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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climate of the Protectorate, as a whole, is found also to be
much better than that of the valleys of the Niger and the
Benue, in which at first the only centres of British occu-
pation were situated. The climate of Zaria is indeed
so good as to be exhilarating to Europeans, who, during
a portion of the year, can enjoy the pleasure of frosty
nights, and as the territories approach the desert in the
north they become generally more suitable for white
occupation. Native towns are frequently insanitary, but
it is believed that, with the exercise of due care in the
selection of sites for white settlements, these may in the
northern states be rendered perfectly healthy.

The position nevertheless is one which throws into relief
the very great importance of the question of communica-
tions. There are at present telegraph lines between some
of the more important centres, and it is hoped soon to con-
nect them all with the administrative capital at Zungeru.
It is even now possible, by a system of runners to Kano,
to communicate by cable between the shores of Lake Chad
and London in ten days. But there are as yet no rail-
roads in the Protectorate, except about twenty-two miles,
which have been constructed from a port on the Kaduna
to communicate with Zungeru, and the distances to be
traversed are very great. For the Residents of Bornu to
reach their stations from the administrative capital at
Zungeru, takes longer than it takes them to travel from
London to Zungeru, and thus causes a very serious loss of
official time in proceeding to and from their work. Be-
tween station and station, in the event of promotion from
one part of the Protectorate to another, or if the need arises
for two Residents to meet in order to discuss the affairs of
their provinces, the same loss of time has to be reckoned
with. Through the southern states the travelling roads
were originally little more than tracks, and at the moment
of the introduction of British Administration, the navi-


gability of the minor rivers for any craft larger ilian
canoes was untested.

Under British Administration something has been
done to improve the state of the communications.
Tracks have been widened into roads ; districts rendered
unsafe for travelHng by the brigandage of pagan tribes
have been poHced, and waterways have been opened to
navigation. By the opening of the river Gongola, an
important tributary of the Benue, last year, an addition
was made to the navigable course of the Niger and
the Benue, which gives at certain periods of the year
1 100 miles of continuous waterway without a rapid
from the Niger mouth, and the time and expense of
getting stores into Bornu have been greatly diminished.
In the northern states there are broad caravan roads
neatly bordered with hedges as in England, and it has,
of course, become part of the work of the Native Ad-
ministration to maintain and to develop these roads.
Roadmaking is one of the subjects to which the atten-
tion of the chiefs is being directed in every province.

In the present state of the communications the High
Commissioner was able last year, accompanied by his
secretarial staff and a small military escort, to visit
every capital of the Protectorate, with the exception of
Sokoto. The tour, which included Yola, Bautchi, Bornu,
Kano, Katsena, and Katagum, occupied him about
four months, marching at a rate scarcely less rapid
than that of his march to Kano and Sokoto in 1903.
Sites were selected during this tour for all the new
British stations. Oaths of allegiance were taken from
the Emirs of Bautchi and Yola. The Shehu of Bornu,
one of the most cultivated and intelligent of the native
chiefs of the Protectorate, was installed with much
ceremony, and many interesting discussions were held
with him upon the principles and application of British
policy. A somewhat sullen and recalcitrant chief, who
claimed independence in the border town of Hadeija,
was also interviewed, and brought to submission and


to the acceptance of a British garrison, which will
occupy Hadeija as one of the chain of frontier forts
already mentioned. The Emir of Katsena, whose con-
duct since the occupation of Katsena by the British
had been radically unsatisfactory, was deposed, and
his heir, selected by the Council of Notables, was in-
stalled in his place. This new emir, and the Shehu of
Bornu, both took the oath of allegiance to King Edward
on the Koran in public, with the knowledge of all their
people, as a part of the installation ceremony.

