Flora Louise Shaw Lugard.

A tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria online

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3 1822 02605 9733

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3 1822 02605 9733



An Outline of the Ancient
History of the Western Soudan
with an Account of the Modern
Settlement of Northern Nigeria






Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
At the Ballantyne Press





I. Introductory

II. Conquest of North Ap^rica and Spain by the

III. Arab Civilisation in Spain

IV. The Empire of "The Two Shores".
V. African Rule in Spain ....

VI. Decline of Mohammedan Power in Spain
VII. Spanish Arabs in Africa ....
VIII. The Soudanese States ....
IX. Negroland and the Western Arabs

X. Berber and Black

XL The Trade of Ghana ....

XII. Morabite Conquest of the Soudan .

XIII. Ghana and Timbuctoo ....

XIV. The Mellestine

XV. Mansa Musa

XVI. Ibn Batuta in Melle ....

XVII. Administration of the Mellestine .
XVIII. Meeting of Eastern and Western Influence upon
the Niger ......

XIX. Rise of the Songhay Empire ...
XX. Military Conquests of Sonni Ali .
XXI. AsKiA Mohammed Abou Bekr ...
XXII. Songhay under Askia the Great

XXIII. Songhay under Askia the Great {conti7iued)

XXIV. The Later Askias

XXV. Ancient Connection of Haussaland with

Valley of the Nile ....
XXVI. The Pharaohs in Haussaland .
XXVII. The Haussa States .....
XXVIII. The Domination of Kano













21 1






XXIX. Haussaland to the End of the Eighteenth Cen-
tury .......


XXXI. Condition of the Soudan at the End of the

Sixteenth Century ....
XXXII. The Moorish Conquest ....

XXXIII. The Soudan under the Moors

XXXIV. The Soudan Closed to the Western World
XXXV. Europe in West Africa ....

XXXVI. The European Slave Trade .
XXXVII. England and France on the Lower Niger
XXXVIII. The Royal Niger Company .
XXXIX. Transfer of Niger Company's Territories to th
Crown ......

XL. Origin of the Fulani ....

XLI. Rise of the Fulani in the Soudan
XLII. Sultan Bello ......

XLIII. Northern Nigeria under Fulani Rule

XLIV. Sla\'E-raiding

XLV. The Establishment of British Administration
XLVI. Military Occupation of the Southern Emirates

and Bornu .....

XLVII. Conquest of Sokoto and Kano
XLVIII. British Policy in Northern Nigeria .
XLIX. Nigeria under British Rule : Slavery .
L. Nigeria under British Rule : Taxation
LI. Nigeria under British Rule: Justice and Gene
RAL Reorganisation ....
LII. Economic Resources of Northern Nigeria
LI II. The Development of Trade .


















It has become the habit of the British mind to think of
the British Empire as a white empire. But, as a matter of
fact, we all know that ours is not a white empire. Out
of an estimated population of 413,000,000, only 52,000,000,
or one In eight, are white. Out of a territory of 16,000,000
square miles, which extends ^^eK,^ quarter of the globe,
about 4,000,000 square mile^^<?br a^yarter of the whole,
lies within the tropics. r o » /

The administration <^ jtMs^goarter of the Empire
cannot be conducted on the ^uirciple of self-government
as that phrase is underwood J^ white men. It must be
more or less in the natureVn" an autocracy which leaves
with the rulers full responsibility for the prosperity of the
ruled. The administration of India, where this aspect of
the question has been long appreciated, is among the
successes of which the British people is most justly proud.
The work done by England in Egypt is another proof
of our capacity for autocratic rule. We are justified
therefore In thinking of ourselves as a people who may
face with reasonable hopes of success still vaster questions
of tropical administration.

We stand now at an interesting moment in our history.
The most pressing questions which are connected with
the self-governing colonies would seem to have been
settled ; attention and interest are set free to turn them-
selves towards other channels ; and simultaneously with



this liberation of public sympathy the direction of a new
development is indicated by circumstances of almost
irresistible significance.

