WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA
LIVERPOOL TO FERNANDO PO.
WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA
LIVERPOOL TO FERNANDO PO.
BY A F.R.G.S.
S2itfj fHap anS EDustratum.
TINSLEY BROTHERS, 18, CATHERINE ST., STRAND.
[The Rigid of Translation is resewed.]
BRADBUBT AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFBIARS.
CHAPTER VI. (continued},
SIX HOURS AT THE CAPE OP COCOA PALMS ... 1
TWENTY-FOUR HOURS AT CAPE COAST CASTLE . . . 39
GOLD IN AFRICA 104
A PLEASANT DAY IN THE LAND OF ANTS . . . . 132
A DAY AT LAGOS. . .* 186
BENIN NUN BONNY RIVER TO FERNANDO Po 242
WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
CHAPTER VI. (continued.)
SIX HOURS AT THE CAPE OF COCOA PALMS.
" Cape de las Palmas, a fair high land ; hut having on the eastern
side some low places by the shore which look like red cliffs, with white
streaks resembling highways, reaching the length of a cable."
Capt, JOHN LAKE, the first English visitor at this place in 1554.
16TH SEPTEMBER, 186 .
AFTER subscribing to the Cavalla Messenger,* and
taking leave of Mr. Hoffman, with gratitude for his
kindness, indeed highly pleased with the civility of all
after our short but sharp experience at S'a Leone, we
walked back to the Hotel, where we found a luncheon
provided for us by Mr. John Marshall. Our leave of
absence was soon ended ; we unfolded umbrellas a pre-
* It is published monthly at Cavalla, the head-quarters of Bishop
Payne. The printing, which is tolerable, is "done" by two native
youths. The subscription, payable in advance, is fifty cents (two
shillings) per annum ; or, including postage per steamer, seventy-five
2 WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
caution never to be disregarded in these latitudes, where
the more you know of the sun the more you respect him
and took our way to the boats. On the steps a docu-
ment was handed to me : it bore the novel direction :
For Nanpopo (Fernando Po),
In the care of one* Crewman (Kruman).
The Consul had failed in recruiting men. " Nanny
Po/' was a word of fear to the Krumen ; they had been
made to work in gardens and on the roads, and they
complained most falsely, I afterwards found of "^toco
comer, mucho trabajo." Some of them had been engaged
for one year, not two, and had been kept for three the
usual time to the great sorrow of their mammies and
to the abiding resentment of themselves. Hearing the
Consul speak a few words of Spanish, they decided him
to be " a Tanyer," and resolutely refused, with charac-
teristic independence, to accompany him. One man
came down to the wharf and expressed willingness to
engage; he asked, besides passage to and from his country,
and food, clothes, and lodging, $4 and 2 pezetas per
mensem $2 being the usual wages. His terms were
agreed to, but he forgot to come on board. We also
failed in buying Kru canoes, which are useful for fishing
and for sending notes to ships in harbour. They are
usually plentiful, and sell for II. each; the people,
however, in actual sight of " siller/' declared that they
* The African language has no indefinite article : hence one is always
used for our a.
SIX HOURS AT THE CAPE OF PALMS. 3
wanted all their craft, and I know the African too well to
waste time when he urges that plea and takes that stand.
Cape Palmas, called Bamnepo by the natives, is in
the county of Maryland, the easternmost of the five into
which the Liberian Republic is divided, beginning from,
the east Sinoe, Bassa, Mesurado, in which the capital
stands, and Kassa, the northernmost which contains the
much-vexed Gallinhas River. It was begun in 1834 by
the Maryland State Colonization Society, which granted
to it an annual sum of 2000^ from the treasury. The
Governor, or, as he is here called, the Superintendent
of Public Affairs at Cape Palmas Station, is Hon.
J. C. Gibson, who is under the present President of
Liberia, Hon. S. A. Benson, who succeeded ex-Presi-
dent Eoberts, a good working man, but as arbitrary as
democrats when in power are apt to be. There are two
senators Hon. J. Marshall, and Hon. J. Moulton.
Whenever a dispute arises between the colonists arid the
natives, a council, composed of the Superintendent and
the Senators, together with the African Headman, holds
"palaver" upon the subject. The Krumen have as
yet shown a rooted aversion to all taxation ; they prefer
to be plundered wholesale, at uncertain periods, by their
own people, than pay a certain and invariable, though
trifling assessment, for law, order, and protection. Con-
sequently Harper is rather depressed for want of means.
