Joseph H. (Joseph Hankinson) Reading.

A voyage along the western coast, or, Newest Africa : a description of newest Africa, or the Africa of to-day and the immediate future online

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Online LibraryJoseph H. (Joseph Hankinson) ReadingA voyage along the western coast, or, Newest Africa : a description of newest Africa, or the Africa of to-day and the immediate future → online text (page 11 of 17)
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how many are living there. Java and Ceylon are nearer
the equator, and they not only have a large population of
Europeans, but they find the climate well suited to them.
Then look on this piazza ; if we can live here, why cannot
they ? We have each of us spent from ten to twenty years
in this land, and as far as I can see we are none the worse
for it. Certain it is that many of our friends who have
remained at home have died, while we who have come to
this new country are hale and hearty ; I see no reason why
this country, especially the hills and the higher plateaus,
should not support a large Anglo-Saxon population."

" But how about the fever? " inquired Mr. Schiff.

"Judging from the way you enjoy Mr. Holmes' cock-
tails," replied Mr. King, " it don't seem to me the fever has



OLD CALABAR.

hurt you much. But I must say I look upon the fever as a
good thing, Tor if it was not for that we should live forever.
A country that has no consumption, pneumonia, diphtheria,
typhoid or scarlet fever, cancer and a few more things,
needs something to thin out the population a little or else
it would become necessary to shoot a man when you wanted
a funeral. Does the fever affect the natives of this country ?
Is it any more severe than it is in Cuba, or even our own
Gulf States when northerners go down there ? Is it any
worse than it is in Arkansas, or Central America, or Rio
Janeiro ? Yet hosts of our own people live there, and so
may they here. I grant you that in every new country the
death rate is higher than in older communities, and so it
will doubtless be here ; but that cannot be helped. Why
when Illinois was first settled the malaria was so bad it was
thought the state must remain a wilderness, and now it
contains a city that in another century will have ten million
of inhabitants and will be the greatest city on earth. I am
forty years old now, and if I live to be an old man, I expect
to see a city on Lake Tchad almost equal to what Chicago
is to-day."

"Things will have to change very much if you do,"
exclaimed Mr. Hartley. " That is just what they will,"
asserted Mr. King. " The world has now entered upon an
era of development, and the state of affairs in new countries
like this will change very rapidly. If this railway were
built with the same energy as our own Pacific roads (and
the difficulties are no greater), it could be finished in from
three to four years, and it would work a complete revolution
in trade, and all affairs of the country. Colonists would
come out here by the thousand, instead of going to Brazil
as they are now doing, and large companies would soon
convert the lowlands into rice, sugar and tobacco estates."

" How long would it take vessels of the City of Paris
type to run out here?" inquired Mr. Alexander.

ix 129



OLD CALABAR.

" I am not quite sure," replied Captain Thompson,
" whether the City of Paris could come up the river, but if
she could, I think it would take nearly or quite nine days.
If vessels of the size and power of the City of Paris were
built with flat bottoms, they could then cross the bar, and
might arrive here the ninth day."

" That is only half the time required for the voyage to
Bombay," said Mr. Alexander, " and less than half the time
to Calcutta, so that this colon}- would be only half as far
from England as India is. Moreover it has the advantage
of a broad highway hither, for there are no canals or narrow
straits to pass through, but the whole width of the Atlantic
ocean if necessary."

" In looking upon this country," said Mr. King, " as
the future home of millions of our race, it should not be
overlooked that the plantain everywhere flourishes, for it is
destined to play an important part in all calculations as to
food supplies. Humbolt estimated that an acre of plantains
produced one hundred and thirty-three times as much
nourishment as an acre of wheat. Thus a family need not
plant more than an acre with this vegetable to have all the
food it needs for a year, and some to sell besides. An acre
of ground in plantains, and another acre in fruit trees, such
as breadfruit, oranges, limes, pears, mangosteens and guavas,
with a good sized vegetable garden, would make a living
for a peasant family, and they could enjoy one of the finest
climates on earth, and have as happy a home as it falls to
the lot of man to enjoy. If we allowed to each family six
acres, including roads and dooryards, it would admit of one
hundred families to the square mile, or say, five hundred
persons. This is a dense population, and yet this rich soil
and warm sun will easily support that number."