In Kano and Katsena, as at Bornu, much interesting
conversation upon the subject of the new system of
administration was held with the emirs, and the know-
ledge that the High Commissioner in person, the repre-
sentative of the British sovereign, had travelled within
a few months through every capital of the Protectorate,
had its visible effect in helping forward the realisation
of the fact that the Protectorate has been consolidated
into a unity administered in the name of the King of

The capitals of the other provinces — Kontagora,
Ilorin, Nupe, &c. — were visited In a separate short tour.
Thus a personal supervision of the provinces has already,
to a certain extent, become possible, and, notwithstanding
the obstacles of space and time, free communication
between them may be said to have been established.
But for the purposes of that further communication,
which Is essential to the opening of trade and the
development of their commercial resources, the crying
need of the Protectorate Is, of course, for a railway
through the heart of Its most populous districts, which
should connect the commercial centres of Kano and
Zaria with an all-the-year-round navigable port upon
the Niger.



What are we to do with it? is perhaps the question
which will arise in many minds as they think of the
vastness of the territory which has thus been brought
under British rule. To this question the growing re-
cognition of the value of the tropics, to which allusion
was made in the first chapter of this book, will gradu-
ally bring the full answer. No one can so foretell the
course of history as to know yet all that may be done
with it.

To those to whom the liberation of many millions
from the curse of slavery, and the introduction of the
elements of a finer civilisation into the local life of the
interior of Africa, do not in the meantime give a suffi-
ciently satisfactory reply, it may be briefly said that we
shall presumably do with it as we have done with India.
We shall administer it, trade with it, and help both
directly and indirectly in the development of those
natural resources which form at present, as Sir Robert
Schomberg said more than fifty years ago of British
Guiana, the "buried treasures" of its soil.

When it was decided, towards the middle of the last
century, to withdraw from the West Coast of Africa, the
commercial use of many valuable commodities of the
tropics was unknown, the existence of others was
ignored ; but science and experiment are every day
demonstrating the value of new products. The forest
areas of the tropics are rapidly proving to be reserves

of wealth no less real than that which has for centuries



lain hidden in the mineral beds of Australia, California,
and the Transvaal. Rubber, shea butter, palm oil,
wood oil, gums, and many other articles of modern
trade, exist in the forests in quantities which represent
an almost limitless addition to the circulating wealth of
the world — if labour can be found to harvest them, and
transport facilities can be given to carry them to the
markets of civilisation. That these sylvan products
require enterprise for their development, and for the
conversion of their potential resources into realised
wealth, is all the better. They offer a fresh field to
the activity of new generations.

In Northern Nigeria an important forest belt spreads
across the southern states and up the valleys of the
principal rivers.

In Ilorin and Kabba, the two most westerly provinces
south of the Niger, the forests contain much valuable
timber, in which mahogany is especially noticeable.
There are also in these provinces extensive plantations
of kola trees, bearing the nut most valued in the markets
of the Protectorate. In Ilorin there is little rubber,
but in Kabba there is a great deal, Funtu7nia elastica
and several Landolphias being common. The forests
are known also to contain many commercial products
which further exploration would bring to light. Bassa,
on the southern side of the Benue, is practically a rubber
reserve. Here there exist stretches of what may be
called " rubber forest," in which thick masses of Landolphia
vines scramble over the trees. Nassarawa, both north
and south of the Benu6, contains great quantities of
rubber. On the banks of the Lower Benue, and also
on the banks of the Gurara River, flowing through the
western part of Nassarawa into the Niger, there are
splendid forest areas, in which mahogany and ebony
predominate. These woods, being situated on the banks
of navigable rivers, could be easily worked. The same
observation applies to the rubber forests of Bassa, a
province which occupies the angle formed by the meeting


of the Benu6 and the Niger. In the western part of
Nupe, between the Kaduna and the Niger, there are
extensive plantations of the Kola acm/iina/a, esteemed
through the whole of North Africa : these might
become the basis of an important export trade. Shea
butter trees abound in most parts of the Protectorate,
and oil palms in the river valleys. The larger rivers
of the Protectorate possess the usual characteristic of
African rivers, and in time of flood overflow their normal
borders, leaving every year a deposit of rich alluvial
mud, which renders the soil of the valleys not only
extremely rich, but practically inexhaustible. Heavy
crops of rice, tobacco, cotton, &c., are cultivated as in
Egypt on the land thus left exposed. This fertility is
particularly observable in the valleys of the rivers which
drain the highlands of Nassarawa and Bautchi to the
Niger and the Benue.