The principal income is from ships entering the harbour;
they are charged 3 Is. for anchorage and lighthouse
dues. Another tax might be put upon water, of
4 . WANDEEINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
which there are good, but not abundant, springs at the
Cape. The number of Krumen who flock to this station
for employment seldom falls below 1500, and of course
it is made a source of profit to individual colonists. The
Republic desires that trade be restricted to six ports of
entry, of which Harper is one.*
The Methodists who, about eight years ago, established
themselves in these lands, number the largest body of
Christians in Liberia their annals, however, are a necro-
logy. The reader may see below the state of the Protes-
tant Episcopal Mission at the time of my visit.f In the
* Of these six, three are in one county, and one in each of the
others, viz. :
Roberts Port, J
Monrovia, I Mesurad County.
Buchanan, Bassa County.
Gxeenhill, Sinoe County.
Harper, Maryland County.
+ " The Mission Field about Cape Palmas.
"It was a wise and merciful Providence which first directed the
Protestant Episcopal Mission, and others, to Cape Palmas and parts ad-
jacent. It was the healthiest of the settlements then made on the
coast. Unlike some other portions of the Liberian coast, the tribes
around had not been thinned or broken up by the slave trade and
domestic wars which it ever excites. While the Cavalla River, alive
with an active trade, opened a highway eighty miles into the interior.
"These favourable circumstances, made known by Dr. James Hall,
then Governor at Cape Palmas, and Rev. Dr. Wilson, who accompanied
him on his expedition to purchase land for the colony, determined the
Foreign Committee of the Protestant Episcopal Church to commence
their missionary work at Cape Palmas.
" In the autumn of 1836, Rev. Dr. Savage arrived at Cape Palmas,
Mr. James M. Thomson, a Liberian, had been employed by the Foreign
Committee to make preliminary arrangements, and had so well
SIX HOURS AT THE CAPE OF PALMS. 5
several settlements of Rocktown, Fishtown, and Springhill
there are about 130 catechumens, who are instructed by
occupied his time that when Dr. Savage arrived, the lot at Mount
Vaughan was partially cleared, and Mr. Thomson had gathered a small
native school in a thatched house on the premises.
"On July 4th, 1837, Rev. Messrs. Minor and Payne joined Dr.
Savage. By this time the first Mission House at Mount Vaughan was
so far completed that, by putting up curtains, we managed to make out
three rooms for the Mission family.
"In the Mission field they found Rev. Dr. Wilson and associates of
the American Board occupying Cape Palmas, Rocktown, Fishtown, and
Half Cavalla ; and Rev. F. Burns, of the Methodist Mission, regularly
in the colony.
"The field immediately about the Cape being so well occupied, the
Protestant Episcopal Mission at once directed its efforts towards the
interior. Accordingly, while Mr. Payne officiated for a small colonist
congregation, and occasionally at ' Joe War's Town ' (not Hoffman
station), Grahway and Perebo, Mr. Minor was sent to make arrange-
ments to open a station at DihnS (Dinnah), on the Cavalla, thirty miles
from its mouth.
"The lot had been selected for the building and the plan of the house
decided upon when the people of Bareke, a larger town midway between
Mount Vaughan and Dihne, insisted upon our having a Mission station
at their place before going beyond them.
" As they commanded the road, we could do no better than fall back
on Bareke. Here, again, Mr. Minor had gone and selected a Mission
lot ; and King Tedi Blia had visited Mount Vaughan to complete arrange-
ments for building, when suddenly war broke out between Bareke and
the colony, and our progress was again arrested. Soon after this, Dr.
Wilson, of the American Board, and associates determined to remove
their Mission to the Gaboon River, and their stations about Cape
Palmas were gradually transferred to the Protestant Episcopal Mission."
"General Statistics of the Protestant Episcopal Mission at Capes
Palmas and Parts adjacent.
"We give this month the general statistics of our Mission. We
shall be most happy to receive from our brethren the coast statistics of
their Mission, and any items of intelligence connected therewith.
6 WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
three Anglo- Americans and their families. With excel-
lent sense the missionaries employ their pupils for a
short time in reading and writing, ciphering, and
psalmody, and for a long time in learning trades and
handicraft. Education is cheap; the poor pay but
2 cents, the rich $5, a year. They thus form a Civili-
zation Society; whilst others, neglecting all things save
the cure of souls, are successful in producing, as the
phrase is, more convicts than converts. They possess
however a great advantage in the collaboration of a
coloured population, not from Jamaica, or from what
"Stations. Colonists, 6 ; natives, 15. Total, 21.
