Travels in Africa - Park Denham, Clapperton, Lander, and Others

Before the commencement of the present century, little more was known respecting the original inhabitants of Southern Africa than what we have thus generally indicated. But in 1801, two gentlemen, Messrs. Trutter and Somerville, made an excursion to a considerable distance beyond the districts of the Bushmans and the Caffres, whom Mr. Barrow had visited, and discovered a large river, now called Orange River, flowing westward into the Atlantic. The banks of this river they found inhabited by a pastoral tribe called the Koranes; and the information they received from this people inducing them to continue their journey still farther to the north, they at last reached what not a little surprised them a city or town of two or three thousand houses, very neatly built, and well-arranged. The name of this city was Lattakoo; and the accounts which the travelers brought back of it to the Cape, and of the friendliness with which they had been received by the Boshuanas, who were then the prevalent tribe, induced the government to send Dr. Cowan and Lieutenant Denovan to continue the discovery, and, if possible, make their way past Lattakoo, so as ultimately to reach Mozambique on the east coast. The issue of this expedition was unfortunate. The travelers reached Lattakoo in safety, but were killed at a distance of eleven days' journey beyond it. The same route was afterwards pursued by Dr. Henry Lichtenstein, who added considerably to the knowledge then possessed of this part of Africa. But the most enterprising traveler in these regions was Mr. John Campbell, a missionary, who, animated with an eager desire to spread Christianity among the rude Hottentots and Caffres, undertook a journey for that purpose in 1813. He reached Lattakoo, made known the object of his visit to Mateebe, king of the Boshuanas, and, after some importunacy, obtained leave to establish a missionary station in the capital. Having succeeded in the object of his expedition, Mr. Campbell returned, but made a second journey to Lattakoo in 1820. He found the missionary establishment in active operation, but little progress had been made in converting the natives, who manifested the most profound indifference on the subject of religion. Mr. Campbell now penetrated beyond Lattakoo, and came among tribes till then unknown, some of them showing a considerable advance in the arts of life, inhabiting neat villages, cultivating the ground, smelting iron and copper, and manufacturing various implements. He also came upon the borders of an immense desert, which, from its appearance, and the information which he was enabled to collect respecting it, he thought entitled to be named the Southern Sahara, as rivaling in extent the Great Northern Desert. Whether, as he was led to imagine, this Desert stretches from the tropic of Capricorn, where he saw its extremity, to the equator, is a point which can only be settled by farther discovery; but the supposition does not appear probable.

Subsequently to Mr. Campbell's journey, these regions have been visited by other travelers, who have made us better acquainted with the tribes of the South Cape, by giving us details of their customs and manner of life. The latest of these is Mr. Robert Moffat, likewise a missionary. The general conclusion, from the accounts of these various travelers, seems to be, that the southern extremity of Africa is inhabited by two principal races - the Hottentots, who, both physically and intellectually, are far inferior to the average of mankind; and the Caffres, a bold and savage, but promising race, resembling in their general features the natives of other parts of Africa, and divided into a number of tribes, who inhabit villages scattered through the country which borders on the Southern Desert.