After discovering Lake Albert N’Yanza, the Bakers camped near Vacovia, a village next to the lake, in order to prepare boats and supplies for their trip down the lake to the White Nile. As usual, Baker’s descriptions are graphic, as are his detailing of food and produce.
His descriptions of salt production are similar to those already posted, helping to verify the critical importance of salt as both an enterprise as well as part of an extensive trade network.
Baker – The Albert N’Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile
Vacovia was a miserable place, and the soil was so impregnated with salt, that no cultivation was possible. Salt was the natural product of the country; and the population were employed in its manufacture, which constituted the business of the lake shores–being exchanged for supplies from the interior.
… I went to examine the pits (near the lake, in which salt is made): These were about six feet deep, from which was dug a black sandy mud that was placed in large earthenware jars; these were supported upon frames, and mixed with water, which filtering rapidly through small holes in the bottom, was received in jars beneath: this water was again used with fresh mud until it became a strong brine, when it was boiled and evaporated.
The salt was white, but very bitter. I imagine that it has been formed by the decay of aquatic plants that have been washed ashore by the waves; decomposing, they have formed a mud deposit, and much potash is combined with the salt.
At Eppigoya the best salt was produced, and we purchased a good supply–also some dried fish; thus we had already purchased large supplies.
Our livestock bothered us dreadfully; being without baskets, the fowls were determined upon suicide, and many jumped deliberately overboard, while others that were tied by the legs were drowned in the bottom of the leaky canoe.