1902 Encyclopedia > Africa > States of Central Africa

(Part 33)


(e) States of Central Africa

Central Africa comprises the regions which extend from the southern borders of the Sahara in the north to Cape Colony in the south, and from Senegambia in the west to the territory of the Egyptian pashalic on the east. It comprehends the central basins of the great lakes from Lake Chad to the Nyassa, and the greater part of the basins of the Niger, Congo, Nile and Zambeze. Even the Sahara may well be included in this general denomination. So little is yet known of this vast region that the general features of some portions only can be indicated. The greater portion seems to be densely peopled with numerous tribes, and to possess inexhaustible natural resources. The portion north of the equator, under the name Soudan or Nigritia, comprises a great number of states, among which the principal are Bambarra. Timbuktu, and Houssa, in the west; Bornu, Baghermi, and Waday, around Lake Chad; Darfur in the east; and Adamaua in the south. The inhabitants are of Negro race, with many Arabs, Moors, and Berbers.

Bambarra occupies part of the basin of the Joliba, or upper source of the Quorra. The dominant inhabitants are the Mandingoes and Foulahs, who have embraced Islamism, and are much more advanced in civilization than the other Negro tribes. The country comprises extensive and excellent pastures, with abundance of domestic animals, as horned cattle, sheep, goats, and horses of a fine breed. Among the vegetable products the most remarkable is the butter-tree, which furnishes an important article of agricultural industry and trade.

Sego, the capital, is situated on the Joliba, and contains 30,000 inhabitants. It was here that Mungo Park first caught sight of the long-sought river.

Timbuktu, or Jennie, comprises the basin of the Joliba below Bambarra and lies partly within the great Sahara. Timbuktu, a few miles from the banks of the Joliba, and situated amid sands and deserts, is a celebrated centre of the North African caravan trade. It contains from 12,000 to 15,000 inhabitants.

Houssa is an extensive country extending to the Sahara in the north, to the Joliba or Kawara on the west, to Bornu on the east, and to about 10° N. lat. on the south. The dominant race are the Foulahs, but the mass of the population are Negroes. It is a very fertile and beautiful country, but the climate is insalubrious, and in many parts fatal to Europeans. The inhabitants are engaged in pastoral, as well as in agricultural and commercial pursuits.

The capital, Sakatu, is one of the largest cities in Negro-land; it is situated in a fertile but marshy plain. Kano, another large town, containing 30,000 to 40,000 inhabitants, is the great emporium of trade in Houssa; there the English merchandise coming from the north through the Sahara, meets with American goods coming from the Bight and Benin. The manufactures of Kano consist chiefly of cloth, for the dyeing of which that town is famed all over Central Africa.

Bornu is one of the most powerful states of Negroland; extending on the west to the 10th degree of long., on the east to Lake Chad and the kingdom of Baghermi, and on the south as far as Mandara and Adamaua, in about 11° N. lat. Kanem, on the northern side of Lake Chad, has recently been conquered and brought under Bornuese sovereignty.

The general character of Bornu is that of a plain, subject to inundations, particularly near Lake Chad. It is very fertile, and cotton and indigo attain a high degree of excellence. The original Bornuese are an agricultural people.

Kuka, the capital and residence of the Sheik of Bornu, had in 1866 about 60,000 inhabitants.

Baghermi, another powerful kingdom, is situated east of Bornu. The noundaries, according to Dr Barth, who first visited this country and penetrated as far as Mesena, the capital, are on the west the river Loggeme, a tributary of the Shary or asu, by which it is divided from Bornu and Adamaua; on the north its limits are in about 12 1/2 ° N. lat., and on the east 19 1/2 ° E. long., both lines dividing it from Waday; the southern boundary is in about 8 ° N. lat Baghermi is an extensive plain or valley formed by the river Shary or Asu and its tributaries. The inhabitants are very warlike, and frequently engage in slave marauding expeditions into the neighbouring states to the south.

Masena, the capital, lies in 11° 40' N. lat., and 17° 20' E. long.

Waday, or Dar Saley, lies east of Baghermi, and reaches as far as Darfur. It comprises an extensive region, stretching as far as the basin of the Nile. Lake Fittri, situated in the western portion, forms a basin, unconnected with that of Lake Chad, and by which the country as far as Darfur is drained. It has never been explored by Europeans. The population comprises a great variety of tribes and different languages.

Wara, the capital, is placed by Dr. Barth in 14o N. lat., and 22o E. long.

Darfur, east of Waday extends as far as Korofan. The country rises towards the west into a range of hills called Jebel Marrah. It is drained into the Nile. A great portion of the country is Saharan in its character, while other parts are fertile and diversified. Browne, in 1703, estimated the whole population at 200,000. it has an extensive trade with Egypt.

Cobbeih, the capital, is a merchant, town, and contains about 6000 inhabitants.

Fumbina or Adamaua is an extensive country south of Houssa and Bornu, under Foulah dominion. It consists of a large, fertile, and highly-cultivated valley, formed by the River Bene. Near Yola, the capital, the Benue receives the Faro, a large tributary coming from the south-west. This country was first visited by Dr. Barth in 1851.

Yola, the cpital, lies in 8° 50' N. lat., and 13° 30' E. longitude.

South of the belt of Negro states of the Soudan lies the great unknown region of central Africa. On the east the unexposed area is bounded by the numerous states of the lake region made known by Burton, Speke, and Livingstone. Of these the chief are Unyamwesi, occupying the plateay south of the Victoria Lake, and east of Lake Tanganyika, with the capital town of Kaseh or Tabora, frequented by Arab traders from Zanzibar; Karague on the western side of the Victoria Nyanza; and Uganda, stretching round its north-western shores. In the interior, beyond Lake Tanganyika, Livingstone has recently made known the peoples of Manyuema land, where "there is no political cohesion; not one king or kingdom. Each man is independent of every other." To the south of the unknown region are the powerful Negro kingdoms of the Muata Yanvo and of the Cazembe, occupying the whole of the interior between 6° and 12° S. lat. Kabebe, the capital of the former state, is believed to be in about lat. 8° S., long. 23° 30' E. of Greenwich; and Lunda, the chief town of the latter potentate, is in the Luapula valley, south-west of the Tanganyika Lake, and was visited by Livingstone in 1867-68. The Makololo kingdom, occupying the central basin of the Zambeze river, with the chief town of Linyanti, west of the Victoria Falls; and that of Mosilikatse in the south-east, between the Zambeze and the Limpopo rivers, are the great remaining divisions of central Africa. Besides these, however, innumerable petty kingdoms, chiefships, and tribes subdivide the vast populations of Negroland.

Read the rest of this article:
Africa - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries