Richard Francis Burton.

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TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD

_A Personal Narrative_

BY Richard F. Burton AND Verney Lovett Cameron

In Two Volumes - Vol. II.




CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME


CHAPTER

XII. THE SÁ LEONITE AT HOME AND ABROAD

XIII. FROM SÁ LEONE TO CAPE PALMAS

XIV. FROM CAPE PALMAS TO AXIM

XV. AXIM, THE GOLD PORT OF THE PAST AND THE FUTURE

XVI. GOLD ABOUT AXIM, ESPECIALLY AT THE APATIM OR BUJIÁ CONCESSION

XVII. THE RETURN - VISIT TO KING BLAY; ATÁBO AND BÉIN

XVIII. THE IZRAH MINE - THE INYOKO CONCESSION - THE RETURN TO AXIM

XIX. TO PRINCE'S RIVER AND BACK

XX. FROM AXIM TO INGOTRO AND AKANKON

XXI. TO TUMENTO, THE 'GREAT CENTRAL DEPÔT'

XXII. TO INSIMANKÁO AND THE BUTABUÉ RAPIDS.

XXIII. TO EFFUENTA, CROCKERVILLE, AND THE AJI BIPA HILL

XXIV. TO THE MINES OF ABOSU, OF THE 'GOLD COAST,' AND OF THE TÁKWÁ
('AFRICAN GOLD COAST') COMPANIES

XXV. RETURN TO AXIM AND DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE

CONCLUSION



* * * * *

APPENDIX.

I.
§1. THE ASHANTI SCARE
§2. THE LABOUR-QUESTION IN WESTERN AFRICA
§3. GOLD-DIGGING IN NORTH-WESTERN AFRICA

II.
PART I. - LIST OF BIRDS COLLECTED BY CAPTAIN BURTON AND COMMANDER CAMERON

PART II. - LIST OF PLANTS COLLECTED ON THE GOLD COAST BY CAPTAIN BURTON
AND COMMANDER CAMERON, R.N. (FURNISHED BY PROFESSOR OLIVER)

* * * * *

INDEX



TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD.



CHAPTER XII.

THE SÁ LEONITE AT HOME AND ABROAD.

In treating this part of the subject I shall do my best to avoid
bitterness and harsh judging as far as the duty of a traveller - that of
telling the whole truth - permits me. It is better for both writer and
reader to praise than to dispraise. Most Englishmen know negroes of pure
blood as well as 'coloured persons' who, at Oxford and elsewhere, have
shown themselves fully equal in intellect and capacity to the white races
of Europe and America. These men afford incontestable proofs that the
negro can be civilised, and a high responsibility rests upon them as the
representatives of possible progress. But hitherto the African, as will
presently appear, has not had fair play. The petting and pampering
process, the spirit of mawkish reparation, and the coddling and
high-strung sentimentality so deleterious to the tone of the colony, were
errors of English judgment pure and simple. We can easily explain them.

The sad grey life of England, the reflection of her climate, has ever
welcomed a novelty, a fresh excitement. Society has in turn lionised the
_marmiton_, or assistant-cook, self-styled an 'Emir of the Lebanon;' the
Indian 'rajah,' at home a _munshi_, or language-master; and the 'African
princess,' a slave-girl picked up in the bush. It is the same hunger for
sensation which makes the mob stare at the Giant and the Savage, the Fat
Lady, the Living Skeleton, and the Spotted Boy.

Before entering into details it will be necessary to notice the history of
the colony - an oft-told tale; yet nevertheless some parts will bear
repetition.
[Footnote: The following is its popular chronology: -
1787. First settlers (numbering 460) sailed.
1789. Town burnt by natives (1790?).
1791. St. George's Bay Company founded.
1792. Colonists (1,831) from Nova Scotia.
1794. Colony plundered by the French.
1800. Maroons (560) from Jamaica added.
1808. Sá Leone ceded to the Crown; 'Cruits' introduced.
1827. Direct government by the Crown.]

