National Geographic : 1934 Jan
THREE-WHEELING THROUGH AFRICA Photograph by James C. Wilson NATIVES FERRIED THE TRAVELERS ACROSS THE KADUNA Dugout canoes 40 to 60 feet long may be seen on the larger rivers of Nigeria. They are propelled sometimes by poles, sometimes by paddles. Bronze, however, has been worked by the West African natives for a long time. Back in Jebba we saw two big bronze jujus, or idols, which, according to the na tives, date from several hundred years ago. A presumptuous British district officer once thought he would like them as sou venirs. He got as far as Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the way home, and it is to the credit of his country that he was required to disembark, personally escort his prizes back to Jebba, and replace them in their shrine on the summit of the Juju Rock, in the middle of the Niger, under the disapproving supervision of the populace. But the most characteristic African metal is iron, which is widely distributed over large areas in ores so rich that it can be extracted by the simplest methods. The early African, after learning the use of fire, could scarcely have escaped the discovery of the smelting process. Iron-working is to-day perhaps the most common African craft, and there are whole tribes who make their living by that industry. However, with the advent of the white man, the native gradually turns from the smelter, loom, and dye pot to less inspired pursuits, whose products he can swap for imported bangles. The raising of cocoa and groundnuts is honorable enough, but any crass barbarian can wrap himself up in a Manchester print and swill palm wine from a shiny tin cup! The average African, like many others, does not realize that creating, not possessing, is the essence of culture. As we pushed steadily inland, the steam ing, rain-soaked forests gradually gave way to a region of rolling, partly wooded grass lands, or savannas, and, contrary to our expectations, the trail improved decidedly. There were even signs, in places, that some one had been over it quite recently by motorcar. KANO, THE CROSSROAD CITY Zungeru, Birnin Gwari, Zaria, and within ten days after bidding Bida good-bye we clattered up to a halt in front of the big mud wall that surrounds Kano, metropolis of northern Nigeria, and end of the first lap of our trip. We were now 705 rail miles inland, or about 750 the way we traveled, and still we had approximately 3,200 miles yet to go (see pages 44, 52).