" How many plantains do you calculate can be produced
on an acre ? " asked Mr. Alexander.



130



OLD CALABAR.

"If they were planted eight feet apart each way,"
replied Mr. King, " there would be six hundred and eighty
plants to the acre, and these would average rather more
than one bunch a year, so that a family would have more
than they could eat. But in reckoning on the produce of
an acre of plantains we must not forget the value of the
fibre ; this, when carefully extracted by the proper machinery,
is worth more than the fruit. The sale of the stalks for
fibre would bring in a nice income which would help
support the family, or it might, if necessary, be devoted to
purchasing potash and nitrates to be used in keeping up or
increasing the fertility of the land."

" I have heard of this fibre before," said Mr. Gilles,
" and I do not doubt it will yet bring more money to the
country than palm oil does now. It not only makes good
paper stock, but the best of it is made into ropes and is used
in many ways that I do not fully understand."

" The value of the plantain," added Mr. Lyon, " is not
fully appreciated by any of us ; I do not doubt that it will
become the most valuable of all food plants to man."

" I do not see," remarked Mr. Alexander, " why as fine
a quality of tobacco may not be raised in the Soudan, as is
now grown in Cuba ; both countries are in the same latitude,
and the soil is as rich and all the conditions appear to be
favorable."

" It can be grown just as well without a doubt,"
responded Mr. King. " On the coast, a few miles north of
Batanga, a German has been raising tobacco for several
years. It is of sufficiently fine quality to bring a dollar a
pound in the Hamburg market. As something like four
hundred pounds can be grown to the acre, it is easy to see
that the crop is a most valuable one. But there is no need
of exporting it in the leaf, for it can as well be made into
cigars here, and a large market would be available right on



'3'



OLD CALABAR.

the Coast. A considerable portion of the Cuban crop is
made up on the island, and so it might just as well be here."

" The natives of the Ogowe," said Mr. Schiff, " raise
considerable tobacco, which they cure and make into long
braids. We often buy it for smoking. It has a peculiar
flavor, quite different from the American article. I have
sent some of it to my friends in Germany, and they say
they like it very much. I do not know much about farm-
ing, but I know enough to feel sure that tobacco of fine
quality could be grown in any quantity desired. For im-
part I should like to see these niggers set to work in the
tobacco and cane fields, where they belong ; they have
run wild long enough."

This remark brought on an animated discussion of the
labor question, and it was fully agreed that the best good
of the country, and the only hope of the African race, lay
in some sort of compulsory labor, for if left to themselves,
they will surely be destroyed by rum, venereal diseases and
other causes. There is not a coast port, nor any con-
siderable trading village where this process is not now
going on. The native population in many coast ports is
only kept up, as it is in Paris, by continued accessions
from the Provinces. The American Indians, the Sand-
wich Islanders, and many other nations, show plainly what
will happen when a savage race is brought into contact
with civilization. The instincts of a savage lead him to
indulge in the evil which civilization offers, and to refuse
the good. Nor is it sufficient to say " give them the
Gospel." The Sandwich Islanders had the Gospel, as will
never be true of the negro, and yet they are rapidly dying
out. On the other hand the negro increased when set to
work in America, even under the iniquitous system of
slavery. It is perfectly certain that in daily toil is the
corrective to the evils which civilization presents to the
savage ; not slavery, but enforced industry, paid for at its

T 3 2



OLD CALABAR.

full market value. In such a community the Gospel will
be welcomed, and will be effective upon men's minds.
Such gross evils as intoxication and licentiousness must be
controlled by law, and then in time the Negro race, like the
Anglo-Saxon, will be able to stand alone. The Negro race
is now able to stand alone in the Southern States of
America. It is not a bright and shining example we
admit ; but it exists and increases ; indeed, it is now
increasing faster than the whites. If the Indians had been
set to work and kept sober, the same would now be true of
them, but every one knows the}' are destined soon to pass
from the earth. Let the nations of the earth take warning,
and before it is too late, enact such measures as will lead
to preserve the African race, and at the same time make it
valuable in developing the beautiful and fertile continent
that God has given them. It will be a thousand pities if
affairs are allowed to drift along carelessly until it is too
late to save this valuable race from destruction. Con-
gresses of various kinds, passing resolutions, and then
going home about their business, a species of moral amuse-
ment which the National Governments are indulging in,
will never do any good. What effect will a " Congress "
in Brussels or Berlin have on the distant African trader ?
It will probably make him laugh. The only way to
govern Africa is to set up on African soil a good, wise,
stable government, with one of the first-class nations at
its back. Let regular British, American or German
colonies be formed, and let the colonial government be
administered for the good of Africa, and not of the mother
country. The curse of most colonial governments in the
tropics has been that these colonies were managed to bring
profit only to the mother country, and not simply to benefit
the colonies themselves. The salvation of such colonies as
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Cape, has been
that a large immigration from the mother country has com-