Within the last five-and-twenty years we have acquired
in tropical Africa alone territories of which the area
exceeds by one-half the whole extent of British India.
These, and othtr colonies and dependencies which lie
within the tropics, now call for some of the same
care and attention which have helped to make India
what it is.

In nearly all the tropical colonies there is much fertile
land which already produces some of the most necessary
and valuable raw materials of trade. Cotton, silk, rice,
rubber, sugar, coffee, tea, oils, drugs, dyes and spices, gold
and gems, and other important elements of civilised
industry, are home, products of our tropics. But in very
few of the colonies have these products been developed to
anything approaching the natural capacity of their sources
of origin. In many parts of the colonies the resources of
nature have not been cultivated at all. Valuable com-
modities produce themselves and grow wild — unsown,
unreaped. The increase which might result to British
trade by a mere opening of the markets that lie as yet
unapproached within the Empire, is past calculation.
Such opening would necessarily be reciprocal in its action,
and every market of supply over which our administration
extended would automatically become a market of con-
sumption for manufactured goods. At home the very
prosperity of our trade creates a demand for expansion.
And these potential markets are our own. We may do
as we will within them.

The cultivation of our tropical lands involves, we are
sometimes told, questions of transport and labour which
are too difficult to touch. Of these the question of
transport within the limits of our own colonies and
protectorates is very largely a question of money, and
its difficulties may easily be made to disappear whenever
a real demand for transport shall arise. The question of


labour is more serious. Tropical labour is coloured labour,
and we have not yet faced the question of organising free
coloured labour. But that this question has not yet been
faced is not a reason why the difficulties attending it
should be regarded as insurmountable. They must be
reckoned among the most interesting problems of tropical

The industrial development of ancient civilisations was
largely based on slavery, and, from the earliest periods
of which history has any record, countries lying within
the tropics — always prolific of population — were raided to
supply the slave-markets of the world. It was thought
worth while in the great days of Egypt, Persia, Greece,
Rome, and mediaeval Spain, to be at the expense of
sending caravans into the Soudan for slaves, who had
to be hunted and caught in the tropical regions further
south. Notwithstanding the cost of the overland journey,
the expense and waste of slave-hunting, and the large
percentage of deaths which occurred in transit, the labour
of Africa was considered valuable enough to be worth
transporting to any market in which it was required. The
trade was continued through the Middle Ages, and under
modern conditions of steam shipping and travelling it was
still found worth while less than fifty years ago to carry
African labour to America.

We have abolished slavery, and, as a consequence, it
has been assumed that the labour which once supplied
the great industries of the world has ceased to have any

This is a curious anomaly, for which, however, many
explanatory reasons might be produced. Coloured labour,
without the control which the master exercises over the
slave, has its peculiar difficulties. In the face of them
the civilised communities of the Western world have
abandoned the use of coloured labour, and the intro-
duction of industrial and agricultural machinery, which
began almost coincidently with the abolition of slavery,
has minimised the consequences of the loss. The fact


is not altered that African labour had through many-
ages of the world's history a very high marketable value.
That this labour still exists, that it is native to an im-
mense area of the tropical colonies, and that it will
rapidly increase in volume under the conditions of peace
and security introduced by British administration, are
factors of great importance in considering the possible
development of the resources of these colonies. To
construct a bridge between the old system of civilisation
and the new, by finding means to organise as free labour
the labour which preceding generations could only use
enslaved, would be to lead the way in a very sensible
advance beyond the first and necessary step of the aboli-
tion of slavery.