According to Père Labat, the French founded in 1365 Petit Paris at
'Serrelionne,' a town defended by the fort of the Dieppe and Rouen
merchants. The official date of the discovery is 1480, when Pedro de
Cintra, one of the gentlemen of Prince Henry 'the Navigator,' visited the
place, after his employer's death A.D. 1463. In 1607 William Finch,
merchant, found the names of divers Englishmen inscribed on the rocks,
especially Thos. Candish, or Cavendish, Captain Lister, and Sir Francis
Drake. In 1666 the Sieur Villault de Bellefons tells us that the river
from Cabo Ledo, or Cape Sierra Leone, had several bays, of which the
fourth, now St. George's, was called _Baie de France_. This seems to
confirm Père Labat. I have noticed the Tasso fort, built by the English in
1695. The next account is by Mr. Surveyor Smith, [Footnote: He is mentioned
in the last chapter.] who says 'it is not certain when the English became
masters of Sierra Leone, which they possessed unmolested until Roberts the
pirate took it in 1720.' Between 1785 and 1787 Lieutenant John Matthews,
R.N., resided here, and left full particulars concerning the export
slave-trade, apparently the only business carried on by the British.

Modern Sá Leone is the direct outcome of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield's
memorable decision delivered in the case of Jas. Somerset _v_. Mr. James
G. Stewart, his master. 'The claim of slavery never can be supported; the
power claimed never was in use here or acknowledged by law.' This took
place on June 21, 1772; yet in 1882 the Gold Coast is not wholly
free. [Footnote: Slavery was abolished on the Gold Coast by royal command
on December 7, 1874; yet the _Gold Coast Times_ declares that domestic
slavery is an institution recognised by the law-courts of the
Protectorate.]

Many 'poor blacks,' thrust out of doors by their quondam owners, flocked
to the 'African's friend,' Granville Sharp, and company. Presently a
charitable society, with a large command of funds and Jonas Hanway for
chairman, was formed in London; and our people, sorely sorrowing for their
newly-found sin, proposed a colony founded on philanthropy and free labour
in Africa. Sá Leone was chosen, by the advice of Mr. Smeathman, an old
resident. In 1787 Captain Thompson, agent of the St. George's Bay Company,
paid 30_l_. to the Timni chief, Naimbana, _alias_ King Tom, for the rocky
peninsula, extending twenty square miles from the Rokel to the Ketu River.
In the same year he took out the first batch of emigrants, 460 black
freed-men and about 60 whites, in the ship _Nautilus_, whose history so
far resembled that of the _Mayflower_. Eighty-four perished on the
journey, and not a few fell victims to the African climate and its
intemperance; but some 400 survived and built for themselves Granville
Town. These settlers formed the first colony.

In 1790 the place was attacked by the Timni tribe, to avenge the insult
offered to their 'King Jimmy' by the crew of an English vessel, who burnt
his town. The people dispersed, and were collected from the bush with some
difficulty by Mr. Falconbridge. This official was sent out from England
early in 1791, and his wife wrote the book. In the same year (1791) St.
George's Bay Company was incorporated under Act 31 Geo. III. c. 55 as the
'Sierra Leone Company.' Amongst the body of ninety-nine proprietors the
foremost names are Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce, William Ludlam,
and Sir Richard Carr Glynn. They spent 111,500_l_. in establishing and
developing the settlement during the first ten and a half years of its
existence; and the directors organised a system of government, closely
resembling the British constitution, under Lieutenant Clarkson, R.N.

Next year the second batch of colonists came upon the stage. The negroes
who had remained loyal to England, and had been settled by the Government
in Nova Scotia, found the bleak land utterly unsuitable, and sent home a
delegate to pray that they might be restored to Africa. The directors
obtained free passage in sixteen ships for 100 white men and 1,831
negroes. Led by Lieutenant Clarkson, they landed upon the Lioness range in
March (1792), after losing sixty of their number.

Bred upon maize and rice, bread and milk, the new comers sickened on
cassava and ground-nuts. They had no frame-houses, and the rains set in
early, about mid-May, before they had found shelter. The whites were
attacked with climate-fever, which did not respect even the doctors.
Quarrels and insubordination resulted, and 800 of the little band were
soon carried to the grave. Then a famine broke out. A ship from England,
freighted with stores, provisions, and frame-houses, was driven back by a
storm. Forty-five acres had been promised to each settler-family; it was
found necessary to diminish the number to four, and the denseness of the
bush rendered even those four unmanageable. Disgusted with Granville Town,
the new comers transferred themselves to the present site of Freetown, the
northern _Libreville_.

The Company offered annual premiums to encourage the building of
farm-houses, stock-rearing, and growing provisions and exportable produce.
Under Dr. Afzelius, afterwards Professor at Upsal, who first studied the
natural history of the peninsula, they established an experimental garden
and model farm. An English gardener was also employed to naturalise the
large collection of valuable plants from the East and West Indies and the
South Sea Islands supplied by Kew. The Nova Scotians, however, like true
slaves, considered agriculture servile and degrading work - a prejudice
which, as will be seen, prevails to this day not only in the colony, but
throughout the length and breadth of the Dark Continent.

