Traditional African Sports and Games:Part 2

By Michael Nakasissa
Updated: February 9, 2006

Timbuctoo Sport and Games

Timbuctoo Sport and Games

The king has 500 or 600 horses his stables are in the enclosure; the saddles have a peak before, but none behind. He frequently hunts the antelope, wild ass, ostrich, and an animal, which, from Shabeeny’s description, appears to be the wild cow of Africa. The wild ass is very fleet, and when closely pursued kicks back the earth and sand in the eyes of his pursuers. They have the finest greyhounds in the world, with which they hunt only the antelope for the dogs are not able to overtake the ostrich. Shabeeny has often hunted with the king; any person may accompany him. Sometimes he does not return for three or four days: he sets out always after sunrise. Whatever is killed in the chase is divided among the Strangers and other company present; but those animals which are taken alive are sent to the king’s palace. He goes to bunt towards the desert, and does not begin till distant ten miles from the town. The antelopes are found in herds of from thirty to sixty. He never saw an antelope, wild ass, or ostrich alone, but generally in large droves. The ostriches, like the storks, place sentinels upon the watch: thirty yards are reckoned a distance for a secure shot with the bow. The king always shoots on horseback, as do many of his courtiers, sometimes with muskets, but oftener with bows. The king takes a great many tents with himThey play at chess and draughts, and are very expert at those games: they have no cards; but they have tumblers, jugglers, and ventriloquists, whose voice appears to come from under the armpits.

Note:Shabeni was a merchant from Tetuan who was captured and ended up in England where he told his story of how as a child of 14, around 1787, he had gone with his father to Timbuktu.