Eugen Zintgraff

Nord Kamerun, Berlin, Gebruder Paetel, 1895, Pages 314-6.

[Zintgraff (1889) returned from a fruitless visit to Yola via Gashaka and Takum where he asked for guides to 'Bafut' and was taken, of course, to 'Bafum']

"On the third day we encountered a larger Hausa caravan, coming from Bafum. Their carriers, men and women, were heavily loaded with kola nuts and ivory. The appearance of this caravan rather startled me as in Bafut we had heard nothing of such, and nobody in Bali had heard of Hausa caravans coming Bafut. Moreover we had been told repeatedly that many years previously the Bafut chief had had 'whitemen', i.e. light-coloured Hausa or Fulani, who had come to trade, ambushed and murdered on their return journey. Anyway, we were now near our goal. It was remarkable - in this region some 1300m above sea level - how the cold winds in this season blew with unusual force, driving the rain into our faces, so that the Hausa, coming from the warmer Benue plains, were chilled to the bone and began to cry like children.

The first villages reached after 8 days tough walking evinced by their lay-out that we had reached real Grassland tribes - but these were Bafum villages, while we were supposedly making for Bafut. In Guanasse*, as it was called, we again met a few Hausa and here we parted from Yakubu's guide. As Madugu had once done, he raised up his arms and prayed to Allah for a further fortunate journey for us.

On that day we camped in a reedy valley since the Chief of Bafum wished to greet us next day in the main village.

The land was well cultivated. The villages with their cultivations were mostly close to small streams. The kola seems to be deliberately planted since each isolated hamlet had one or more of such trees nearby.

The numerous spear-armed Bafum, if a little taken aback by our arrival, were nevertheless well disposed, begged for things with energy and charged high prices for everything. We stayed a day with them to rest and look for a guide. We did not understand their language and it was a piece of luck that a man who spoke Bali turned up. He was a Bali native, who had for some reason or another, years ago, run away to Bafut and had been sold to Bafum from there. This slave, Fon by name and with a squint to distinguish him, urged me to ask his chief for him as a guide - as was agreed, though only as far as the last Bafum village. Mr Fon, however, had a further plan, useful to me, namely that by joining us he could escape from his masters.

On the march in the next day two of my people died from the exhaustion and undernourishment suffered during our travels. I was obliged to leave their bodies in a cave as the inhabitants would not allow me to bury them, burial in the ground being reserved to freemen and warriors; all my arguments were fruitless. Fon, who now began to see himself once more as a real Bali, could not contain himself, saying these people were pig-headed, prejudiced and narrow-minded folk, regular Bakonguan ("bushmen") in fact.

The neighbourhood was increasingly mountainous though the valleys intersecting it were very fertile...."

[Deng - Iden, Din - was reached two days after 'Bafum' was left, and involved a steep climb....
Zintgraff noted the smoke arising from the charcoal burners' fires in the surrounding forests.]

* It is tempting to identify Guanasse with Nggunasu, a settlement which, in 1960, was included in the Su-Bum group of quarters, though one local tradition has Zintgraff camping in a quarter of Fonfuka.

Glossary Contents Working Notes
Sally Chilver's Field Diary Phyllis Kaberry Fieldnotes Bibliography

For further information contact Ian Fowler