Frank H Hawkins.

Through lands that were dark : being a record of a year's missionary journey in Africa and Madagascar online

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Being a Record of a Year's Missionary Journey
in Africa and Madagascar



Foreign Secretary of the London Missionary Society for Africa, China
and Madagascar.

" To the Darkness and the Sorrow of the Night
Came the Wonder and the Qlory of the Light "


16, New Bridge Street, London, E.G.



This little Book is dedicated (without permission)
to the Friend whose generosity made it possible
for the journey herein recorded to be taken free
of any expense to the London Missionary Society

Table of Contents




I. Darkness and Light . . . . . . 13

II. The Light Spreading Northward .. 27

III. Tiger Kloof " A Lamp Shining in

a Dark Place " 62


TV. The Heart of the Dark Continent . . 66
V. The Brightness of His Rising . . . . 79


VI. Tananarive" A City set on a Hill " 106

VII. Imerina Country Districts " Fields

White Unto Harvest " . . . . 126

VIII. Betsileo " The Sombre Fringes of

the Night " 139

IX. Glad and Golden Days . . . . 149

List of Illustrations

Chief Khama Frontispiece

1. Map of South Africa 15

2. Kuruman Mission House.. .. facing 34

3. The New Kuruman Waggon . . 34

4. Tiger Kloof .. .. .. ,, 64

5. Map of Central Africa 67

6. Missionaries' Children . . . . facing 70

7. Native with Fish Trap . . . . 82

8. Kafukula Mission House.. . . 95

9. Map of Madagascar 109

10. Malagasy Girls at Girls' Home . . facing 121

11. Dr. and Mrs. Sibree . . . . 152

I hear a clear voice calling, calling,
Calling out of the night,
O, you who live in the Light of Life,
Bring us the Light !

We are bound in the chains of darkness,
Our eyes received no sight,
O, you who have never been bound or blind,
Bring us the Light !

We live amid turmoil and horror,
Where might is the only right,
O, you to whom life is liberty,
Bring us the Light !

We stand in the ashes of ruins,
We are ready to fight the fight,
O, you whose feet are firm on the Rock,
Bring us the Light !

You cannot you shall not forget us,
Out here in the darkest night,
We are drowning men, we are dying men,
Bring, O, bring us the Light !



This short record of a year's missionary journey in
Africa and Madagascar is written at the request of the
Directors of the London Missionary Society, and is based
upon a series of Journal Letters written to my family
and friends wjiile I have been on my travels. This fact
must be my excuse for writing in the first person. This
little book has been prepared in the midst of the pressure
of Secretarial work.

My visit to South Africa was a Secretarial visit. In
Central Africa and Madagascar I formed one of a Depu-
tation from the London Missionary Society. My colleague
in Central Africa was the Rev. W. S. Houghton of Bir-
mingham, and in Madagascar the other members of the
Deputation were Mr. Houghton and Mr. Talbot E. B.
Wilson of Sheffield.

It is not my purpose to attempt to give any description
of the three Mission Fields which it has been my
privilege to visit during the journey. Details with regard
to the countries and the peoples will be found in three
Handbooks published by the Society.*

* " South Africa " : Rev. W. A. Elliott (price 6d., post free 8d.) ;
'Central Africa": Mrs. John May, B.A. (price 6d., post free yd.) ;
"Madagascar": Rev. James Sibree, D.D., F.R.G.S. (price 6d., post
free 8d.). I am much indebted to the " Ten Years' Review " of the Mada-
gascar Mission, edited by Dr. Sibree (L.M.S., price as. 6d. net), for much
information embodied in the Madagascar section of the book.