" These Stations extend 270 miles along the coast, from Monrovia to
Taboo ; and seventy-five miles interior, from Cavalla to Bohlen.
"Missionaries. Foreign, 4; colonists, 4. Total, 8.
"Catechists, Teachers, and Assistants. Foreign, 5; colonial, 8.
and native, 18. Total, 31.
" Baptisms (past year returns imperfect). Infant, 13; adult, 21.
" Confirmations (past year), 37.
"Communicants. For eign and colonists, 211 ; native, 158. Total,
"Boarding Scholars. Colonists, 37; natives, 104. Total, 140.
"Day Scholars. Colonists, 133 ; natives, 250. Total, 383.
"Sunday Scholars. Colonists, 334 ; natives, 150. Total, 484.
" Candidates for Orders. Foreign, 1 ; colonists, 4 ; natives, 2.
"Field of labour of Liberia. Three counties, eight native tribes
aggregate population, 16,000.
"The Grebo language reduced to writing: Genesis, four Gospels,
Acts, Common Prayer Book (in part), Bible History, Life of Christ,
Hymn Book, Primer, Grebo History and Dictionary published in the
language. Also, printing press; paper the 'Cavalla Messenger'
SIX HOUES AT THE CAPE OF PALMS. 7
may perhaps be worse, Barbadoes, but from the United
States. Civilized and perfectly capable of managing
and utilizing their wild congeners, the colonists appear
in a most favourable light after the semi-reclaimed Akus
and Ibos, their northern neighbours. They have even
proposed to take charge of S'a Leone ; and I doubt not
that, if permitted, they would soon effect important
changes. Liberia is a Republic, that is to say, she is
pretty far gone in the ways of despotism the only fit
government for " Africa and the Africans/' "Mort-e alia
constituzione !" (in these lands) I exclaim with the un-
happy Florentines, when they marched in arms through
their streets and put a forcible end to a system which
imposed upon them by an ambitious and unscrupulous
media ceto, a dynasty of doctors, lawyers, professors, and
professional politic-mongers, enslaved them to 1000
rogues in esse, instead of to possibly one.
Liberia is at present in trouble; we heard many
rumours of wars, and saw martial preparations when on
shore. The Spanish vice-consul of Accra, who was on
board, did not disembark at Cape Palmas. At S'a Leone
our Frenchman there is always one on board in these
steamers had blurted out something which might not
have pleased H,I.M.S.S. La Ceres. According to him this
gun-boat had sailed from Fernando Po to settle a dispute
touching the Gallinhas River. She had entered the
harbour and had attacked the " Quail/' generally known
as the " Lively Quail/' in the harbour of Monrovia, and
had sunk her and her crew, receiving but a single shot
8 WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
through her cabin door. The " Quail" is an old schooner,
now carrying three guns one 32 -pounder and two
12-pounder carronades. She was presented by the
British Government to assist in the suppression of the
slave trade. She is one of the two that compose the
"Liberian Navy;" the other vessel, a gift from the
United States, never puts out to sea.
Now all this was a canard. The facts proved to be as
follows. Of course there are two versions of the affair :
that of the Spaniards, and that of the Liberians. I will
give precedence to the former.
The Spaniards assert that a small vessel named the
"Buenaventura Cubano," touched, on her way from Tene-
rife to Fernando Po, at the Gallinhas River, and was cast
upon rocks inside the bar. That the master, seeing an
opportunity, began to trade for palm-oil, when the "Quail"
of Liberia attacked her, hauled down the Spanish flag,
plundered the cargo, and compelled the master and men
to fly from assassination. That the goelette "La Ceres "
was sent for the purpose of demanding satisfaction at
Liberia, where, finding batteries and ships prepared to
attack her, she fired into the " Quail" and retired. They
deny the right of Liberia to the Gallinhas waters, and
they assert that were the contrary the case, as they have
neither treaties nor established usages with Liberia, that
the latter cannot be allowed to molest their subjects.
Finally, they demand suitable reparation for the offence,
and indemnification for the loss of the cause of dispute.
The Liberiaiis, on the other hand, declare that Prince
SIX. HOURS AT THE CAPE OF PALMS. 9
Mannah, the Chief of Gallinhas, reported to head-quarters
that a Spanish ship was in the river with slave gear on
board, and collecting her live cargo. That the " Quail/'
having ascertained these facts, captured her on the 30th
May, 1861, and was about to tow her to Monrovia
for judgment at the Admiralty Court, when the officer
commanding Her Majesty's ship "Torch" sent the prize
crew away, and hauled down the (single) star-spangled
banner of the Republic, and on the 13th June, 1861,
burned the Liberian prize. That, so far from injuring
the Spanish subjects, they had been permitted to go
to S'a Leone, where there is a Spanish consul-general,
and to take with them all necessary supplies ; moreover,
that Prince Mannah had provided them with a large canoe.