In speaking of ancient civilisations, I have not men-
tioned the ancient civilisations of the Far East, where in-
dustry is believed to have been first carried to the highest
pitch. The industries of the Far East were supplied
with other than African labour. From the earliest times
the Chinese have been famed for manual dexterity, and
Eastern industries have been based upon yellow labour.
Yellow labour was carried to a far higher degree of
perfection than black labour ever seems to have attained,
and yellow labour has never been thrown out of employ-
ment. The products of its industries were always largely
imported by the nations which owned black slaves. It
retains to-day the dexterity for which it was famous
in the period of the Pharaohs, But the kingdoms of
the East having risen earlier to a condition of cohesion
in which they were able to protect their subjects, and
having also from a very early period maintained the
policy of exclusion practised by Egypt in its greatest
days, yellow labour has never been used to supply the
slave-markets of the West. Western communities have
felt the same repugnance to the employment of free
Chinese labour that they felt to the employment of free
African labour, and we have had to wait for the present
conjunction of events in order to see yellow labour.


under the direction of intelligence as acute as any
intelligence of the West, prepare to enter into com-
petition with white labour in the industrial markets of
the world.

That Japan, which has now established its military
and naval ascendancy on the shores of the Pacific, will
proceed to the fuller development of its industrial re-
sources, is scarcely doubtful. The labour of China is
under its hand. We have therefore an additional reason
to take stock of our imperial and of our industrial position.
We have within our Empire a body of coloured labour
greater than any which Japan can at present command.
There is nothing to prevent us from attracting by immi-
gration as much more as we please. But in order to use
our own, or to attract more with profit to the Empire,
we must face the whole question of tropical administra-
tion. We must study with an open mind the thorny
questions of native labour. We must prepare and make
known those parts of hitherto undeveloped colonies to
which it may be considered desirable to attract labour.
We must introduce systems of transport by means of
which not only the fruits of labour but labour itself may
be able to circulate within the Empire. We must, no
doubt, in many instances recast our local labour laws.
We must frankly recognise the fact that labour is the
foundation upon which development rests.

We may at the same time have the .satisfaction, even
in our earliest beginnings, of knowing that the develop-
ment of the tropical colonies, if we undertake it seriously,
will not end with industrial development. There are
many sides to the history of nations, and in the attempt
to introduce order and industry into the at present un-
civilised areas of many of our tropical possessions, we
shall no doubt meet with innate powers unsuspected
now, that in more favourable conditions may blossom
into life.

Our fathers, by a self-denying ordinance, did what they
could to set the subject populations free. It was nobly


conceived, and civilisation has profited by the step in
human progress that was made. But the actual enjoy-
ment of freedom is still far from the African native.
If we could realise the dream of abolition by carrying
freedom to every village, and so direct our administra-
tion that under it the use of liberty would be learned,
we should be filling a place that any nation might be
proud to hold in the annals of civilisation. It is not
a mere unworthy dream of gain which turns our eyes
towards the tropics. It is a great opportunity which
seems to be presenting itself in national life, one which
affords scope for the best qualities and highest talents
that we can command.

It is not, therefore, surprising that interest in tropical
questions should of late have become more general, and
it is only when we begin to think about them that we
realise how very little we know of some of our newer
possessions in the tropics. A recognition of this ignor-
ance on my own part in relation to the interior of West
Africa has led me to study such authorities as I could
find, and, with a very profound sense of my own incom-
petence in dealing with a subject which demands the
care and attention of an accomplished Oriental scholar, I
have put together a little account of the general move-
ment of civilisation in the Western Soudan which may
perhaps serve rather as a basis for future criticism than
for any of the permanent purposes of history. Fresh
information comes almost daily to light in the territories
occupied by civilised powers, which will doubtless elucidate
many points now left obscure, and rectify mistaken con-
clusions. In the meantime, what I have been able to
gather, in part from original manuscripts, but chiefly from
translations of Arab historians, may interest some of
those who, like myself, desire to have a connected idea
of the civilisations which have preceded our own in our
lately acquired territories in the interior of West Africa.
I am, of course, chiefly concerned with the territories of
the protectorate lying on the watershed of the Niger and


the Benue, of which the administration was only assumed
by the British Government on the ist of January 1900,
By this occupation an entirely new chapter has been
opened in the relations of Great Britain with West

