having mustered a large cavalry of about 500 horses, and a large retinue of foot[men] about 3000 people, collected in the wide open space before the entrance of the palace, we were with the king within receiving his repeated assurance of his good wishes towards us; but unexpected incidents were at hand to damp the enjoyment of the pleasure of the day. As we were going out with the King, one of the horsemen, recently entitled, the chief of the cavalry, being under the influence of ardent spirits, which helped forward the excitements of the day, was discharging a revolver he had in hand, in the midst of the crowd, with out the least idea or regard to what mischief he might do; all he wanted was to show off his skills, what he could do as a great mounted warrior, by discharging his firearms, pointing hither and thither, as if aiming at an enemy, and then discharged. We were just going out with the King when providentially two of our party who stood close by, escaped, the muzzle of the revolver being just pointed off from their direction and discharged, which struck a bystander on the head, the consequence was instantaneous death, without uttering a word; alarm was soon spread through the crowd, that a man was shot dead, any more discharge of firearms was immediately prohibited.
The dead having been removed to an opposite house, we mounted for the procession to the town-gate, where the king dismounted and we with him, and squatted on mats, under a shady tree, to hold last conversation, and repeat the assurance of his good wishes towards us, which he sincerely hoped we received as expressed. After arrangements of business matters with the merchants, we the party leaving took our leave of the king, mounted and took our departure for Wunangi ferry, those who were not ready to go away returned with the king to the city. Here again another painful incident awaited the party to end the proceedings of the day. As the king and retinue were returning to the palace gate; a party of horsemen started their sudden short gallop in the narrow passages between the houses in the town. Capt. Croft not wishing to let his rather spirited horse to follow the example held him on, but the ungovernable creature struggled to have his way, took him against the wall, against which he dragged his rider’s leg with such force and weight of her body that the Captain’s right leg got twisted with the clumsy stirrup iron and broke above the ankle. He called for help, when Shita immediately returned, dismounted and came to his help, and took him down for the horse, in the greatest agony possible, holding up his broken leg which could not bear a touch of any body else: in that position he remained for a good while till his light traveling Madeira sofa could be brought to convey him to his lodging; immediately the king got two of his skillful native doctors in setting fractured limbs to attend him, which they did very creditably considering the means at their disposal. The names of the two doctors are Soje and Iro, who immediately prepared a short mat constructed from the hard bark of a bamboo pole for a splint, calico bandages were got ready, when the two doctors applied their force in setting the leg, after which it was bound very tight round with bandages next to the skin [?] the bamboo mat splint was bound tight round over that, and then other rounds of bandages very tight overall; no regard was paid to pains or groans, but to set the leg was the main object of attention, after which, he was laid straight on the sofa, suffering unimaginable pains. The king was in attendance all the time, giving direction. Capt. Hemmingway being present, must have been of great service to Capt. Croft, and a comfort to him to have a European near at hand, though the doctors were left to practice in their own way.
We were not aware of this mishap till about half an hour after our arrival at Wunangi ferry, which is about seven miles from the City gate; we were arranging for canoes for our packages to leave for Egga early the next morning, when I was surprised to see Tommy, who had halted at Bida on business, accompanied by three horsemen from the king with a hasty card note from Capt. Hemmingway, informing me of the accident which Capt. Croft had met with, and of his request that I should return to Bida with the messengers that night.
The day seemed to be a chapter of painful accidents that followed soon one after another. There was no alternative but immediately snatched my only necessary personal luggage, mounted and returned to Bida at 10½ p.m. when I met Capt. Croft suffering most excruciating pains. It was very fortunate that Capt. Hemmingway was present at Bida, who with Shita and Mr. Franklin rendered every possible assistance to suit his pains and make him comfortable the best way they could.
Having returned to Bida, my plan for going to Lokoja at an earlier period was laid aside, it was even then questionable whether it would have been advisable for me to venture the passage in an open canoe from Egga to Lokoja, at this time, because the first intelligence which reached us immediately on our arrival at Wunangi was, a disturbance at the river passage between Egga and Muye; the people of Budon having attacked Muye canoes returning from Egga, killed, wounded or caught twenty persons; under such circumstances, it would not have been advisable for me to venture the passage, especially when I called to remembrance the unfavorable conduct of the people of Budon towards us when we passed through their town on our overland route journey from Lokoja in 1871: thus, I felt reconciled that my time was otherwise ordered to be usefully employed at Bida, than my own planning. Capt. Croft was very thankful to see me to render assistance on this painful occasion. The king was particularly relieved in his mind as his anxiety was very much allayed by my presence.
Nothing could surpass the sympathy of His Majesty on this painful occasion; he supplied eatables and stock of every description and gave a bullock to be slaughtered immediately that the patient might have his choice, but this we declined to do till he was better and he could participate in the King’s bounty. He made several visits to the patient, on which occasion he showed his legs and arms, which were broken at different times by falls from the horse, but which were all set and perfectly restored. Others showed the same, to encourage the patient that his case could not be an exception, the doctors well understood their work. To [At] the mosque on Friday the 19th the king asked the prayer of the faithful for the recovery of Capt. Croft.