'33



OLD CALABAR.

pelled the administration of colonial affairs for the benefit
of the colonies. Give Africa a fair chance, especially the
Sondan, and it will not be long before immigration will flow
thither, and a vast Anglo-Saxon nation will eventually be
formed that will rival in power and influence the United
States of America.

The party broke up at eleven o'clock, and Captain
Thompson took his passengers to the Kisanga. It was a
lovely night. The stars were shining brightly and the
palm fronds rustled gently in the evening breeze, while the
native town appeared in the moonlight like a broad succes-
sion of roofs, from under which flashed here and there the
light from lamps and torches, showing that the people were
not vet asleep. As the boat came alongside the steamer
thev found the quartermaster on watch was at the foot of
the ladder to welcome them, and it was not long before
each one was in his room, and " turned in " for the night."

By sunrise the next morning Mr. Lyon's boat was
alongside, and after a cup of black coffee, and a bit of toast
and jam, the four passengers got in and were rowed rapidly
up the river. East India bamboos have been planted upon
hillsides, and these great fronds, heavy with dew, drooped
toward the river like great ostrich plumes nodding a
o-racious welcome to our friends as they passed. Mr. Lyon
met them at the top of the stairway that leads up at the
end of the pier, and at once showed them over his well
arranged establishment.

Mr. Lyon's place is the farthest up the river of any of
the factories. It is half way round the bend, so that an
excellent view may be had of the river, the shipping, the
foreign settlement, and in the far distance the native town
and the Scotch Mission on the top of the hill. There is a
large town on the hillside behind the factory, but it is quite
hidden from sight by the dense foliage.



i34



OLD CALABAR.

Two piers have been built out into the river, one of
which is covered its entire length, and the other is open.
There is a heavy crane at the end of each to raise and
lower cargo from the boats and canoes. The covered pier
is a busy place, for here the oil is raised from the canoes of
the native traders, sampled, emptied into great cauldrons,
where it is heated by steam, run into new casks, and pre-
pared for shipment. A railway track runs from the end of
the pier to the warehouses in the yard, and heavy beams
inside the rails are arranged for rolling the great casks of
oil upon, so that they are removed without an}- trouble.
The platform cars on the railway are used to bring sacks
of kernels or billets of ebony to the end of the pier, where
they are lowered into boats for shipment, and for transport-
ing salt and other merchandise to the various storehouses.
When kernels are brought they are measured in tubs and
thrown into a bin, where an endless belt with tin buckets
affixed to it carries the kernels to a higher bin, from which
they descend through a chute to where arrangements are
made for bagging them ; they are then thrown upon the
platform car and rolled away to the storehouses to await
shipment. The power to run this belt, and also the steam
to boil the oil is furnished by an upright, stationary boiler
and engine. This engine also saws wood, pumps water,
turns a grindstone and makes itself generally useful.
When oil or kernels are purchased on the pier, the seller
receives a due-bill for the amount of the purchase, which
he can at once present in the shop and receive the goods
therefor ; or, he can keep it until such time as suits his
convenience to take his pay. Usually he does not care to
take any goods until he is ready for a journey up river;
then he calls with his canoes, loads in rum, tobacco, cloth,
iron pots, dishes, soap, salt and other articles, and goes up
to the up-river markets, where he buys oil from the bush-
men and brings it down to sell again.

i35



OLD CALABAR.