Meanwhile war had broken out between England and France, causing the
frequent detention of vessels; and a store-ship in the harbour caught
fire, the precursor of a worse misfortune. On a Sunday morning, 1794, as
the unfortunates were looking out for the Company's craft (the _Harpy_), a
French man-of-war sailed into the roadstead, pillaged the 'church and the
apothecary's shop,' and burnt boats as well as town. The assailant then
wasted Granville, sailed up to Bance Island, and finally captured two
vessels, besides the long-expected _Harpy_. Having thus left his mark, he
disappeared, after granting, at the Governor's urgent request, two or
three weeks' provision for the whites. Famine followed, with sickness in
its train, and the neighbouring slave-dealers added all they could to the
sufferings of the settlement.

In the same year Zachary Macaulay, father of Lord Macaulay, became
Governor for the first time. The Company also made its earliest effort to
open up trade with the interior by a mission, and two of their servants
penetrated 300 miles inland to Timbo, capital of that part of Pulo-land. A
deputation of chiefs presently visited the settlement to propose terms;
but the futility of the negro settler was a complete obstacle to the
development of the internal commerce, the main object for which the
Company was formed. Yet the colony prospered; in 1798 Freetown numbered,
besides public buildings, about 300 houses.

In 1800 the Sierra Leone Company obtained a Charter of Justice from the
Crown, authorising the directors to appoint a Governor and Council, and to
make laws not repugnant to those of England. During the same year the
settlers, roused to wrath by a small ground-rent imposed upon their farms,
rose in rebellion. This movement was put down by introducing a third
element of 530 Maroons, who arrived in October. They were untamable
Coromanti (Gold Coast) negroes who boasted that among blacks they were
what the English are among whites, able to fight and thrash all other
tribes. They had escaped from their Spanish masters when the British
conquered Jamaica in 1655; they took to the mountains, and, joined by
desperadoes, they built sundry scattered settlements. [Footnote: In 1738,
after regular military operations, the Maroons of Jamaica agreed to act as
police and to deliver up runaways. In 1795 the Trelawny men rebelled, and,
having inflicted a severe loss upon the troops, were deported to Nova
Scotia and Sá Leone.] Introducing these men fostered the ill-feeling
which, in the earlier part of the present century, prevented the rival
sections from intermarrying. Many of the disaffected Sá Leonites left the
colony; some fled to the wilds and the wild ones of the interior, and a
few remained loyal.

Rumours of native invasions began to prevail. The Governor was loth to
believe that King Tom would thus injure his own interests, until one
morning, when forty war-canoes, carrying armed Timnis, were descried
paddling round the eastern point. Londoners and Nova Scotians fled to the
fort, and next day the Timni drum sounded the attack. The Governor, who
attempted to parley, was wounded; but the colonists, seeing that life was
at stake, armed themselves and beat off the assailants, when the Maroons
of Granville Town completed the rout. After this warning a wall with
strong watch-towers was built round Freetown.

Notwithstanding all precautions, another 'Timni rising' took place in
1803. The assailants paddled down in larger numbers from Porto Loko,
landed at Kissy, and assaulted Freetown, headed by a jumping and drumming
'witch-woman.' Divided into three storming parties, they bravely attacked
the gates, but they were beaten back without having killed a man. The dead
savages lay so thick that the Governor, fearing pestilence, ordered the
corpses to be cast into the sea.

The first law formally abolishing slavery was passed, after a twenty
years' campaign, by the energy of Messieurs Clarkson, Stephen,
Wilberforce, and others, on May 23, 1806. In 1807 the importation of fresh
negroes into the colonies became illegal. On March 16, 1808, Sá Leone
received a constitution, and was made a depôt for released captives. This
gave rise to the preventive squadron, and in due time to a large
importation of the slaves it liberated. Locally called 'Cruits,' many of
these savages were war-captives; others were criminals condemned to death,
whom the wise chief preferred to sell than to slay. With a marvellous
obtuseness and want of common sense our Government made Englishmen by
wholesale of these wretches, with eligibility to sit on juries, to hold
office, and to exercise all the precious rights of Englishmen. Instead of
being apprenticed or bound to labour for some seven years under
superintendence, and being taught to clear the soil, plant and build, as
in similar cases a white man assuredly would have been, they were allowed
to loaf, lie, and cheat through a life equally harmful to themselves and
others. 'Laws of labour,' says an African writer, [Footnote: _Sierra Leone
Weekly Times_, July 30, 1862.] 'may be out of place (date?) in England, but
in Sierra Leone they would have saved an entire population from trusting
to the allurements of a petty, demoralising trade; they would have saved
us the sight of decayed villages and a people becoming daily less capable
of bearing the laborious toil of agricultural industry. To handle the hoe
has now become a disgrace, and men have lost their manhood by becoming
gentlemen.' I shall presently return to this subject.

