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Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 2
Under the Orders and at the Expense of Her Majesty's Government

written by "Richardson, James, 1806-1851"
...r, cotton, and indigo are grown. These are the staple products of the gardens in this part of Africa. The women have always something to occupy their time, suckling their children, fetching water, cooking, or else picking cotton. All the males, I imagine, at some[291] seasons of the year, find occupation, when the ghaseb is sown and when reaped. But, nevertheless, what powerfully solicits the observation of the European in looking into these villages is the downright livelong idleness of the male population. We begin, at length, to regard this region merely as the nursery-ground of slavery—of the system which takes away the idlers to perform their share of the curse pronounced on Adam, that in the sweat of his brow he should eat and earn his bread. Again it is to be observed, that the wants of these people are very few: they live on ghaseb and milk, eating little meat; these come to them almost without labour. The ground is tilled by burning the stubble of the previous year, or by burning the trees on new land. The seed is thrown in when the rain begins, and nothing more is done till the grain is ripe for the sickle, when it is gathered in. It is collected under small sheds made of matting, and eaten as it is wanted. The cattle are mostly driven to graze and to water, and this is all the attention they require. The cotton furnishes a scanty clothing, deemed sufficient; all the children go naked till they are ten years old, or only wear a piece of cotton, leather, or a skin round their loins. The men of some consequence buy a tobe brought from Kanou or Niffee; the women purchase a few beads and other ornaments with their fowls or ghaseb. The bowls or household utensils are made from[292] gourds, in shape like a cucumber, but straight, with a knob at the end; they are slit in two, and thus form two spoons, the concave head of the gourd serving as the bowl, the other part as the handle. These calabashes, some of which are ...

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