Harold Michell.

An introduction to the geography of Sierra Leone online

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and supply, they were forced to transfer their plant
to the Gold Coast. It is, however, still a busy collect-
ing centre, as it lies near a fine belt of palms.

Rotifunk on the railway, nearer Freetown than Boia,
is a trading centre, the people being chiefly Sherbros
and Temnes. It has direct communication with the
sea, and it is interestin"j as beincj one of the first towns
in the Protectorate where mission work was attempted.
Here and at Taiama almost 12 miles north of Mano,
"several missionaries lost their lives during the insur-
rection of 1898.



74 An / nfro(]i(Ction to the

The Koinadiigu District occin)ies the northern part
of the Protectorate, and is bounded by the Karene
District on the west, the Konnoh sub-district on the
east, and the French territory on the north. The
district is very hilly and the soil very rocky, good soil
only being found in the valleys, which are exceedingly
fertile.

Koinadugu is thinly populated, chiefly by Limbas,
Korankos and Yalunkas. Generally the people are not
energetic. In the grass country there are large herds
of cattle, and in the north-east, bordering on the French
territory, there are forest lands where elephants still
roam. Some rice, fundi (millet) and ground-nuts,
especially in the northern parts, are grown, besides
cassava and sweet potatoes.

Probably the future prosperity of this district lies
in increasing and improving the cattle which are the
finest and most numerous in the Protectorate; and,
possibly, also in the production of ground-nuts.

At present there is very little trade of importance
in the district other than a steady overland trade in
hides, cattle, kola and pahn kernels, partly to the rail-
way w^hich penetrates the district as far as Kamabai,
and partly to the surrounding districts. The head-
quarters of the district are at Kaballa, which is
situated in the north of the district among the hills.

The Sherbro District is situated within the Colony,
and consists of a group of islands lying at the mouths
of the Bagru, Jong, and Kittam Rivers. The islands
are few in number, the most important being the islands
of Sherbro, York, and the Turtle Islands.

Roughly, the total area of this district is 290 square
miles, and the estimated population about 22,000, con-
sisting chiefly of Sierra Leoneans, Mendes, and Sher-
bros, with of course Europeans and Syrians. Although
belonging to the Colony proper, this district is adminis-
tered much in the same way as a district of the Protec-
torate, although the Port of Sherbro, i.e., Bonthe and
its suburbs, has been constituted a judicial district of
the Colonv.



ll



Geography of Sierra Leone. 75

The chief industries of the people are farming,
chiefly of cassava, fishing and fish drying principally
for the Freetown market, and petty trading.

Much of Sherbro Island is mangrove swamp, but in
parts the soil is good, although inclined to be sandy,
and much more than cassava could be cultivated.
Coco-nut palms, oil palms, and piassava palm grow-
well on the Atlantic side of the island; but very little
attempt, if any, at definite cultivation is made, although
a certain amount of cocoa is grown, and some coffee
at Jamaica.

Generally speaking, this district, particularly the
capital Bonthe, owes its importance to the fact that it
is the collecting centre for an immense palm district,
the produce being brought down chiefly by water.
Further, the port of Bonthe is accessible from the sea
by ocean-going steamships, so that the produce may be
exported direct without first sending it to Freetown,
and from a fifth to a quarter of the total exports of the
Colony and Protectorate are sent away from Bonthe in
ordinary times.

The capital, Bonthe, w^hich has been dealt with else-
where, is the headquarters of the District Commis-
sioner, and is connected via Bendu in the Northern
Sherbro District across the river by telegraph to
Freetown.



76 l" Infrorluciion to the

Chapter VI.
FORESTS AND FOREST PRODUCTS.

In Sierra Leone there are two kinds of Forests, the
typical tropical forest and the woodlands., i.e., where
the tropical forests merge into savannahs. The tropical
forests produce trees of roughly 100 feet and over, and
are very dense, with thick undergrowth, and these
forests produce much valuable timber, increase the
rainfall and conserve it, and provide economic products
such as gum, rubber, fibres, etc.

The woodland forests are more open, the trees are
further apart, and rarely exceed 30 feet in height, and
these give evidence of the struggle which is always
proceeding between grassland and woodland.

Grasses remain dormant during the dry season,
which in Sierra Leone is well-defined and long. Grass
is not affected to the same extent as trees by extremes
of temperature or absence of moisture, and fires do not
seriously affect the revival of grass, as is the case with
trees. Trees have to rely almost entirely on the moisture
in the ground and in the air in order to survive the diy
season, so that in this country the conditions are in
favour of the grasses.

It has been estimated that 99 per cent, of the original
tropical forests in this country have been destroyed by
the natives chiefly in their wasteful and extravagant
methods of farming.

This has been brought about by a variety of causes.
The population has increased owing largely to the
absence of tribal wars, and the demand for food has
naturally increased.

In the past, small areas near well-defended towns
were cultivated, and the portions given about nine years
to recoup, thus allowing the forest to establish itself
again, but now the average time of rest is only about




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Online LibraryHarold MichellAn introduction to the geography of Sierra Leone → online text (page 6 of 10)