A short statement of the treatment by native doctors may give some idea of their practice. When a leg or any limb is broken, the patient is well secured, without any regard to pains, howl or groans, a pull is made till the bone is set, when splints made of slips of hard bamboo pole bark are bound round it as tight as possible, and then left alone for several days unloosed to allow time for joining: in the meantime, warm water is applied to bathe the leg with; but in this case we strongly advised the use of cold water as more suiting to the white man’s constitution, and their mode of treatment, which they rather reluctantly complied with, but the water was lukewarm. When the splints were taken off for a short time to remove the bandages and make them tighter before they were put on again, the leg was bedaubed with Ostrich marrow, and fat extracted from a hen just killed, as mollifying ointment, in the virtue of which, they placed much faith as specific in its healing power.
There was some superstitious ceremony connected with the doctors’ treatment, before the ostrich marrow and hen’s fat were applied; the doctor stood and very gravely muttered some prayer and then spattered some mists of spittle from his mouth on the broken leg, as if that were to convey a healing virtue with the marrow ointment to the injured parts, after which, he commenced to rub the marrow-fat; the juice of some green herbs is also used as a healing balm. Being perfectly under the treatment of native doctors, and no medicines, or other civilized instruments being near at hand, and as they were right in the main point in the use of splints and bandages, no one interfered with their ceremony or mode of treatment.
No medicine was taken internally till the steam launch returned from Egga with a well furnished medicine chest, which was of great service. Still the native made splints were not removed as they served their purpose.
Of the two native doctors, Soje was more lenient and careful, but Iro’ was rough, not only in appearance but also in the mode of handling of his patient, whose sight Capt. Croft could not bear. It was very amusing to see him excited at the very sight of Iro’, and to hear him exclaim “Oh pray do not let that man touch me, do not let that man touch me! he is more of a horse doctor than of a human being:” So Iro’s service were dispensed with, leaving Soje alone as the sole physician of the Anasara
At the next visit of the king, the medicine chest was opened and shown to him and his attendant chiefs, especially surgical splints for broken limbs, legs, thigh, and arm, with accompanying woodcuts to show their applications and treatments, at which he was not a little surprised and said. “You were well .....[ omission.... cut off from here.]
Notices of the Atta of Idda in the Igara Country.
Having said something of different tribes and their ruling powers, it will not be out of place to say something of the Atta of Idda in the Igara country, although the place at present is not occupied.
The government of the Igara country is as week as ever; the power of the present Atta does not seem to have greater influence over his subjects inhabiting the banks of the Niger, than that of his predecessor. On his accession to the throne of Idda, he called the two contending brothers for the headship of Gbebe to appear before him; every one anxiously expected that he would then put an end to this long dispute, which has caused the ruin of many villages, great loss of lives, stoppage of trade, and endangered communication from one market to another by canoe in the river: but to the disappointment of all expectation, all that the Atta could do in the case was, to detach such of his subjects who had sided with the one or the other brother in disputing the claim, from assisting any longer, but let the two brothers fight it out between themselves.
It is reported that during their stay at Idda to answer the summons of the Atta, Akaia, who was the appointed chief of Gbebe by the late Atta, had committed himself with some persons of the Atta’s household; fearing lest he should be apprehended and dealt with according to law, made his escape from Idda, and is now taking refuge at one of the intermediate villages between Idda and Lokoja, where the Atta could not reach him. But this is not all: the power of life and death is not the exclusive prerogative of the Atta; any subordinate chief can exercise it at pleasure, on whom their rage is directed The cause of any disadvantageous circumstance which might befall Akaia, was sure to be laid on someone, as having bewitched him. Last year, a respectable elderly woman, of very tender feelings and kindly disposition, the sister of the late chief of Gbebe, really a mother -like to Akaia, having nursed him up in his childhood, was accused by this wicked man as having bewitched him, upon which suspicion, Akaia ordered the poison draught, the water of ordeal to be given her to drink to prove her innocence, which proved fatal to her life: every right-minded persons shuddered at this cold-blooded murder. A few weeks ago, an elderly man of influence, called Okoro Shigiala, met the same fate from Akaia. Attributing the cause of the trouble he got into at Idda to witchcraft, poor Okoro was accused as having bewitched him upon which, Akaia ordered the like poisonous draught to be administered to him; but as that did not put an end to his life Akaia ordered him to be beaten with club, beheaded, and his head to be brought to him, and the body to be burnt; but out of respect for the old man by the elders, the body was not burnt, but Akaia triumphed at the sight of Okoro’s head as if he conquered an emperor.