Nor does the discussion of questions of missionary
policy or any account of the details of the work in the
various fields fall within the scope of this book. These
matters have been dealt with in Reports prepared
for the Directors of the Society. Further information
with regard to all the fields can be obtained in the
Society's Annual Report. Some account of Madagascar
and the missionary work there will be also found in a
book just published, entitled " Madagascar for Christ,"
being the Joint Report of the Simultaneous Deputations
from the London Missionary Society, The Friends'
Foreign Mission Association, and the Paris Missionary
Society, which have recently returned from Madagascar.*

The journey has been one of great fascination. From
the point of view of the traveller it has been full of interest.
From the point of view of a Secretary of a Missionary
Society carrying on work in the lands visited, the out-
standing impression has been that of the growing Christian
Church. In Central Africa that Church is in its infancy,
but it is an infancy full of promise. In South Africa
and Madagascar the Native Church is nearly a century
old. Its foundations have been well and truly laid,
and it exhibits all the signs of healthy life and growth.
As one travelled from station to station and came into
contact with the Native Church in all stages of develop-
ment and met the Native leaders of that Church, one
looked into the future and saw a vision of a Church
which would one day become not only self-supporting

* Copies can be obtained at the L.M.S., 6d. net, post free 8d.


and self-governing, but so possessed with the missionary
spirit that it would be an instrument in God's hands
for evangelising the peoples amongst whom it is now
set as a lamp in the night. One hundred years ago
and less these lands were in gross darkness ; to-day the
curtains of the night are being lifted and long closed
doors are wide open to the light. The darkness has
turned to dawning and the growing Church is becoming
" a burning and a shining light " in the lands which
aforetime sat " in darkness and in the shadow of death."

F. H. H.

January, 1914.

Through Lands That Were Dark


Darkness and Light

A land of lights and shadows intervolved,
A land of blazing sun and blackest night.


South Africa exercises a great charm over those who
visit it. It is a land of sunshine. An unkind critic has
described it as "a land of trees without shade, rivers
without water, flowers without scent, and birds without
song." It is a land of vast distances and sparse popula-
tion. The portion of the African Continent which is
popularly referred to as " South Africa " is that part
which lies south of the Zambesi. This great expanse of
country is as large as Europe without Russia, Scandinavia
and the British Isles, but its entire population is less
than that of greater London.

I left England in the late autumn and arrived at Cape
Town seventeen days later in the early summer. London


fog was exchanged for a land of lovely flowers and luscious
fruits. Cape Town has been so often described that
I will not dwell upon its beauties or attempt to draw a
picture of Table Mountain, The Devil's Peak, The Lion's
Head, or The Twelve Apostles.

My first impression and it is a lasting one was
of the abounding kindness and hospitality of the
Colonials wherever I went. On the day of my arrival
I was entertained by the Executive Committee of the
Congregational Union of South Africa. On the follow-
ing day I was the guest of the Archbishop of Cape
Town at his lovely home at Bishopscourt, where I
met fourteen South African Bishops in full canonicals
gathered together for their Annual Synod. Bishopscourt
is a beautiful old Dutch House with a far-famed garden
which surpassed in luxuriance of colour anything I had
ever seen except in Japan. All through South and
Central Africa I was often the guest of Government
officials and European residents, and everywhere received,
as the representative of the Society, a warm welcome
and the utmost hospitality and kindness.

My next impression was of the great contribution
which the London Missionary Society has made to the
public life and development of Cape Colony and South
Africa generally, quite apart from the direct work which
its missionaries have been able to accomplish. Evidences
of the value of this contribution abounded everywhere I
went. In Cape Town I had the pleasure of meeting
the Hon. W. P. Schreiner, who was the Prime Minister
of Cape Colony at the outbreak of the Boer War. Mr.

_ ,*m ^ s i$sffi''



Schreiner is now a member of the Senate, specially
chosen to represent the interests of the Native population.
He is recognised as the leading lawyer in South Africa.
I also met his brother, Mr. Theophilus Schreiner, who
is also a member of the Legislature and is well-known
as a leading Temperance advocate. Their sister, Olive
Schreiner, the authoress of " The Story of an African
Farm," is known wherever English literature is read.
This distinguished family are the children of an L. M. S.

It is not often that three brothers receive the honour of
knighthood for public services. Sir William Solomon, Sir
Saul Solomon and the late Sir Richard Solomon (who was
Agent-General for the Commonwealth of South Africa,
and who died a few weeks ago) are sons of an L. M. S.
Missionary. In its Review of the year 1913, the Times
speaks of Sir Richard Solomon as " the most distinguished
South African of his generation, a man who was loved
by his intimates and respected by all for his ability
and efficiency," and of Sir William Solomon as " an
eminent judge."