Nigeria — as we call our latest dependency — is not
properly a name. It cannot be found upon a map that is
ten years old. It is only an English expression which has
been made to comprehend a number of native states cover-
ing about 500,000 square miles of territory in that part of
the world which we call the Western Soudan. Ancient
geographers called the same section of Africa sometimes
Soudan, sometimes Ethiopia, sometimes Nigritia, some-
times Tekrour, sometimes and more often Genewah or
Genowah — which, by the European custom of throwing
the accent to the fore part of the word, has become
Guinea ; sometimes they called it simply Negroland.
Always, and in every form, their name for it meant the
Land of the Blacks. Genowah, pronounced with a hard
G, is a native word signifying "black." It is so generally
used to designate blacks that at the present day, among
the Arabs of Egypt and the Moors of Morocco — that is,
at both exits from the desert — I have myself heard it
applied to the negroes of the Soudan. From the earliest
periods of which we have any knowledge, Blackland has
stretched, as it stretches now, from the west coast of
Africa to the east, along that line of successive waterways
which begins with the mouth of the Senegal, and ends
only at the southern mouth of the Red Sea.

If the north of Africa be considered as a whole it
divides itself into three great main sections, all of which
run, like the Land of the Blacks, east and west. There
is first, outside the tropics and within the zone of winter
rains, the historic coast strip stretching along the Medi-
terranean shore from the mouths of the Nile to Cape
Spartel. A range of mountains at its back receding
towards the western end separates it from the deserts
and gives to its fertile lands the shelter and the water


which they need. These mountains have been as the
stronghold of civilisation to the coast. Behind them on
the southern slopes there is a belt of land on which the
date palm flourishes, salt mines abound, and flocks and
herds can find subsistence. In this belt there are even
spots of great fertility, and there are parts in which it
widens, spreading with fertile promontories into the desert.
But in its nature this southern face of the hills, known to
the ancients as the Land of Dates, is but an offshoot of
the coast strip.

It merires soon into the deserts of the rainless zone
which form the second great section of North Africa.
From the Atlantic coast to the Nile these deserts, under
different names, succeed each other across the continent
in a broad belt of desolation. Upon the map they cover
an area of between ten and fifteen degrees of latitude.
At their narrowest parts the caravans which traverse
them count upon a march of fifty days. They are in
part composed of drifting sand, through v/hich only long
practised local guides can find their way ; they are prac-
tically waterless, and it is of course only in places where
springs are known to exist that the passage of them is
possible. Marmol, a Spanish writer of the sixteenth
century, gives an interesting description of how these
wells were preserved in his day. " They are," he says,
"walled inside with camels' bones for want of stones, and
they are also covered with camels' skins lest the shifting
sands should blow over them and fill them up. The
natural consequence is that even when there the wells
are often hidden, and the traveller may die of thirst within
a few feet of water."

With the hot sands of the deserts the continent passes
into the tropics, and here again a natural barrier marks
the third great division of North Africa. A straight line
drawn upon the seventeenth parallel of latitude will mark
the edge of the zone of summer rains. Slightly to the
south of it may be traced the great water-belt formed by
the courses of the Senegal, the Niger, the Benue, the


rivers of Haussaland, Lake Chad, the Shari, the lakes and
rivers of Wadai and Darfour, the Bahr el Gazal, and the
sources of the Nile, which, with their network of tribu-
taries, fertilise the land from the Atlantic Ocean to the
mountains of Abyssinia. Other great lakes and rivers
traverse the continent farther south. The waterways that
I have named suffice, with the Nile, to arrest the advance
of the northern deserts and to place round them a border
of luxuriant vegetation.

Thus in silent prehistoric ages the rough outlines of
the destiny of North Africa were traced. There was a
fertile strip in the temperate zone, and near an easily
navigable sea ; there was a great barren strip in the
waterless desert near to nothing which could encourage
human occupation ; there was another fertile strip in the
tropic zone well watered, but sealess — save at its western
and eastern extremities, where on the western coast a
lack of good harbourage discouraged navigation — miasmic,
of a climate very different from that of the strip upon the
northern coast ; and, running north and south, connecting
these three which lay parallel to one another, there was
the wonderfully fertilised Valley of the Nile.