I was very much shocked at hearing this cruel and barbarous murder on my return from Bida to Lokoja: for these reasons:
Though Okoro was slave to Akaia’s grandfather, the old Abokko of the Landers’, Laird’s and Oldfields’ time, yet he was as father to Akaia from his childhood; Okoro was ever regarded as a member of the family, himself having many grown up children in the house, and prospered well in trade, by which he gained much influence and commanded due respect. When Okoro was a youth, he was one of those who were sent by the grandfather Abokko to paddle the Landers down to Brass River in a canoe in their first exploring expedition to discover the embouchure of the Niger: he was the only surviving person among the rest; this fact attached Okoro to us since our mission station was established at Gbebe which friendship he maintained to the time he met his fate.
I had great regard for him, and often introduced him to Naval officers and new masters of steamers visiting the Niger as the surviving connecting link between the Landers and ourselves, which always created great interest among them, when presents were made to him as a mark of respect.
During Akaia’s troubles with his brother Abaje, Okoro stood by and supported him as a faithful friend and father, he spared neither property nor men to aid him, and yet after all, the thanks this faithful man received from Akaia was base ingratitude sealed with ruthless, barbarous, cold blooded murder, upon a mere groundless suspicion. These are only two instances out of many of Akaia’s wicked deeds, yet the law of the country could not punish him, showing what a poor protection there must be to the Atta’s subjects, who has no power to defend the injured and punish the oppressor. The town of Idda is divided between itself, one party sympathizes with the late King and his government, another with the present and his proceedings.
Under these circumstances, what a friend of humanity, and of the oppressed, would not wish and pray, that, such a weak, rotten, and powerless government, might one day, fall into the hand of another power, which could defend the poor and justly punish the wrongdoer.
When the “Victoria” took the ground in August a few miles, below Idda, the Atta and chief Abaje sent a message, with a present of a goat, to invite me to return, and re-establish our station at Idda, exonerating themselves from having hand in the wrong done to me by Abaje? in 1867 during the reign of the late Atta; but I was not on board the Victoria to reply to this message, thus: that unless the Atta will proclaim it as a law, that the river passage was free and safe to us in open boat or canoe, in moving from one station to another, without molestation from anybody, and to hold himself and chiefs responsible for any molestation, when such should happen, I could not see my way clear to re-establish at Idda for the present- The covetous Abokko who had done the mischief in 1867, has since returned to Idda after the death of the late offended Atta, though reduced to beggary for his daily subsistence. Neither myself, and I am thankful to say, nor few of my fellow labourers now in the mission, care much for any amount of work, we may have to do, or exposure endured in travelling by land, river or creek, in the pursuit of our duty, nor are we careful for what the Lord may permit to befall us as the result of a faithful preaching of the gospel, when the rage of Satan may be roused against us: but when a meditated treachery, prompted from covetousness, well disguised under pretended friendship, with the avowed intentions to extort money, to entrap one into difficulties in order to get it, this is more difficult to endure with feelings of resignation than suffering in the cause of the gospel. But we must remember, “The Lord reigneth - Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne”
S. A. Crowther; Bishop, Niger Territory.
Bida, Nupe, Sept 15, [1873?]
His Excellency, George Berkeley, Administrator-in-chief,
I have received your letter kindly ...... forwarded by Bishop Crowther with two cases of presents ...... Gracious Majesty the Queen as a token of continued friendship with me as with the late King Masaba, which I very well appreciate. Accept my thanks for your kind contributions ...the same which were very acceptable.
Permit me Sir, to convey briefly through your .....ency my wishes to Her majesty’s government, as successor to late King Masaba.
1. The friendship which has long existed between Her Majesty’s government and the late King will be firmly .........tained by me, and I hope with greater interest on their part ..........the welfare of this country than ever.
2. Although I have for many years, as a subordinate, .....the proceedings of my late predecessor, and have got my........... acquainted with various foreign matters; yet I reg......... myself as young, and one who needs to be led by a wiser ............... I am open to be instructed and advised as to the best way .............. and improve my kingdom and subjects.
3. I appreciate lawful commerce which creates habits of industry, hence prosperity and comforts, to which thousands of my subjects are now turning their attention; hence one ........ chief matters to which my attention was immediately ........... rected after the late King’s death was, the security of .... papers of his unpaid debts to the English merchants, in accordance to his last urgent wishes I have taken ......... myself the responsibility to discharge, the first installment of which I have this day paid in produce and cowries to each firm that they may not be discouraged.
4. As long as I am King of Nupe, the persons of all English subjects trading or residing in my dominion shall ever be respected and their goods and property protected.
5. To shew specimens of native manufactures in Nupe, I beg your Excellency would be kind enough to forward to Her Gracious majesty the Queen for curiosities the following articles,
I remain Dear Sir, Yours faithful friend, Umoru, Signed in Arabic, Emir of Nupe
Mission House, Brass River. Octob. 30th 1873.
His Excellency, G. Berkeley Esq. Administrator-in-Chief
Enclosed with this, is a letter to your Excellency from His Majesty Umoru the Emir of Nupe, which he has entrusted to my care with some presents as per list to Her Gracious Majesty the Queen, and some to yourself.