That the "Ceres/' having recounoitered the harbour
of Monrovia, returned about fourteen days afterwards,
and steamed in under pretext of visiting the President.
That without any warning she began firing, on the llth
September, 1861, into the " Quail," when the batteries
gave her such a dose that she was glad to make her
escape.* That the Gallinhas is within the Republic's
jurisdiction, and she is- bound by treaties with Great
Britain to suppress slavery within her dominions.
Finally, that her weakness is her strength quoad the
great Powers of Europe ; that one of them has weakened
her authority with the aborigines, and that she is entitled
* The "Cavalla Messenger" confirms this: "The ' Ceres' received so
spirited a response from the ' Quail, ' which was anchored under the
fort's guns, that she withdrew, having suffered, it is said, considerably."
10 WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
to reparation for the attack of the " Ceres" and remunera-
tion for the legal prize burned by the British officer.
This great question evidently turns upon the owner-
ship of the Gallinhas waters. In 1842, block-houses
were recommended to the British Government for the
suppression of slave trade evidently showing that in
those days it was not Liberian territory. In 1848 took
place the after-dinner conversation between Lord Ashley
and Mr. Gurney with Mr. President Roberts, and the
wily negro persuaded them that by paying 2000, slavery
would be eradicated from the Gallinhas River and,
700 miles annexed to the Republic. In 1849, H.M.S.
" Albert," Commander Dunlop, broke up the slave
factories they had been previously injured by Captain
Denham, R.N. and carried off European traders and
1200 slaves to S'a Leone. The Republicans, however,
insist that the land and the several points known as
the Gallinhas were bought on the 13th April, 1850,
from Prince Mannah and the other chiefs. On the
other hand, it is believed that the Prince totally denies
the transaction. As has already been said, Africans
have no idea of permanently alienating land which is
common property, not that of the king or chiefs ; even a
written contract implies, according to their ideas, only that
the stranger has the rights of citizenship and of personal
occupancy.* A joint commission is, I believe, in orders
* Of course our popular writers in "Chambers" and so forth assert that
the native chiefs transferred the sovereignty of their country to the
Liberian Government, and general readers believe them. It is thus
that history is written. Evidently the natives should be consulted,
SIX HOURS AT THE CAPE OF PALMS. 11
to settle the north-western limits of Liberia. Should
the Gallinhas fall to them, they purpose to establish
another port of entry either on that river or on the
Shebar, and where it would not be too near Roberts
Port, and to name it Gurney, after their late bene-
It would hardly be fair to leave Cape Palmas without
saying something touching its peculiar population. The
theme has been treated by every writer upon the subject
of this coast, Owen, Boteler, Smith, Wilson, Hutchinson,
and Durrant, not to mention dozens of others. Yet
there is more to say than has been said.*
The word Kru written Croo, Kroo, Krou, and, by
other writers, Carow and Crew, upon the principle that
Sipahi became Sepoy, or Seapie is a corruption of the
name by which the people call themselves " Krdo." It
is a small tribe, living about half-way between Cape
Mesurado and Cape Palmas, about seventy-five miles
above or to the north-west of the latter. The district
extends from twenty to thirty miles along the coast, and
and if the sale be bond fide it should be confirmed to Liberia, and vice
versd. At present, uncertainty causes much irritation, and the mer-
chants of Sierra Leone are preparing to assert their joint rights to the
Gallinhas by force if necessary.
* The following remarks concerning the origin of the Kru are derived
from information received from Bishop Payne, and from the Introduc.
lion to Ms Dictionary of the Grebo Language. New York : Jenkins,
Frankfort Street, 1860.
The little volume contains about 2500 words, or nearly half the
language. It is to be hoped that this excellent Minister of the Gospel
will soon publish his expected Grammar of the Grebo tongue.
