The Periplus of Hanno/Chapter 5

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The Periplus of Hanno by Wilfred Harvey Schoff
The "Burning Country" of §§ 14-16


Mungo Park (Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa. London, 1799: Chap, xx), thus describes the burning of the grass in the dry season in Senegambia:

"The termination of the rainy season is likewise attended with violent tornadoes; after which the wind shifts to the northeast, and continues to blow from that quarter during the rest of the year. . , . The grass soon becomes dry and withered, the rivers subside very rapidly, and many of the trees shed their leaves. . . . This wind, in passing over the great desert of Sahara, acquires a very strong attraction for humidity, and parches up everything exposed to the current. . . . Whenever the grass is sufficiently dry, the Negroes set it on fire; but in Ludamar and other Moorish countries this practice is not allowed, for it is on the withered stubble that the Moors feed their cattle until the return of the rains. The burning of the grass in Manding exhibits a scene of terrific grandeur. In the middle of the night, I could see the plains and mountains, as far as my eye could reach, variegated with lines of fire; and the light reflected on the sky made the heavens appear in a blaze. In the daytime pillars of smoke were seen in every direction; while the birds of prey were observed hovering round the conflagration and pouncing down upon the snakes, lizards, and other reptiles, which attempted to escape from the flames. This annual burning is soon followed by a fresh and sweet verdure, and the country is thereby rendered more healthful and pleasant."

See also a paper by Dr. Walther Busse in Mitteilungen aus der Deutschen Schutzgehieten, 1908, No. 2, reviewed in the Geographical Journal for October, 1908.

The Periplus of Hanno - Native method of clearing the ground for the planting of crops.png

Native method of clearing the ground for the planting of crops, still in general use in West Africa.
(See text, §§ 13-17, and note, p. 13.)