In the Gongola Valley the soil is described as "ideal
black cotton soil," and existing native cotton crops are
specially good. Fine fields of dhourra, gero, tobacco,
&c., spread round all the villages ; two crops of dhourra
and tobacco being obtained in the year. On the exposed
banks of the Lower Benue after flood, rice enough could,
it is believed, be grown to supply the whole Protectorate,
and to leave a considerable surplus for export.

All these areas are inhabited by naturally industrious
agricultural tribes, who have for centuries been the prey
of slave-raiders. It is evident that a very large popula-
tion has at one time existed here, and now that slave-
raiding has been stopped, the country should once more
provide all the labour that can be required for its exten-
sive development.

Farther east, the territories of Southern Bornu carry
forests of gum-bearing acacias, breaking towards the
north into mahogany tamarinds and dum palms.

In the open northern portions of the Protectorate
the products are more purely agricultural. They are
under present conditions grown mainly — though not


entirely — for local consumption, and consist commonly
of various kinds of corn and beans, cassava, rice, ground
nuts, yams, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sorrel, onions,
taniers, ochres, gourds of many kinds, and peppers. In
addition to these, wheat and sugar-cane are grown as a
special form of cultivation in some districts ; wheat rather
extensively in the Wobe Valley, in North Bornu, where
the same conditions of rich soil repeat themselves, as in
the valleys of the south. For industrial purposes the
most widely grown crops are cotton, tobacco, indigo,
and beniseed.

Of these cotton is the crop which will at first most
naturally attract European attention. It has from time
immemorial been a crop native to the soil. It is grown
in large quantities and of good quality all over the

It has been already seen that the soil of the Gongola
valley, repeating the conditions of the valley of the Nile,
is particularly favourable to the growth of heavy cotton
crops, and, owing to the cheap water-transport available,
its harvest could be easily exported. The greater part
of Southern Bornu consists of cotton soil. On the edee
of Lake Chad a specially fine quality of cotton, locally
known as "Ballum," grows with extraordinary luxuriance.
At the time that the High Commissioner's party passed
in December last, the cotton bushes were in full bearing.
They were growing in clumps, of which measurements
were taken by the botanical expert who accompanied the
party, and the plants were found to be ten feet high,
while each clump measured about fifteen yards in circum-
ference. This is almost phenomenal for cotton. They
carried a very heavy crop. The cotton which they bore
is silky and long in the staple, and even locally fetches a
high price.

The provinces of Kano and Katagum are full of
cotton, which is grown with care in fenced enclosures.
In Zaria, every town and village has its cotton fields.
The people thoroughly understand its cultivation, and


it is reported that " the capabilities of the country for
the production of cotton are enormous."

The opinion of a cotton expert, who passed through
Nupe and some other districts in 1904, was that Nor-
thern Nigeria held out better prospects for the cotton
industry than any other West African colony.

I have dwelt at some length upon the question of
cotton, as it offers, perhaps, a prospect of the creation
of the first large export industry of the Protectorate,
and there is no need to insist upon the importance of
feeding the looms of Lancashire with home-grown raw
material. There are, of course, many other prospective
industries, which should include all forms of tropical agri-
culture. The leather trade and ostrich farming are also
industries to be developed.