Thus the four colonies which successively peopled Sá Leone were composed
of destitute paupers from England, of fugitive Nova Scotian serviles, of
outlawed Jamaican negroes, and of slave-prisoners or criminals from every
region of Western and inner Africa.

The first society of philanthropists, the 'Sierra Leone Company,' failed,
but not without dignity. It had organised a regular government, and even
coined its own money. In the British Museum a silver piece like a florin
bears on the obverse 'Sierra Leone Company, Africa,' surrounding a lion
guardant standing on a mountain; the reverse shows between the two numbers
50 and 50 two joined hands, representing the union of England and Africa,
and the rim bears 'half-dollar piece, 1791,' the year of the creation of
the colony. The Company's intentions were pure; its hopes and expectations
were lofty, and the enthusiasts flattered themselves that they had proved
the practicability of civilising Africa. But debt and native wars ended
their career, and transferred, on January 1, 1808, their rights to the
Crown. The members, however, did not lose courage, but at once formed the
African Institution, the parent of the Royal Geographical Society.

The government of the Crown colony has undergone some slight
modifications. In 1866 it was made, with very little forethought, a kind
of government-general, the centre of rule for all the West African
settlements. The unwisdom of this step was presently recognised, and Sá
Leone is now under a charter dated December 17, 1874, the governor-in-chief
having command over the administration of Bathurst, Gambia. Similarly
farther south, Lagos, now the Liverpool of West Africa, has been
bracketed, foolishly enough, with the Gold Coast.

The liberateds, called by the people 'Cruits,' and officially
'recaptives,' soon became an important factor. In 1811 they numbered 2,500
out of 4,500; and between June 1819 and January 1833 they totalled 27,167
hands. They are now represented by about seventeen chief, and two hundred
minor, tribes. A hundred languages, according to Mr. Koelle, increased to
a hundred and fifty by Bishop Vidal, and reduced to sixty by Mr. Griffith,
are spoken in the streets of Freetown, a 'city' which in 1860 numbered
17,000 and now 22,000 souls. The inextricably mixed descendants of the
liberateds may be a total of 35,430, more than half the sum of the
original settlement, 53,862. Being mostly criminals, and _ergo_ more
energetic spirits, they have been the most petted and patronised by
colonial rule. There were governors who attempted to enforce our wise old
regulations touching apprenticeship, still so much wanted in the merchant
navy; but disgust, recall, or death always shortened their term of office.
Naturally enough, the 'Cruits' were fiercely hated by Colonists, Settlers,
and Maroons. Mrs. Melville reports an elderly woman exclaiming, 'Well,
'tis only my wonder that we (settlers) do not rise up in one body and
_kill_ and _slay_, _kill_ and _slay!_ Dem Spanish and Portuguese sailors
were quite right in making slaves. I would do de same myself, suppose I
were in dere place.' 'He is only a liberated!' is a favourite sneer at the
new arrivals; so in the West Indies, by a curious irony of fate,
'Willyfoss nigger' is a term of abuse addressed to a Congo or Guinea
'recaptive.' But here all the tribes are bitterly hostile to one another,
and all combine against the white man. After the fashion of the Gold Coast
they have formed themselves into independent caucuses called 'companies,'
who set aside funds for their own advancement and for the ruin of their
rivals.

The most powerful and influential races are two - the Aku and the Ibo. The
Akus [Footnote: This is a nickname from the national salutation, 'Aku, ku,
ku?' ('How d'ye do?')] or Egbas of Yoruba, the region behind Lagos, the
Eyeos of the old writers, so called from their chief town, 'Oyo,' are
known by their long necklaces of tattoo. They are termed the Jews of
Western Africa; they are perfect in their combination, and they poison
with a remarkable readiness. The system of Egba 'clanship' is a favourite,
sometimes an engrossing, topic for invective with the local press, who
characterise this worst species of 'trades-union,' founded upon
intimidation and something worse, as the 'Aku tyranny' and the 'Aku
Inquisition.' The national proverb speaks the national sentiment clearly
enough: '_Okàn kau lè ase ibi, ikoko li asi ìmolle bi atoju ìmolle taù, ke
atoju ibi pella, bi aba kû ara enni ni isni 'ni'_ ('A man must openly
practise the duties of kinship, even though he may privately belong to a
(secret) club; when he has attended the club he must also attend to the
duties of kinship, because when he dies his kith and kin are those who
bury him').

