1902 Encyclopedia > Africa > African Tribes. Mandingoes. Wolofs. Foulahs. Ashanti. Congo. Wamasai. Wakwavi. Galla. Somali.

(Part 24)


(k) African Tribes. Mandingoes. Wolofs. Foulahs. Wamasai. Wakwavi. Galla. Somali.

The principal Negro nations, as we know them are the
Mandingoes, who are numerous, powerful, and not uncivilized, in Senegambia, and farther inland, around the head waters of the Quorra, where they have established a great number of kingdoms and smaller sovereignties. The inland trade is chiefly in their hands. They are black, with a mixture of yellow, and their hair is completely woolly. The Wolofs or Yolofs, whose language is totally different from those of their neighbours, are the handsomest and blackest of all Negroes, although they live at a greater distance from the equator than most of the other black tribes, their principal dwelling-places being between the Senegal and the Gambia, along the coast of the Atlantic. They are a mild and social people. The Foulahs or Fellatash occupy the central parts of Soudan, situated in the crescent formed by the course of the Quorra, and also large tracks to the south-east, as far as the equator west to the Senegal, and east till beyond Lake Chad. Their colour, as a rule, is black, inter-mixed, however, with a striking copper hue, some of them being hardly more dark than gypsies. They are one of the most remarkable nations in Africa, very industrious, live in commodious and clean habitations, and are mostly Mohammedans. A distinction was formerly made between the Foulahs of Senegambia and the Fellatahs of Central Africa, but it has since been ascertained that they belong to the same stock, and speak the same language. The hair of the Foulahs is much less woolly than that of other Negroes. Of the principal nations in Guinea, among whom the true Negro type is particularly distinct, especially around the Bight of Benin, are the Feloops, near the Casamanca, very black, yet handsome; and the Ashanti, of the Amina race, who surpass all their neighbours in civilization, and the cast of whose features differs so much from the Negro type that they are said to be more like Indians than Africans; although this is perhaps only true of the higher orders. They are still in possession of a powerful kingdom. The country behind the Slave Coast is occupied by tribes akin to the Dahomeh on the coast. In South Guinea we meet three principal races, namely, the Congo, the Abunda, and the Benguela Negroes, who are divided into a variety of smaller tribes, with whom we are much less acquainted than with the northern Negroes, although the Portuguese have occupied this coast for upwards of the three centuries. The Wamasai and Wakwavi, possibly of Abyssinian stock, are a remarkable race of wild nomad hunters, who occupy the high plateau which rises between the coast-land and the Victoria Nyanza, extending from the equator southward to the route which leads from Zanzibar to the Tanganyika Lake. They are the terror of the more settled inhabitants of the surrounding countries, and occasionally make raids down even to the coast-land behind Mombas. The next great branch of the Ethiopic race comprehends the Galla, who occupy an immense tract in Eastern Africa, from Abyssinia as far as the fourth degree of S. latitude, on the coast inward from Mombas. Our knowledge of them is chiefly confined to those Gallas who conquered Abyssinia. With regard to their physical conformation, they stand between the Negro of Guinea and the Arab and Berber. Their countenances are rounder than those of the Arabs, their noses are almost straight, and their hair, though strongly frizzled, is not so woolly as that of the Negro, nor are their lips quite so thick. Their eyes are small (in which they again differ from the Abyssinians), deeply set, but very lively. They are a strong, large, almost bulky people, whose colour varies between black and brownish, some of their women being remarkably fair, considering the race they belong to. An interesting tribe of them has lately been brought to the knowledge of Europeans, the Somali, originally Arabs, who have advanced from the southern shores of the Gulf of Aden since the 15th century, and now occupy the greater portion of the East African promontory wedging into the Galla region, and almost dividing that country into two distinct portions. For the most part they pursue a wandering and pastoral life.

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