There has been no time for the systematic explora-
tion of the mineral resources of the country. The
highlands to the north of the Benue have an historical
reputation, and silver and tin ores are known to exist
in them in some quantity. Antimony also occurs, and
small quantities of monozite and other valuable thorium-
bearing minerals have been found. Iron ores are common
throughout the Protectorate ; and smelting is one of the
oldest industries of which local records have been pre-
served. A small survey was sent out in 1904, but the
discovery of minerals takes time, and the country must
be more fully open to European enterprise before its
true mineral capacity can be gauged.

Enough has, I think, been said to show that with the
forest-bearing slopes and valleys of the southern pro-
vinces, the mineralised, though as yet unexplored, belt
of highlands, which at the back of these traverses the
country from west to east, and the open agricultural
plains of the northern districts, the Protectorate con-
tains in itself all the primitive elements of a valuable
trade. Add to this that the population, though much
depleted now, is to be counted in millions, who, under
conditions of peace and security, are likely to show a


rapid increase, and that from the earliest times their
numbers have been made up of agriculturists, herds-
men, and traders ; and it will be understood that there
was a substantial foundation for the North African
proverb which said that, " As tar cures the gall of a
camel, so poverty finds its cure in the Soudan."



From the point of view of a development which should
bring the country into touch with the outer world, the
trade of Northern Nigeria may at once be divided into
two branches, the internal and the external. In proportion
as the internal trade is active and widespread, local life
will evidently be nourished, and the native populations
will attain to a prosperity in which, if they desire to
do so, they can restore the old position of Negroland,
by attracting, for the gratification of their own wants,
a steady volume of trade from other nations.

We have seen that in the Middle Aees the trade
of the West African Soudan bore no mean proportion
to the relatively limited trade of the civilised world.
It is probable that, as the nations of the Soudan recover
their ancient prosperity under a just and enlightened
rule, they may contribute again in equal proportion to
the now enlarged volume of the world's commercial

Clearly, if we look to the millions of Nigeria to
become our customers, it is of great importance that
they should be rich and prosperous themselves. From
this point of view the internal trade movements of the
country have a general, as well as a local interest, and it
is satisfactory to find that with every year of British
administration the value and convenience of open roads
is being more widely appreciated by local traders, and
trade is proportionately increasing. It consists largely,
as in other parts of the world, of an exchange of the
manufactures of the towns for the raw material of the


country, and is carried on by the direct operation of
barter, supplemented by a currency in cowries.

All trade at present is caravan-borne, partly by means
of transport animals, partly by human carriage. A man
carries usually about seventy pounds, and in order to deliver
this weight of goods in distant portions of the Protectorate
he may have to walk for several months. When this has
to be done through disturbed countries the risk to life
and property is of course great, and to minimise the risk,
caravans in old days travelled in great strength, sometimes
numbering several thousand persons. The passage of
such bodies of men through a country unprepared for their
reception was in itself likely enough to provoke disturb-
ance, and it was the habit of the rulers through whose
territory they passed to compensate themselves for damage
by the exaction of very heavy tolls.

The main routes of trade ran generally north and
south through the western portion of the Protectorate,
where Ilorin at one end counterbalanced Kano at the
other, and east and west through the northern states,
where the caravans travelling from Tripoli to Kano
usually entered the territories of Haussaland via Lake
Chad and Kuka. Upon these main routes Fulani toll
stations were established, while the by-roads were ren-
dered impracticable by the brigandage of pagan tribes.
The position of a trader was not always enviable under
the circumstances. Nevertheless, the whole of the terri-
tories were traversed by a network of caravan routes.
Besides those which ran from Kano to Ilorin in the
south-west, there were others, more dangerous and less
frequented, which carried goods to Yola in the south-
east. Kano, which was itself a manufacturing centre,
and was also a receiving centre for European goods from
the Mediterranean coast, sent local manufactures and
European products to the country districts, receiving raw
materials in exchange. Ilorin, which was not itself so
much a manufacturing as a receiving centre, distributed
the goods of Kano through the coast districts, and


supplied the returning caravans with European goods
in exchange.