Besides this wholesale business, there is also a retail
trade, in which the medium of exchange is small brass rods.
These rods are the least profitable of all the goods imported,
and the trader is glad to get them back again in exchange
for fine cloths, caps, umbrellas, shirts, bonnets, shoes, fancy
liquors, perfumery, hair oil, rice, codfish, butter, tinned
meat and many other articles. In the wholesale trade a
certain proportion of each due-bill is paid in brass rods,
and those rods then serve as the spending money for the
native trader's family. Whenever anything is wanted from
the store, the women go out shopping with a lot of those
rods in their hands, much as an American woman carries
her purse.

Near the shop door were seventeen hogsheads of
American leaf tobacco resting in a row under a shed. Mr.
Lyon informed his visitors that he would probably dispose
of that amount in a month. It seemed a pity that all this
tobacco should be imported when every pound of it might
be so easily raised in the country. Indeed a large share of
the cargo imported might even now be produced in the
colony, as for instance cloth from native cotton, iron pots
from the iron found in the hills, dishes, soap, salt, rice,
meat, etc. These and many other articles might just as well
be produced at home.

One hundred years ago Australia had fewer industries
than Africa has even now ; to-day Australia is a great
nation. One hundred years ago, steam as a motive power
was unknown ; the same is true of electricity ; what Aus-
tralia and America required one hundred years to accomplish
will occur in Africa within the next quarter of a century.
There are men now living who will see as large and
valuable manufactories in the Soudan as are to-day to be
found in Manchester and Sheffield ; while the advance in
real estate after a few years will exceed anything ever
known in the Western States of America. India has to-day

136



OLD CALABAR.

ten thousand miles of railway ; build half that length of
track through the Soudan, connecting with the sea at Old
Calabar, Cape Coast and Sierra Leone, and in a few years
emigration to America will entirely cease, being attracted
by the greater inducements presented by Africa.

Mr. Lyon's establishment is a model of neatness and
order ; everything had a place, and everything was in its
place. Not a loud word was spoken, but everything moved
along the even tenor of its way and every face bore a con-
tented and happy expression. The master's care for his
men was seen in the clean and pleasant quarters provided
for them.

In the back yard was a fine poultry house and goat
house, and tanks of water in which ducks could enjoy
themselves. There were several coffee trees too of the
Liberian variety, loaded with berries of a bright red color,
looking for all the world like overgrown cranberries. After
breakfast they had coffee from these same trees, which they
found to be most excellent, far superior to what usually is
offered for sale in shops at home.

At breakfast Mr. Lyon proposed a row up to Creektown,
and at 2 p. m. they started in the gig with six stalwart Kru-
boys at the oars. The boat spun along at a good rate and
the ride was most enjoyable. The distance is six or eight
miles, and the time a little over an hour. The mangroves
continue all the way, but they are interspersed with palms,
bamboos, pandanus and other plants, thus relieving the
monotony. All these lowlands would make the best of rice
fields, and in the hands of some large company with capital
to build the needed embankments, would be exceedingly
profitable. These lands may now be had for almost nothing,
and the rice would find a ready sale on the spot to con-
sumers. Sugar-cane would also thrive with great luxuri-
ance. Creektown, notwithstanding its name, is upon the
mainland and is a town of several thousand people. There

i37



OLD CALABAR.

is here a branch of the Scotch Mission under Mr. Goldie,
that has done good work, having avoided the dissensions
noticed at Dnketown. A large church has been built
entirely by subscriptions from the natives and traders. Mr.
Goldie has lived at Creektown over thirty years.

After a short call at his house, and a stroll about the
town, our friends embarked and were home again before
sundown.

Captain Thompson and Mr. Gilles came up to dinner
and a very pleasant evening was spent together. The next
morning at early dawn the Kisanga hove anchor and
steamed rapidly down the river.




138



Chapter VII



KAMERUN. BATANGA, ELOBY.






UST as the Kisanga was about to leave Old Calabar
a native canoe came alongside with some Kola
nuts for sale. Our friends were already on deck
sipping their coffee, and the sight of the Kola nuts
led to a conversation respecting their merits. These nuts
— perhaps it would be more proper to call them beans —
are the product of a very large tree growing in the deep
forest. They are a little larger than a Brazil nut, of a deep
pink color, contain no oil, and are enclosed in a thick pod
four or five inches in length. They are moderately bitter,
and taste slightly like belladonna. Chewing them causes
the gums and tongue to assume a peculiar redness which is
disagreeable to see. These nuts have the power of pro-
ducing sleeplessness, and of preventing bodily fatigue.
Three or four of these nuts a day will enable a man to
endure severe exertion, without food, and without experi-
encing any evil after effects ; and this may be continued for
several days in succession. Two or three of these beans
eaten in the afternoon will enable the student to work all
night, and not feel any evil effect at the time, or afterward.
They do not stupify the senses like opium, nor do they
exhilerate like alcohol ; they produce no sensible effect of