Dr. Mackenzie, the leading physician in Kimberley ;
his brother, Dr. W. Douglas Mackenzie, the Principal
of the Hartford Theological Seminary, U.S.A. ; and
another brother, at present Solicitor-General for Southern
Rhodesia, are three sons of John Mackenzie, the mis-
sionary-statesman of South Africa and Lord Rosebery's
friend, who had so much to do with the making of history
in South Africa thirty years ago. I need only mention
other families whose names are household words in


South Africa, and whose representatives are to be found
in many places the Philips, the Moffats, the Kaysers,
the Andersons, the Helms, the Rose-Innes, to show how
large a part the L. M. S. has indirectly played in building
up the Commonwealth of South Africa.

Throughout Cape Colony I found numerous Congre-
gational Churches of coloured people at places which
were formerly Mission Stations of the Society. Amongst
others, Pacaltsdorp, Kruisfontein, Hankey, Port Eliza-
beth, King Williams Town, and Fort Beaufort were
visited. The Society many years ago withdrew its
missionaries and left these Churches to develop along
their own lines into self-governing communities, sup-
porting their own pastorate and carrying on their own
work. Wherever one went,' one found evidences of
the great part which the Society had played in
days gone by in planting churches which are now inde-
pendent, thus contributing both to the civilisation and
evangelization of the peoples of the land. Passing
reference may be made to one of these Churches which
I visited. In the Brownlee location at King Williams
Town I found at work the Rev. John Harper, who nearly
thirty years ago exchanged his position as a missionary
of the Society for that of pastor of the Congregational
Church. For forty-five years he has laboured there as
the minister of the Kaffir Church in the Native Location
and in charge of nineteen out-stations. This veteran
not only ministers to the spiritual needs of a very large
congregation, but acts both as doctor and lawyer to
all the natives. In 1912 he treated 4,000 patients and


acted as guide, philosopher and friend to the members
of his congregations, advising them in all their difficulties,
drawing up their wills for them and ever looking after
their temporal and spiritual interests. Many of these
coloured Churches are now served by ministers of their
own race, who have been trained for the pastorate.

From Cape Town I proceeded to Great Brak River
and paid a short visit to Mr. Thomas Searle, who for
some years has been the Society's Agent for its properties
at Hankey and Kruisfontein. The history of the Searle
family at Great Brak River during the last fifty years
affords a good example of the contribution to the develop-
ment of the Colony which Christian families have been
able to make.

On the 3ist December, 1859, tne ^ ate Mr. Charles
Searle arrived at Great Brak River with his wife and
four children to take up the position of toll-keeper at
the Causeway carrying the main road over the river.
The toll-house was the only habitation in the place.
Mr. Searle erected a house for the accommodation of
travellers, and afterwards a shop and a store. Four
more children were born. He purchased a farm of 354
acres for 91, and spent some money in constructing
water-furrows. A church was built. The business grew
and subsequently a tannery and boot-and-shoe factory
were started. Branch stores were afterwards established
at George, Oudtshoorn, Heidelberg, Riversdale and a
wholesale depot at Mossel Bay. Mr. Searle had three
sons, Charles, William, and Thomas, who entered the
business, and now direct the Limited Company, which


has been formed to carry it on. As the place grew
the Searles successfully opposed all applications for a
licence for the sale of intoxicating drinks, and to-day
there is no licence between Mossel Bay, 16 miles to the
west, and George, i8| miles to the east. The present
population of Great Brak River exceeds 900, all of whom
are in the employ of, or dependent on, the Searles, except
the doctor, the post-master and the school-teacher. At
first, all the employees were coloured people. Latterly,
however, white people have also been employed, but
they are treated exactly in the same way as the coloured
people and receive the same wages as coloured people
doing similar work. A very large new factory is now
being built. Mr. Thomas Searle preaches regularly in
the spacious church. Dutch is the language spoken.
There is an excellent golf course. About six years
ago old Mr. and Mrs. Charles Searle died. They and
other members of the family are buried in the beautiful
little private cemetery in Mr. Thomas Searle's garden
the first of numerous garden burial places I saw in
different places in the Colony. The three sons continue
to reside in Great Brak River honoured and esteemed
by the whole countryside.