This being the first visit of English merchants to him as the Emir of Nupe, Umoru did every thing in his power to shew himself as a real friend of the English nation.
The presents as tokens of friendship from Her Majesty went a great way to stimulate King Umoru to take due steps to facilitate trade, to encourage agriculture and to protect the person and property of English subjects residing or doing business in his dominions.
The first thing King Umoru did as soon as he ascended the throne was to clear the river passage between Egga market and the settlement of Lokoja, that there might be an uninterrupted communication between the two places for the benefit of trade, which was the case before we arrived at the settlement this year. The Sultans of Sokoto and Gondu have both instructed King Umoru, by no means to let the cord of friendship between him and the English Government be broken, which already shews the extent of British influence.
King Umoru is an educated Mohammedan, and is well read on subjects, relating to civilized nations on the north, the quickness with which he entered into the idea of any information given him on such subjects, at once proved his superior intelligence to his late predecessor. Taking all this into consideration, together with his own express to be led and advised by wise minds, and also the extent of countries over which his influence is felt. I feel persuaded that if Her Majesty’s government would continue to shew their recognizance of his earnest wishes to promote interest of trade, and more extensive cultivation of produce suitable for European markets, by a moderate annual remuneration, I believe great benefits will accrue from it both to commerce and Christian civilization of this extensive portion of interior Africa.
This seems to me of material importance, when the conduct of King Umoru is compared with that of the King of Ashantee or with that of some of the tribes on the back of Lagos.
I have been connected with the exploration of the Rivers Niger and Tshadda since 1841, and can testify that the regards which the authorities of Nupe conceived for the English nation as friend hasn’t abated, but rather on the increase, and with it the trade also. From one solitary steamer which used to visit the country only one trip in the year, the number has now increased to six good sized steamers, besides three steam launches, making four or five trips during the season of the flood, laden with produce which is transshipped to the coast in larger steamers for Liverpool. There are four mercantile houses now doing business on the Niger, whose trading stations are extending along on the banks of the River.
I have taken the liberty of expressing my thoughts thus freely, because I know the great interest you take in the welfare of the country, and that you will not leave a stone unturned to promote its welfare. With best respects,
I remain, Dear Sir, Yours very truly, S.A. Crowther.
(Copy of a letter toward the East)
When I returned from Bida to Egga on the 28th Sept. I was informed by my son Mr. Saml. Crowther Junr. that one of his ivory merchants told him that he had seen a white man some two years ago in far east country; on examining the man myself, I wrote the following note for experiment, it matters not into whose hand it may fall should it travel across to the east.
(copy) Egga, River Niger, West Africa, Sept. 28th. 1873.
Having met with an ivory trader by the name of Abudulai, who reported having seen a white man in far east country about two years ago, whom he described as an old man, with white whiskers, who wore long boots, red shirt and a cap, at a place called Kakade Bima at a large body of water called Kadai paddled in a large canoe by the natives called Baya, who wore headbands of cowries, and bedaubed themselves with oil, who are also cannibals:
Suspecting this whiteman may be Dr. Livingstone, I wrote these lines in hope if so,, they may verify the statements, should Abudulai go that way again, and may come across the traveller.
S.A. Crowther. Bishop, Niger Territory.
Report of Bishop Crowther of the Niger Mission to October 1874.
Having visited all the stations of the Niger Mission this year, I must now give a condensed report of each one’s operation during the past year. It is a matter of thankfulness to the God of missions that in the midst of naative political disturbances and manifest and deadly animosities between chiefs and chiefs, our mission agents should be regarded in some places as a mutual party to whom both contending parties can appeal separately to un their minds in telling their wrongs and grievances, in which cases none ever returned home without a salutary advice and friendly admonition from the person whom they have visited. The Christian influence which is brought to bear upon the minds of many of these leading chiefs in the interior is such, that of many of them it may be said, they have almost been persuaded to become Christians, but for some daily sins from which they could not easily separate themselves. The state of polygamy is a chain by which they are held that they cannot be altogether such as Christ would have them to be; it has become an established notion in this country, that the more wives a man has, the more honourable he passes in the estimation of his fellow men; the same is the system of slave holding; a man’s wealth is valued by how many wives and slaves he possesses, the immoral consequences of this state of society are not desirable to be examined into, as long no open breach of faith makes it necessary, otherwise, all is believed to be going on well, so long as the honour is retained.
The faith in the worship of idols is fast loosing ground in many persons who conform to its worship merely as a formal thing to avoid the remarks of their neighbours as having become Christians, which they have not altogether made their minds openly to avow. With others as the heads of families, they said, they are obliged to continue its worship as priests of the families, otherwise they will lose their influence over the younger members as their subordinates, who are only [governed?] and controlled by the influence of priesthood. Many such persons attended the place of worship, and attentively listened to the preaching of the gospel, but could not make up their minds to cast their lot altogether with the Christians by sacrificing those worldly ties & interests.
