By E. A. Ayandele
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Additional info for African Historical Studies
8 Mungo Park Papers, Mungo Park to Dr Anderson, 10 November 1804. 9 The best account is Philip Curtin, Image of Africa (British Ideas and Action 1780–1850), London, 1965. 10 Mungo Park Papers (MS581), Mungo Park to Dr Thomas Anderson, 26 April 1805. , Walter Scott to Editor of Park’s Journals, 24 April 1815. 12 See the portions on these explorers by various authors in Rotberg, op. cit. 13 Richard Baxter, Christian Directory, quoted on p. 18 of Theophilus Vincent, ‘Changing concepts of the Negro in English Literature with special reference to the period 1700–1807’, unpublished PhD thesis, Ibadan University, 1967.
In Kano both Eleaji and Sidi Ali, sons of a former Sultan of Fezzan, served as unpaid mediators between Barth and the Emir of Kano. The crucial importance of the human factor in Barth’s diplomatic manoeuvres is best illustrated in the services rendered to Barth by El Walati from Libtako to Timbuktu. El Walati was a clever Arab well 48 AFRICAN HISTORICAL STUDIES known to the Tuareg inhabitants between Libtako and Timbuktu, and he was a very important person in Timbuktu and an intimate friend of Sheik El Bakay, the paramount ruler of the town.
Hence the following observation of Mungo Park’s: Some of the religious opinions of the Negroes, though blended with the weakest credulity and superstition, are not unworthy of attention. 52 Imagine what benefits would have been derived by Africans and white men if Christian missionaries in Africa had attempted to understand these and other aspects of African traditional religion; imagine the conflicts and misunderstanding that would have been avoided in Afrowhite relations if the religion of the Africans had not been dismissed with levity by the conquerors and colonial governors as ‘pagan’ or ‘fetish’!