While at Great Brak River I paid a visit to Pacaltsdorp,
an old L. M. S. station founded 100 years ago, where
the Rev. G. B. Anderson, whose father and grandfather
were L. M. S. missionaries, is pastor. A massive stone
Church was erected in 1824, and is a memorial to the
Rev. Charles Pacalt, who devoted his salary to the
building of the Church. In addition to being pastor.


Mr. Anderson is also schoolmaster, post-master, registrar
of births, marriages and deaths and agent for the Society's
property known as Hansmoeskraal farm.

Mr. Searle kindly took me in his motor car to visit
Kruisfontein and Hankey, where the Society still owns
property. The South African roads are not constructed
for motor car traffic. They defy description and I shall
not soon forget this journey. The gradients are very
bad, the surface execrable. The ruts, rocks, stones and
especially the sand made rapid travel in a motor car
a mixed pleasure. Rivers, and more often dry river-
beds, had to be crossed. For the most part the roads
were very narrow and were often over-hung with trees
and prickly-pear, constantly blocked by great ox-waggons
with teams of fourteen to eighteen oxen, or by goats,
sheep, pigs, cows and more often than all by ostriches,
which seemed to take a delight in trying to race the car.
In spite of, or perhaps partly because of, these draw-backs,
however, the journey was most enjoyable. Some parts
were very wild and desolate, but others were scenes of
sylvan beauty. There were mountain passes, ravines,
funereal forests (in one of which wild elephants are still
to be found), fairy glens and water- falls (often with very
little water on account of the prolonged drought), and
in turn one was reminded of the Pass of Glencoe, the
Barmouth Estuary, the Precipice Walk, Dolgelley, the
New Forest and the Highlands of Scotland.

Hankey is a name well known to all interested in the
work of the L. M, S. in South Africa. Through the
engineering skill of one of the missionaries applied to


the construction of a tunnel through a narrow mountain
ridge, the waters of the Gamtoos River were made
available for watering the Hankey valley, and ever since
the desert has " blossomed as the rose." Above this
tunnel, near the top of the mountain, is a remarkable
natural feature known as " The Window." It is a
large opening in the rocky ridge through which a beau-
tiful landscape can be seen on both sides.

Another feature of Hankey which impresses a stranger
from Europe is the frogs' chorus every evening rising
from an innumerable multitude of these amphibious
reptiles which infest the fields and water-furrows. They
are known as the canaries of South Africa, and reminded
one of the music so characteristic of the rice fields of
Central China.

At Hankey there is a large Church of coloured people,
representing an old mission station of the Society, and
an Institution for the training of teachers now under
the control of the South African Congregational Union.
Through the sale of the Society's property a considerable
population of Europeans has been attracted to Hankey,
and I had the honour during my visit of opening the
new European Church.

From Hankey I proceeded to Port Elizabeth, where I
was again hospitably entertained. I had an opportunity
of meeting the Congregational ministers and the leading
laymen at a Reception, and learnt much of the con-
tribution of the L. M. S. to the development of
this part of South Africa. The coloured Church there
for so many years ministered to by the Rev. William


Dower, formerly a missionary of the Society, is another
instance of a strong self-supporting and self-governing
Church which has grown out of the missionary work of
years gone by. On the occasion of my visit it was
crowded from floor to ceiling with a congregation of
coloured people, who are under the pastoral care of a
young and able coloured minister.

After leaving Port Elizabeth I had the privilege of
paying a visit to two of the greatest Native Institutions
in South Africa. At Healdtown, near Fort Beaufort,
the Wesleyans are carrying on a great work in the training
of Native Teachers. There are 185 boy and 84 girl
boarders. The results obtained in the Government
examinations are the best in the Colony. The students
come from all parts ; most of them are Kaffirs. The
medium of instruction is English. This great work
is mainly the result of the blessing of God upon the
labours of one man, Principal R. F. Hornabrook, who
is in supreme control. The Institution is nominally in
charge of a Committee which, however, has not met for
ten years. When he commenced work there twenty-two
years ago there were thirty-three students. Mr. Horna-
brook is his own architect and builder. He is also a
farmer and a doctor. The fees charged are 12 a year,
and there is a large Government grant. Some small
help is given by the Wesleyans in South Africa. " Not
a penny comes from England. The buildings are
quite unambitious in character, and for the most part
have been erected from the profits made from carrying
on the Institution. The whole enterprise is a triumph