Mohammedan. We have also to do with Mohammedans in the upper stations, as well as with heathens; the readiness with which they listened to conversation on the Christian religion is a proof that they have embraced Islamism because no better religion has been first introduced among them. Islamism condems idolatory in every shape, and sets up the worship of the only true God in its state, which is supreme; and as they are taught by the Koran to deny the Sonship of Christ, as God can never have a son, they adhere closely to its teaching and believe Mahomet only as his prophet and paradise as a reward to the faithful. This being the pinnacle of their creed, they have been shut up in ignorance of man’s fallen state from holiness and original righteousness, therefore to recover him, God has in his infinite mercy and goodness planned a mysterious way for his recovery, yet that God might be just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. Such a doctrine is quite new to them.
Hence some attend our place of worship to hear in their own language of the great mystery of godliness; how God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” I have not met with a stern opposer of Christianity as far as I have had conversation with Mohammedans up the Niger: this may arise probably from their scanty knowledge of the Koran itself of whose contents we can tell them more than they know themselves, at which they wonder; it may arise from the loose morals it allows, which Christianity condemns in toto, or from the truthfulness of Christianity, the soundness of its teaching, which must commend itself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
The reception of an Arabic bible, which was presented to the Emir of Nupe from the Church Missionary Society, with a childlike glee in the presence of his courtiers was a proof that this people desire to hear and search after the truth. Another copy was sent through him to Alihu, the King of Ilorin who is also an Arabic scholar.
Before leaving Eggan I have an application from Mallali his head messenger for a similar printed edition as that of his master, to buy, but plain bound; he again & again reminded me not to forget his request. Another application for a similar copy was made by a Sierra Leone Mohammedan.
Before leaving Lokoja, I had to present an old priest with a copy of an Arabic Bible, but not printed; he is a scholar, and keeps an Arabic school of several boys, which he has kept up for many years. This man received the Bible with humble attitude and thankfulness which could not be expressed in words. He was an old friend of ours from the old destroyed station Gbebe; he had been requesting one for a long time but suspecting his sincerity, supposing he would make bad use of it to write scraps from, to sell and deceive the people as charm from a new book, I abstained from giving him one then; but from his frequent intercourse with Messrs John & Paul, of Lokoja, which makes very deep and serious impressions on him, he became more earnest, and at Mr. John’s recommendation I gave him the copy above mentioned, which he faithfully promised to read, and not to make any use of otherwise. I told him it would take two?? three?? years attentive reading to go through it chapter by chapter.
Mr. Paul’s acquirement of the Arabic characters, which was helped forward by Mr John’s teaching at Lokoja, enabled him to read suitable verses of Holy Scripture at Eggan, from the Arabic Bible, with the Hausa merchants from Hamaruwa, and Adamawa, who came there to sell ivory. In all our religious conversation with these Mohammedans we never met with an obstinate disputer, or a bigoted denial of what we read or said to them. -- When we take into consideration, the readiness with which the Emir of Nupe has granted me a place for a Mission station on the slope of Kippo Hill, opposite Eggan, I cannot but conclude that the Lord is working with us, to grant us a footing to plant the banner of Christ across in this long secluded country.
To connect the observation on the upper station, I must bring Lokoja in here, that the thread of it and Eggan may not be broken.
Lokoja This station was less disturbed this year than in the past, but the presence of the King’s soldiers do not contribute to its prosperity; though our work has not been disturbed, yet accession to the church would have been greater from the surrounding heathens who shun coming into contact with the extorting soldiers. The church and school duties had been regularly attended to, and the communicants were consistent in their conduct. The table of statistics will be annexed.
The newly enlarged mud wall church was ready for the roofing when the Industrial agent was severely attacked with the smallpox which nearly carried him off, but through God’s mercy he got recovered; but the rains had settlement in so it was too late to attempt the roofing of the church whose walls would have been exposed to the violent rains, which would have softened, washed the building and injured it greatly; this will be accomplished during the dry.
Rev. C. Paul was enabled to make a missionary visit from this place to Eggan in the steam launch, the “Anasi”, belonging to the West Africa Co. Ltd., in the early part of the year, which I hope will be followed by more frequent visits hereafter. The Bunu Chapel at the other end of the town has been requested by the leading members of the congregation to be enlarged as the present [one] is by far too small for the congregation. It was first built by the people themselves as a preaching shed, sometime after, it was burnt down to ashes by a fire in which others suffered as well; it was rebuilt and improved by the body being made of mud walls and little enlarged; but another accidental fire destroyed the combustible grass thatch; with some assistance from Mr. John it was reroofed, which is now in use. As the minds of this people are now being settled, and a written petition made to me, signed by six of their leading members, as soon as we have completed the new Trinity Church on the Mission premises, I will give order for an enlarged chapel for the Bunu congregation.