139



KAMERUN, BATANGA, ELOBV.

which the eater is conscious ; all he knows is that he does
not get tired, but can keep right on at his work as if he
were freed from the limitations and necessities of this
earthly existence. These beans have been taken in limited
quantities to England and a kind of chocolate made from
them which is said to produce very much the same effect
that has just been described. A large English firm recently
sent circulars to all the coast ports offering to take at a good
price all the beans that might be shipped ; but a difficulty
was experienced in getting the beans to England in good
condition. The best plan would be to manufacture them
into chocolate, or any other desired form, upon the Coast,
and this manufacture might be carried on at several different
ports. There is no doubt that this might form a valuable
ingredient in medicine that would have a wide sale as soon
as its wonderful properties were known.

At 3 p. m. the Kisanga arrived at Victoria at the foot
of Mt. Albert of the Cameroons range. This mountain
rises from the sea to a height of 13,800 feet and its bold
form stands outlined against the sky. It is clothed with a
dense forest growth, and as the afternoon sun shines upon
it, it presents a striking and beautiful appearance. Sixteen
years ago a Mr. Thompson attempted to establish a sani-
tarium far up the side of this mountain, but his means were
not sufficient to enable him to carry the project to comple-
tion. No finer location for a sanitarium could be desired.
The Bay of Victoria is one of the finest harbors to be found
on the Coast, and the situation is about midway between
the north and the south, so as to be easily accessible from
either direction. A narrow gauge railway up the mountain
side would not be very expensive, and would give the
invalid or pleasure seeker an opporUmity to choose any
climate that suited him best. It would almost seem as if
this mountain had been placed here for this express purpose.



140



KAMERUN, BATANGA, ELOBY.

The Bay is full of beautiful islands which rise rather
abruptly from the water, and are covered with a solid mass
of vegetation of the most brilliant green, making them
appear like gigantic emeralds set upon the bosom of the
sea. Victoria is exceedingly rich in tropical vegetation.
The heavy forests on the mountain side will be the source
of large revenue, as all lumber will meet with a readv
market. If a railway were built upon the mountain side as
suggested, it would do a large business in bringing this
lumber down to the port of Victoria, and as the upper
slopes of the mountain would be well fitted for European
colonists, it would soon have all the traffic it could well
attend to. These upper slopes would be excellent for coffee,
tea, oranges, figs, and man}- other fruits, as well as vegetable
gardens and truck farms.

The Cameroons range extends in a northeasterlv
direction and forms the watershed which divides the streams
that flow into Lake Tchad from the tributaries of the
Congo. These mountains lie within the German territory
which extends from the Rio del Ray on the north, to the
Campo river on the south. This region, owing to its
dense forests, may not be developed so rapidly as the
Soudan, but it is rich and valuable, and the patient, indus-
trious Germans will yet make it a very garden of fertility
and beauty.

As Kamerun was not very far away, and the river must
be entered by daylight, Captain Thompson determined to
remain at anchor until midnight and with the change of
the watch steam " slow," which would bring him to the
river by dawn. This gave our friends a quiet evening in
one of the most beautiful harbors of the world ; an evening
they fully enjoyed. Sitting upon the deck in the very
shadow of the mountains, the conversation naturally turned
upon the attractions of Mt. Albert and the other peaks of
the Cameroons range.

141



KAMERUX, BATAXGA, ELOBY.

" I have been thinking," said Mr. Alexander, " of the
vast water-power afforded by the tropic rains falling upon
these mountains. Why there is power enough here to run
all the mills in Manchester and plenty to spare. The
amount of power that might be utilized from these streams
that come down from the heights to the sea, is something


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Online LibraryJoseph H. (Joseph Hankinson) ReadingA voyage along the western coast, or, Newest Africa : a description of newest Africa, or the Africa of to-day and the immediate future → online text (page 11 of 17)