of organisation. There are four white men teachers,
three white lady teachers, two matrons and several
coloured teachers. The course is three years, and the
students must have passed the sixth standard before
they enter. All have a little manual labour to do, but
there is no industrial department except so far as it is
necessary to teach woodwork. All sorts of difficulties
have had to be surmounted, the chief physical one being
the water-supply, which is now satisfactorily provided
by a windmill. The whole Institution is a monument of
what can be done by one man with comparatively small
funds. Mr. Hornabrook is doing great things for South

From Healdtown I journeyed to Lovedale, the centre
of the world-famed labours of Dr. James Stewart, who
will always be known as " Stewart of Lovedale." This
is an Institution carried on by the Free Church of Scot-
land. There are 550 boarders from all parts of South
Africa, and of these 155 are girls. There is also a " prac-
tising school " with 210 children. The fees range from
12 to 16 a year. Since the Institution was commenced
considerably over 100,000 has been received in fees.
Preachers and teachers for the South African Churches
and schools are trained here. The industrial work
is widely known. The Natives are taught carpentry,
waggon-making, smith's work, printing, bookbinding,
boot and shoe making, office work, needle and laundry
work, horticulture and many other industrial pursuits.

The present Principal is the Rev. James Henderson,
formerly of the Nyasaland Mission. The Warden of the


Boys' department is Dr. Moore Anderson, a son of Sir
Robert Anderson, at one time Chief of the Metropolitan
Police Force. On the staff there is the famous South
African astronomer, Dr. Roberts. It was good to find
the daughter of one of our present South African mis-
sionaries occupying a responsible position in the Girls'
department. Words fail me to describe the great work
which is being done. The Institution is an enduring
memorial to the ability and devotion of Dr. Stewart.
Over the grave of this great and good man, which I
visited, is the simple inscription, " James Stewart,
Missionary." On the hill-top is a huge stone monument
erected to his memory.

On leaving Lovedale I journeyed via King Williams
Town, Blaney Junction, and De Aar to Kimberley. The
railway meanders in and out amongst the hills through
picturesque scenery. Great rocks are much in evidence.
On the latter part of the journey I passed numerous
block-houses and stretches of galvanised wire fencing
reminiscent of the Boer war. Here as elsewhere the
country has an unfinished look about it. Most of the
buildings are of galvanised iron. Long distances were
traversed without any signs of human habitation, and
where such signs appeared they were not always pleasing.
The wretched huts of " red-blanket kaffirs," and the
abject poverty in which they live, showed that there
is still much to be done to raise the native inhabitants
out of their degradation and to teach them to live decent

In order to see at first-hand the conditions under


which so many of the Bechuanaland Natives live in the
Compounds of the great De Beers' Diamond Mines, I
visited Kimberley. Dr. Mackenzie kindly took me over
the diamond mine workings and one of the Compounds.
From these mines the bulk of the world's supply of dia-
monds comes. I was very pleased with what I saw in
the Compound I visited, where 4,762 natives were
quartered. The annual death rate is only eight per
thousand, about half that of London. Every provision
is made for the comfort, health and well-being of the
native workers. There is an admirable hospital and a
well-organised store, where the necessaries of life are to
be obtained at cost price. The fact that the natives are
well cared for is evidenced by the popularity of the work
in the Kimberley mines all over South Africa. Natives
who have worked there return again and again for a
further period. There can be no doubt that the restraint
upon their liberty, to which they voluntarily submit while
at work in the mines, is greatly to their advantage, and
the facilities which exist for the remitting of wages to
their families obviate, to a great extent, the risks they
would run if they left the Compound with large sums of
money in their possession. Nor are their spiritual
needs neglected.

While at Kimberley I paid a visit to Barkly West,
formerly a mission station of the Society for many years,
associated with the name of William Ashton. From
Kimberley I proceeded to Tiger Kloof. I shall refer to
the great work which is being carried on there later in

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Online LibraryFrank H HawkinsThrough lands that were dark : being a record of a year's missionary journey in Africa and Madagascar → online text (page 1 of 10)