On my arrival here, I took Mr. Paul up with me to Eggan Sept. 1st, to assist me in many things, but chiefly that he might be near at hand that I might be able to direct him how to get up the intended Mission station, the site of which was promised me last year by King Umoru after due consideration. Arrived at Eggan on the 3rd. During the interval from the 3rd to the 14th, we had to wait to hear of the King’s arrival, as he had been absent from Bidda on a visit to the Sultan of Gondu in the Hausa country, at the invitation of the Sultan to receive his confirmation as king on the throne of the Nupe Kingdom. Umoru had been , [....] confirmed, and was returning as far as Rabba when the intelligence of the steamer’s arrival at Eggan reached him so he hastened to Rogun, encamped, and invited us thither.
On the morning of the 14th, left Eggan with other mercantile agents in the steam Launch “Anasi” on a visit to the king at Rogun camp some 10 miles inland on the back of Rennell mountains; the whole distance might be about 25 miles from Eggan by land on a straight direction. Halted at Kusogi village landing place in the evening and next morning (the 15th) left for the camp, the king having sent horses the evening before to convey us thither. -- As we intended to make but a short stay here, no time was lost in commencing business and in frequent interviews with the king. After the Government letters were delivered & read the presents given, I presented to the Emir the splendidly bound Arabic Bible, as a gift to him form the Committee of the Church Missionary Society; he was so delighted that he could not disguise his joy before his courtiers who also shared in it with him. I delivered a similar copy to his care which I requested should be sent to Alihu the King of Ilorin, which he faithfully promised to do, and that at no long period, for the messenger of the King of Ilorin was shortly expected at Rogun camp; they are friends.
Though at the camp, King Umoru, to shew how much he appreciated the gift of the Arabic Bible, delivered me a Nupe mat to be given to the great mallam who had sent him the splendid book, as a small token of acknowledgment, and of his appreciation of the book.
I reminded the king of his promise last year that he would take into consideration my request for a place for a mission station on the other side of the river opposite Eggan, which he at once granted saying “Na yirda, na yirda” I will, I will. This summed up the success of my three years attempt to get this place on the slope of Kippo Hill, which being on a highland is dry, healthy, & commands an extensive view of the river below; it is about two miles across right opposite Eggan. The spot selected is about five minutes walk from Kippo village a group of about 40 conical huts close to the slope of the hill near a creek covered with trees which conceal the village from sight.
This creek is the regular landing place for passengers to and from Bidda by land. Katsa, a larger village is about a mile higher up the river when the ivory merchants from Adamawa, Hamaruwa and Kaffi, rested, before canoes, arrive across from Eggan to Kippo village to convey them over. When the water is low and the creek dry, these passengers shall have to pass in front of the intended mission premises, and perhaps rest themselves at the outside till they are crossed over. Isolated as the station may appear to be, from any town or village, yet it will form a most suitable spot for various purposes. For instance for enquiring Mohammedan who would not boldly come forward under the eye and notice of their ignorant bigoted friends, but here he will escape their observation when seeking private instruction. Here a boarding school connected with Industry can be established to advantage as example to Mohammedan school children, who will never work when once they are taught to read and write scraps of the Koran to sell to the people as charms. From this plan one can ride to Bidda in a day and half comfortably without the necessity of a canoe by river, so it is a convenient distance from the capital from which we shall have frequent visitors.
Here there will be ample opportunity for receiving and conversing with the hausa caravans from Adamawa, Hamaruwa & Keffi, and the school which may be established, prove to them a model.
This station will be a sanitarium into which anyone may make a change from the muddy, crowded, and filthy Eggan, for a fresh and salubrious air, 300 or 400 ft above the level of the river. This is a brief description of the Kippo Hill slope intended Mission station, and the advantages anticipated by its occupation.
I have given orders to build some conical huts for immediate use till we can prepare to put up proper square mud wall houses.
With a little inducement, I would have proposed the job to the Emir in which he might employ some of his have-nothing-to-do- people, but as he was going to war and they must go with him I did not propose it. I hope to make arrangements to do something as an earnest beginning by the next visit, nothing hindering us.
Taking into consideration the various advantages which this intended station will hold out to us, I must at this time press the necessity of putting Mr. Schon’s Hausa Vocabulary which has been lying in manuscripts, into print at once, for the use of he Mission, and the mercantile agents in the river; the want of such a book is becoming more and more felt than ever, on many points.
1. We cannot improve on his vocabulary, not knowing what Schon has got, and how much might have been contributed to it from Drs. Barth, Baikie and others. I once sent a collection of some words which I supposed he might not have had, but he wrote back to say he has got them already; whereas if we have the vocabulary in a printed form, we can enrich it to advantage without laboring for nothing going over the same ground again.
2. The putting of such manuscripts into press, while Mr. Schon has health and strength to superintend the correction of the press, and improve on it when printing, will be of double advantage to the work, more so, than if it were transferred into other hands to do it, imperfectly.