It was almost a foregone conclusion that one race
should inhabit the coast and a wholly different race the
tropics ; and that civilisation of a no less different sort
should spring up in both zones. Separated as they
were by the deserts, it was natural that connection
between them should be maintained by that Valley of
the Nile which has made itself immortal in the name
of Egypt.

It is accordingly to Egypt that we look for all our
earliest information concerning the Land of Blacks, and
it is to Egypt, and through Egypt to Asia Minor and
Arabia, that the blacks themselves trace their oldest

As it is impossible to appreciate the position of Western
Negroland in the history of the world without reference
to the movements of other civilisations by which it was


influenced, it may be useful, at the risk of repeating very-
familiar facts, briefly to recall some of the commonly
accepted dates relating to the rise and fall of the early
civilisations of the Mediterranean.

The great period of Egyptian civilisation, including
that of the southern end of the Nile Valley, under its
Ethiopian, Coptic, and Libyan Pharaohs, extends from
an antiquity which recent excavations tend to show ever
more remote, to the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses,
King of Persia, B.C. 527. Egypt then became a province
of the Persian Empire. It was in the early period, before
the time of Herodotus and Cambyses, that Egypt would
seem to have given the first inspiration of civilised life
to Western Negroland. It remained a dependency of
the Persian Empire for two hundred years, but during
the whole period was constantly at war with its conquerors.
In 332 B.C. Egypt was invaded by Alexander of Macedon
as a part of his campaign against Persia. It submitted
willingly, and on his death in 321 the dynasty of the
Ptolemies was founded and continued, until, on the death
of Cleopatra, who was the last sovereign of that dynasty,
Egypt became a Roman province, B.C. 30. On the
division of the Roman Empire it was included in the
•Prefecture of the East, and it remained a province of
the Byzantine Empire until it was conquered by the
Arabs in 638 a.d.

The civilisation of the Phoenicians, contemporary at
least in part with the history of Egypt, dates also from the
earliest periods of which civil history has any record.
The Phoenicians are believed to have migrated from
Erythrea on the coast of the Red Sea, about the year
2000 B.C., to the Mediterranean, where they were first
established on a strip of Syria between the chain of
Lebanon and the sea, and afterwards took possession of a
portion of Greece, of some of the islands of the Medi-
terranean, and of the principal promontories along the
coast of Africa to the Straits of Gibraltar, and as far down
the western coast as the mouths of the Senegal. They


also colonised Spain and spread up the coast of Western
Europe, navigating as far as the Baltic and the English
Channel. They were never permitted to have a colony
on the Egyptian coast, because it was a fundamental
maxim of the early Egyptians to suffer no vessel to enter
the mouths of the Nile ; but the Phoenicians had a large
settlement in the very heart of Egypt itself — an entire
quarter of Memphis being devoted to them. Tyre and
Sidon on the Syrian coast were among the most famous
of their early cities. The overthrow of Sidon by Joshua,
it will be remembered, took place about 1400 years before
Christ. Carthage, of later growth, is believed to have
been founded about 853 B.C. Other Phoenician cities on
the coast of Africa were of far greater antiquity than
Carthaofe, and Phoenician trade in the Gulf of Sallee on
the west coast of Morocco was famous for many centuries
before the Romans gave to that part of the coast the name
of Sinus Emporicus, or Merchants' Bay.

An even more interesting maritime trade than that
of the Phoenicians with the West seems to be clearly
established as having existed from a very early period
between the coasts of the Persian and Arabian Gulfs, the
east coast of Africa as far south as Delagoa Bay, and
possibly to the southern coast of the African continent,
the western coast of India as far south as Ceylon — the
Taprobane of the ancients — and beyond Ceylon to China.
By means of this commerce intercourse between India
and Africa was regularly carried on during the earliest
Egyptian era. The Ethiopian ports for the Indian trade
were Azab and Adule within the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb

Online LibraryFlora Louise Shaw LugardA tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria → online text (page 1 of 41)