12 WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
perhaps, as much into the interior. They had originally
five chief settlements, which, beginning from the north-
west, are Little Kru; Settra Kru the chief town, Krubah,
Nanna Kru, or Kru Settra, and King Will's Town. They
were the first to go to sea, and, as some twenty other
tribes, numbering, perhaps, 150,000 souls, followed their
example, all are now known by -the common name
Krumen. As Mr. M'Queen says, they never enslave one
another; yet they were the life and soul of the Spanish and
Portuguese slavers, and they proved themselves probably
the greatest kidnappers on the coast. They first began the
peculiar tattoo, which the adjoining tribes soon imitated,
and now they are in the habit of buying bushmen and
boy-slaves, and marking them like themselves, thus
transforming them to " Krumen," that they may be
engaged as seamen. When the slave-trade began to
decline, they preferred the service of ships of war and
merchantmen, they visited S'a Leone in considerable
numbers, and they became the Coolies and Lascars
of West Africa. They seem to be created purposely
for the oil trade.
The chief tribes that followed their example were the
people of Niffu, or Piccaninny Sess; the Bwidabe, or
Fishrnen; the Menawe of Grand Sess, the Wi&bo of
Garoway, the Babo below Cavalla River, the Plabo,* and
* On this part of the coast, all the places and tribes have double
names. The Cavalla River is called Dokrinyun ; Cape Monrovia,
Trubo ; Cape Mount, Chepe ; Drewin, Wayra ; St. Andrew's, Nisonti ;
and Settra Kru, Wete. Of individual names, more hereafter.
SIX HOUES AT THE CAPE OF PALMS. 13
others, extending to Cape St. Andrew's, and about forty
miles into the interior. Of these tribes, who are all
cognate, as their language and physique prove, the most
influential are the Grebos of Cape Palmas : the total
number, however, probably does not exceed 40,000.
Like the peoples generally upon the African coast, they
have lately come from the interior. Their own tradition
is, that a Kobo Kui, or foreign house no doubt some
European slave factory was found by them on arrival
at Cape Palmas. Their earliest settlements near the sea
were behind Berebi, sixty miles to the eastward. After
becoming too numerous for their narrow limits, a portion
of them determined, Irish-like, upon a kind of exodus
to the west. The movement was secretly managed,
because it was opposed to the wishes of the majority.
Whilst embarking, a number of canoes were capsized,
and those in them were left behind. They were called
Woribo, or the Capsized, from the verb Wore. The
others, who succeeded in bounding over the waves, took
the name of Grebo, from the jumping grey monkey,
Gre or Gri.
Proceeding up the coast, the Grebos landed detached
parties in the country now inhabited by the Bubos, at
Cavalla and at Cape Palmas, where they built small
temporary settlements. They continued their migration
as far as Grand Sesters, forty miles above Cape Palmas :
at length, directed by an oracle, they all gathered together
and built on the Cape of Cocoas a large town, called
Bwini, or Bwirnli. These wanderings account for the
14 WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA.
close analogy of the Grebo tongue and that of Sino
(written Siuori, or Sinoe), in N. lat. 5 l', or about
ninety miles to the north-west of Harper. At Grand
Sesters there are still large branches of the Grebo
family, and many merchant-ships prefer them as being
the best-conducted men. After them are the people of
Niffu, or Piccaninny Sesters. For fishing, the Fish-
men are the best servants.
Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to call the Grebo
"Krumen." As, however, the people of this coast
readily converse together, hold constant intercourse, and
are remarkably like one another in physique, as in
morale, they may be described as one, and the best
name for them is that which custom sanctions
The peculiar contrast of feature and figure which dis-
tinguishes this people has already been described.
The features are distinctly African, without an ad-
mixture of Arab; the conjunctiva is brown, yellow, or
tarnished, a Hamitic peculiarity ; and some paint white
goggle-like ovals round the orbits, producing the effect
of a " loup." This is sometimes done for sickness, and
invalids are rubbed over with various light and dark
coloured powders. The skin is very dark, often lamp-
black ; others are of a deep rich brown or bronze tint,
but a light-complexioned man is generally called Tom
Coffee ; and people put waggish questions touching his
paternity. They wear the hair, which is short and
kinky, in crops, which look like Buddha's skull-cap ;
SIX EOUES AT TEE CAPE OF PALMS. 15
and they shave when mourning for their relations : a
favourite "fash." is to scrape off a parallelogram behind
the head, from the poll to the cerebellum ; and others
are decorated in that landscape or parterre style which
wilder Africa and Germany love. The back of the
cranium is often remarkably flat, and I have seen many
heads of the pyramidal shape, rising narrow and pointed
high to the apex. The beard is seldom thick, and never
long ; the moustachio is removed, and the pile, like the
hair, often grows in tufts. The tattoo has been described :
there seems to be something attractive in this process
the English sailor can seldom resist the temptation.
They also chip, sharpen, and extract the teeth. Most
men cut out an inverted Y between the two middle
incisors of the upper jaw ; others draw one or two of