3. We want it to assist us to go on with the translations of portions of the Holy Scriptures from where Mr. Schon has stopped; uniformity in orthography in such translation is of utmost importance.
Mr. Schon told me when I was in England last year, that the greatest drawback to the work was pecuniary means; seeing the necessity of the work as I do now, I therefore grant £100 toward its printing, from the West Africa Native Bishopric Fund in hope the deficiency to complete it will be furnished from other quarters.
I could extract from Schons prefatory remarks to his Hausa Grammar printed in 1862. -- Mr. Schon and myself were both connected with the Niger since 1841, now 33 years ago; Eggan, (Egga) was the highest point which that Expedition could reach then, and that with great difficulty and risk and loss of many invaluable lives, since which time, the navigation of the Niger has almost become as easy to those who have worked it for a year or two as any river in Europe, some ships making 8, 9, or 10 trips in the season, deeply laden with cargo and produce to and fro, while in 1841 we made but one trip and that with much difficulty -- Should not we increase the means of working its mission with the experienced aid of surviving agents now active, Mr. Schon, in England to put all his manuscripts into press, while I, in Africa, am preparing to put up a station at Kippo Hill slope, opposite Eggan, where his production the result of the Niger Expedition of 1841 shall be distributed over the country?
Having connected the report of the Upper station, I now take the others in order from the coast.
Bonny Since last Christmas, which was well kept and observed by a large number of churchgoing people, their children, and other heathen friends, the spirit of persecution began to manifest itself on the part of some chiefs, who prohibited their slaves and other dependants, school children excepted, from attending church on pains of heavy fines and severe punishment. On my arrival here in July last, accompanied by all the mission agents, proceeded to Bonny Town and got a meeting of the King and chiefs convened, to know the reason of the severe edict passed against their people attending the house of God, when different charges were alleged against them, namely,
That some of their slaves, who attended church were becoming independent, disobedient, and ungovernable; that when they had cleaned themselves on Sunday to attend divine service, they would no longer obey them, they could not get them to paddle a canoe to the shipping, and that not even would they lift their hand to save a house on Sunday if it were on fire; that when they wanted them to go to the oil market on a Sunday, they could not get any of them to man and paddle a canoe to it on a Sunday; therefore to put a stop to this state of independence, they thought proper to put the restriction. My reply to these charges were short and to the point; that they were very much exaggerated and too sweeping, punishing the innocent with the guilty; that the converts could not be guilty of such apathy and indifference as they were charged with, such as in case of necessity not to paddle a canoe to the shipping or ...[omission .. cut off]
Quotation from Schon’s Hausa Grammar.
“The extent of the territory in which the Hausa is the vernacular language, and the notoriety it has attained among other nations being of much greater importance than the origin of its name, I shall endeavour to exhibit these two subjects at some length, as it will be seen thereby that so much time, labour, and expense, bestowed upon the reduction of this language, have not been misapplied by the Committee of the Church Missionary Society, to whose perseverance and forethought the accomplishment of this present work is attributable. I am convinced that the future - and that probably no distant one - will recognize the hand of Providence in directing attention to the reduction of this language, which is calculated to render it accessible to Missionaries, travellers, and commercial men as the medium of communication with the inhabitants of Central Africa. The territory in which the Hausa is the vernacular language may with some limitation be said to be the Soudan. The Hausas themselves divide their country into seven provinces, generally called “Hausa bokoi:” the names of all the seven I have never been able to ascertain correctly from natives: one or two were sometimes missing, or different names given by different informants. A rivalry for the honour of belonging to them induced some to number their own native countries amongst them; and it was often amusing to witness with what warmth they would argue and stigmatize each other’s countries, as “Banza Hausa,” that is, with Dr. Barth, “Bastard Hausa.” I therefore take the liberty to avail myself of the labours of Barth in quoting the names of seven provinces as recorded by him. They are the following - “Biram, Doura, Gober, Kano, Rano, Katsena, and Zegzeg; and the seven other provinces or countries, in which the Hausa language has spread to a great extent, although it is not the original language of the inhabitants, are, Zanfara, Kebbi, Nupe, Gwari, Youri, Yariba, and Kororofa.” Among the northern provinces, I find in my collections Zinder, and among the western Rabba, and Sokoto, mentioned. A glance at the map in Dr. Barth’s [rurel???] instructive travels will show that the territory in which the Hausa is the vernacular language is of considerable extent, probably greater than that occupied by any other language in Central Africa. It is, moreover, not only in those parts that this language is known and understood, and serving as the medium of communication; it has, from various causes, such as the dispersion of Hausas among other nations, through the slave-trade, the commercial pursuits of the natives of the Soudan, and the beauty of the language itself, become, as it were, to Africa, what the French is to Europe; and that this is no vague assertion of my own will be proved by many undeniable facts, and by the testimonies of travellers. Sierra Leone contains many of every province of Hausa. Near Cape Coast a little village was pointed out to me inhabited by Hausas, and I have met some at the island of Fernando-Po. At Cape Coast, Lander engaged his faithful Paskoe, the Hausa interpreter, with whom he commenced his travels at Badagry: and there is every reason to conclude that the Hausa language has been the only medium of communication and intercourse with people, chiefs, and kings, from Badagry to Borgou, Rabba, Boosa, Yaouri, Egga, and down the Niger to the Ibo country. No native words are found in Lander’s three interesting volumes except such as are Hausa, and the author himself very frequently refer to the extent of the Hausa language. “It is understood,” he says, “by the generality of the natives of Borgou, both young and old, almost as well as their mother tongue, and it is spoken by the majority of them with considerable fluency” At Gunga only it was that even the Hausa language was not understood. I can corroborate the above statement from my own experience and observation in the River Niger as far as Eggan.