These caravans were, however, confined to the in-
terior. They were not allowed to pass through Ilorin
in the south-west, but were obliged to receive from the
Ilorin middlemen any goods which they desired to pur-
chase from the coast. Similarly Lagos traders from the
coast were prevented from passing to the north. Ilorin
held the position of a buffer trade state, in which the
whole of the exchange trade was done by local brokers.
An equally impassable barrier existed on the south-eastern
frontier. The greater part of the southern pagan belt
was entirely impenetrable by peaceful caravans. There
existed only one or two roads by which it was possible
to cross it, and on those the tolls were so extortionate
that the exactions on the road amounted to half the
goods of the caravan. A similar exaction was made on
the return journey, and, in addition, there was all the
risk of murder and pillage. This trade was directed
towards what is now German territory, but the dangers
of the road rendered it practically impossible. On the
northern frontier, trade from Tripoli via Chad to Kano
took some months for the journey, and cost about ^50
per ton of merchandise carried, in addition to heavy risks
of pillage and murder in the desert.

Since the introduction of British grovernment the roads
of the Protectorate have been rendered practically safe,
and traders travel singly or in couples where caravans
used to think it necessary to travel in strength. The
tolls, though still retained in principle, have been reduced
to a relatively small percentage upon the value of goods
carried, and the safety of the roads has now thrown
open the passage to the coast. An experimental down
journey was made by an Arab trader from Tripoli in the
early part of this year. He took a caravan of eighteen
oxen from Kano to Zungeru, and was amazed at the
security and convenience of a road which he had believed
to be impassable. He went on personally to Lagos, and


thence by sea to Tripoli, his own prediction being that
he would be the "first of many" who would take this
road when he had reported its advantages and security
in Tripoli. His calculation was that goods could be carried-^
between the Lagos coast and Kano in forty days without
risk, whereas, between Tripoli and Kano, the journey ex-
tended sometimes to seven months, with the risks of the
desert in addition. It has since been reported that the
arrival of this Arab in Tripoli, and the account which he
has given of his journey, has created a great sensation
in commercial circles there. It remains still to be seen
how much of the northern trade will in this way be
diverted to the British coast.

The facilities which have been given by the new order
of things to caravans travelling southward towards the
coast have, of course, been reciprocally extended to traders
travellingr northward from the coast to the interior, and
upwards of four thousand trade licences were this year
issued by the British Government in Ilorin to petty
traders, many of whom flocked from the coast provinces
into the town. The British Resident of Ilorin reports
that whereas, in old days, no Yoruba trader was to be
found upon the left bank of the Niger, there is now no
market of importance in Northern Nigeria in which they
are not to be found. This, if correct, is in itself extremely
satisfactory. It prepares the way for an easy flow of
trade from the coast to the interior, and the impetus
which has already been given to the trade of the coast
colonies is clearly marked in their annual returns.

The question of caravan tolls is an interesting one,
upon which the permanent policy of the British Adminis-
tration is still open to consideration. It seems fair
that all trade profiting by the safety of the roads, and
the new markets opened to its activity, should bear a
share of the expense by which this state of things is
brought about. But, on the other hand, the undesira-
bility of placing any restriction upon the movements of
trade is keenly recognised. It is to be desired on all


sides, that the cumbrous and extravagant system of
caravan traffic may soon be superseded by a more
convenient form of transport. With the introduction
of railroads, and the extension of a steam service upon
the rivers, the question of caravan tolls will probably
fall into abeyance. Throughout the interior of the
Protectorate the reduction of these tolls has given
universal satisfaction, and the steady increase in the
amount collected — notwithstanding the fact that by-
roads, which have no toll stations, are now so safe as
to be frequently used for the purpose of evading all
tolls — gives unmistakable indication of the increase in
the volume of internal trade.

The question in which European traders are in-
terested is, of course, the development of an export
trade. This rests, I have tried to show, in the first
instance, upon internal prosperity. The direct object
of the administration is to promote prosperity by the

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 39 of 41)