The Ibos, or 'Eboes' of American tales, are even more divided; still they
feel and act upon the principle 'Union is strength.' This large and savage
tribe, whose headquarters are at Abo, about the head of the Nigerian
delta, musters strong at Sá Leone; here they are the Swiss of the
community; the Kruboys, and further south the Kabenda-men being the
'Paddies.' It is popularly said that while the Aku will do anything for
money, the Ibo will do anything for revenge. Both races are astute in the
extreme and intelligent enough to work harm. Unhappily, their talents
rarely take the other direction. In former days they had faction-fights:
the second eastern district witnessed the last serious disturbance in
1834. Now they do battle under the shadow of the law. 'Aku constables will
not, unless in extreme cases, take up their delinquent countrymen, nor
will an Ebo constable apprehend an Ebo thief; and so on through all the
different tribes,' says the lady 'Resident of Sierra Leone.' If the
majority of the jury be Akus, they will unhesitatingly find the worst of
Aku criminals innocent, and the most innocent of whites, Ibos, or Timnis
guilty. The Government has done its best to weld all those races into one,
and has failed. Many, however, are becoming Moslems, as at Lagos, and this
change may have a happier effect by introducing the civilisation of
El-Islam.

Trial by jury has proved the reverse of a blessing to most non-English
lands; in Africa it is simply a curse. The model institution becomes here,
as in the United States, a better machine for tyranny than any tyrant,
except a free people, ever invented. The British Constitution determines
that a man shall be tried by his peers. Half a dozen of his peers at Sá
Leone may be full-blooded blacks, liberated slaves, half-reformed
fetish-worshippers, sometimes with a sneaking fondness for Shángo, the
Egba god of fire; and, if not criminals and convicts in their own country,
at best paupers clad in dishclouts and palm-oil. The excuse is that a
white jury cannot be collected among the forty or fifty eligibles in
Freetown. It is vain to 'challenge,' for other negroes will surely take
the place of those objected to. No one raises the constitutional question,
'Are these half-reclaimed savages my peers?' And if he did, Justice would
sternly reply, 'Yes.' The witnesses will forswear themselves, not, like
our 'posters,' for half a crown, but gratis, because the plaintiff or
defendant is a fellow-tribesman. The judge may be 'touched with a
tar-brush;' but, be he white as milk, he must pass judgment according to
verdict. This state of things recalls to mind the Ireland of the early
nineteenth century, when the judges were prefects armed with a penal code,
and the jurymen vulgar, capricious, and factious partisans.

Surely such a caricature of justice, such an outrage upon reason, was
never contemplated by British law or lawgiver. Our forefathers never
dreamt that the free institutions for which they fought and bled during
long centuries would thus be prostituted, would be lavished upon every
black 'recaptive,' be he thief, wizard, or assassin, after living some
fourteen days in a black corner of the British empire. Even the Irishman
and the German must pass some five years preparing themselves in the
United States before they become citizens. Sensible Africans themselves
own that 'the negro race is not fitted, without a guiding hand, to
exercise the privileges of English citizenship.' A writer of the last
century justly says, 'Ideas of perfect liberty have too soon been given to
this people, considering their utter ignorance. If one of them were asked
why he does not repair his house, clear his farm, mend his fence, or put
on better clothes, he replies that "King no give him work dis time," and
that he can do no more than "burn bush and plant little _cassader_ for
yam."'

But a kind of _hysterica passio_ seems to have mastered the cool common
sense of the nation - a fury of repentance for the war about the Asiento
contract, for building Bristol and Liverpool with the flesh and blood of
the slave, and for the 2,130,000 negroes supplied to Jamaica between 1680
and 1786. Like a veteran devotee Great Britain began atoning for the
coquetries of her hot youth. While Spain and Portugal have passed sensible
laws for gradual emancipation, England, with a sublime folly, set free by
a stroke of the pen, at the expense of twenty millions sterling the born
and bred slaves of Jamaica. The result was an orgy for a week, a
systematic refusal to work, and for many years the ruin of the glorious
island.

If the reader believes I have exaggerated the state of things long
prevalent at Sá Leone, he is mistaken. And he will presently see a
confirmation of these statements in the bad name which the Sá Leonite


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Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonTo The Gold Coast for Gold, Vol. II A Personal Narrative → online text (page 1 of 23)