Leaving the west for the present, and passing over the above mentioned seven provinces to the north, it is most gratifying to find that it has there also spread far and wide, and obtained the same notoriety as in the west, every traveller bearing testimony to this fact. Clapperton’s incidental allusions to the importance of the Hausa language are numerous. Overweg congratulate the Expedition in having met with an interpreter who was master of Afnu, that is, the Hausa language. Barth, writing to Professor Lepsius from Ai-Salah, speaks of the absolute necessity of mastering the Hausa language, and of his inability on that account to pay much attention to the Tuareg, observing that it was the less to be regretted since all Asbeniawas spoke the Hausa and used it even more generally than the Targid. Numerous allusions to the paramount importance of this language from barth’s correspondence and Travels might be quoted; but as the philological labours of that accomplished scholar may shortly be expected, I would rather refer the reader to his own statement, being convinced that my observations will be confirmed by him.
Dorugu, whom I shall introduce shortly, speaks (in the interesting narrative of his life and travels) of meeting Hausas everywhere from Kukawa to Tripoli, and in the last-mentioned place he met liberated Hausas in great numbers, inhabiting a separate village, and desirous of returning to their own country if they could obtain the means of doing so. On the steamer from Tripoli to Malta he met Hausas, from whom he learnt that there were many of their nation to be found in Egypt, and even in Stanbul, or Constantinople, and the very same thing I was told at Sierra Leone by a traveller, who had visited those parts, by the name of Ari babaribari.
With a view to ascertain whether Hausa was known in the countries along the Tshadda, from the confluence of that river and the Niger, I consulted Crowther; and found that from the Confluence to Hamaruwa, a distance of three hundred miles, the Hausa was understood, and of immense service to the Expedition. But Crowther’s own summary, in the Appendix, speaks so entirely the conviction of my own mind, that I cannot do better than to quote his own words. “The Hausa,” (after enumerating twelve languages in which the Bible ought to be translated,) he says, “is the most important of all: it is the commercial language of Central Africa..
At Oru, in the Delta, we already commenced meeting with solitary opportunities of communicating with the people through Hausa slaves. From Abo we engaged a Hausa interpreter, who was very serviceable to us through-out the expedition. At Idda we found that the Hausa language was becoming more generally spoken by the inhabitants; salutaions in that language generally sounded in our ears. At Igbegbe, near the confluence, the Hausa is one of the prevailing languages spoken by the mixed population of that market town, and it is the chief medium of communication in commercial transactions, though Igbira is the language of the place.
“At Yimaha in the Igbira country, at Oruku in the Bassa country, at Doma, also among the hitherto unknown Mitshis, among the inhabitants of the extensive Kororofa and with the Fulanis of Hamaruwa, the Hausa language was the chief medium of communication, both with the chiefs and with the people whom we visited during the late Expedition; and I was told that the knowledge of Hausa will bring anyone to Mecca. From Igara and upwards, though each language must ultimately be learnt, and translations be made into it; there can be no doubt that a good translation into Hausa language, for the general use of travelling Missionaries among the nations above mentioned, will be of inestimable advantage. This language seems to be destined by God to be the general medium of imparting the knowledge of Christianity, to a very great extent, among the nations by whom it is spoken, when we take into consideration the Hausa themselves, of Kano, Katsina, Zanfara, and other tribes speaking the language as their own.
All the Mohammedans understand and speak the Hausa language, and through it the Koran is explained and interpreted in their own mosques through-out Yoruba; so that from Lagos, Badagry, and Porto Novo, and upwards to the Niger, where Mohammedans are found, the Hausa language is spoken by them. Now, if we glance at the map, it will at once be seen to what extent the language is spoken, and how generally useful a knowledge of it is likely to be. I may suggest, therefore, that the reduction of the Hausa language is of very great importance, especially if there is any probability of annual visits to the Niger and Binue by steam vessels, for the purpose of commerce, and even if no attempt can yet be made to commence Missionary operations about the confluence of the Kwora and Tshadda. Such translations will be of general use among whatever tribes, the travellers go.
Schon’s Vocabulary needs to be revised and improved: I shall be ready to contribute what I have now in possession towards such improvements when required.” [.............. cut off.....omission]