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 12 of 17)
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" Yes," responded Mr. King, " the largest quartz mill
in the world is that of the Treadwell mine in Alaska. The
motive power is supplied by one seven-foot turbine wheel,
which runs two hundred and fifty stamps, ninety-six con-
csntrators, twelve ore crushers, etc., exerting a power equal
to five hundred horses. The wheel operates under a pressure
of four hundred feet, making two hundred and thirty-five
revolutions and using six hundred and thirty cubic feet of
water per minute. The nozzle is three and one third
inches in diameter. With a four-inch nozzle this wheel
will work up to seven hundred and thirty horse power.
Now think of what might be possible in such a range of
mountains with a frequent and heavy rainfall. In addition
to the factories Mr. Alexander has suggested, what is to
hinder some of these streams running heavy dynamos and
thus generating sufficient power to run the trains on the
railway ? For my part, I can see no good reason why this
should not be done."

" And not these mountains alone," added Mr. Sinclair,
" but think of what might be done in the Kong mountains
as well. Why our generation does not half realize what is
possible to it."

" I would not wonder," declared Captain Thompson,
" if in the next ten years saw-mills were established in
these forests, and who knows but we might get considerable
local freight to neighboring ports as we pass to and fro ? "

" It could scarcely be done without the railway,"
responded Mr. King, " and I think a company might now



be formed in London to build it, for it would be certain to
be a good investment."

" This mountain," said Mr. Alexander, " is a volcano,
and as grapes always do well in volcanic soil, I should not
be surprised if the vine would flourish on the upper slopes
of the mountain. If it would, the grapes could all be sold
fresh as table grapes, either to the fashionable hotels on the
mountain, or else at the various coast ports near by."

The conversation continued until a late hour, for the
presence of lofty mountains is inspiring, and the possibili-
ties of such mountains as those of the Cameroons rano-e,
with a tropic sun, rich soil, and copious rainfall, is indeed,
very great ; and when such mountains rise directlv from
the sea, with a slendid harbor at their base, it is a combina-
tion of fortunate circumstances over which any one might
well grow enthusiastic. The advantages offered by the
Cameroons range are far greater than those of Kandv, the
fashionable mountain resort of Ceylon.

At sunrise next morning the Kisanga entered the
Kamerun river, and at nine o'clock came to anchor near
the landing of the Basle Mission. The Kamerun river is
not a long one, but it is wide in the tide-water region.
Like the Niger it has a large delta and inside navigation
to the foot of Mt. Albert on the north, and almost to
Malemba on the south. This large delta, like that of ( )1<1
Calabar, will be extremly valuable in the near future for
rice and cane fields. The soil is inexhaustible, and as it
can be flooded at any time, new layers of fertility can be
added yearly, as is true of the lands bordering the Nile.

The Kamerun river drains the southern slope of the
Cameroons range, and is composed of five branches which
unite to form this important river ; each of these tribu-
taries is navigable for the canoes and flat-bottomed boats to
the very foot of the mountains ; thus the oil and kernels of



a considerable region are brought down to Kamerun, which
makes that town a valuable trade centre.

Kamerun is on the south side of the river, twenty
miles from the sea, on the first solid land above the man-
groves. It is separated from the mainland by a narrow
creek navigable for canoes. On the opposite side of the
river, as at Duketown, is a low island covered with man-
groves. The site of the town consists of a clay cliff rising
some thirty or forty feet from the water, and sloping very
gradually back to the creek that separates it from the main-
land, which is some three miles away. The government
buildings, mission and native town is built on this level
plateau, but the factories belonging to the traders are built
under the hill along the river's edge, for convenience in
receiving cargo and produce, for the river is the highway
of commerce and travel.

The appearance of the town and surrounding country
is pleasing, palms predominating except upon the low
island opposite the town. The oil palms are here finer
and more luxuriant than at any other town on the Coast,
although some settlements on the rivers in the interior are
equal to Kamerun in this respect. There are a number of
good buildings at Kamerun, and these have such a fine
setting in the midst of abundant tropical foliage, that the
effect is attractive and pleasing.

Kamerun is the seat of the German power in Western
Africa, and although it is but six years since they took
possession of it, yet they have exhibited so much energy
that an improvement has already taken place, not only in
Kamerun, but also throughout the colony. This territory
is destined to become a very valuable one to the mother
country. The magnificent mountain range which stretches
to the interior will furnish homes for several millions of
sturdy German peasants ; while the lowlands will make
valuable estates to be worked by native labor under German




superintendence. Experience at Kamerun has shown that
German families can live in the lowlands, but the best plan
will be for German colonists to settle first on the higher
mountain slopes where the climate is more like that of the
temperate zone, and then the children born in this tem-
perate African climate will be able to move farther down
in a warmer latitude, and their children in a generation or
two will be able to live in the lowlands quite as well as the
natives, who are a healthy people, as healthy as those
found in any country in the north of Europe.

It is a mistake to suppose that a negro can bear the
African climate better than an Anglo-Saxon or a German.
Such is not the case. Negroes who go to Africa from
America suffer as much, if not indeed more, than the white
American. The reason why the African negroes bear the
climate better than Europeans is simply because the
African is a native and has an African constitution. When
a Northerner goes in summer to the sea-coast region of
South Carolina, Georgia, or Louisiana, what is the result ?
He gets fever and probably dies ; and yet multitudes of his
own race live there and keep their health. This is just
what happens when a northern born negro goes to Africa.
The conclusion is obvious ; the white man can live in
Africa as well as the negro, when his constitution is an
African one. To obtain this African constitution, one of
the best plans is the one that has just been suggested, to
settle colonists upon the mountain slopes in a comparatively
cool climate and let them gradually move down into the
plains. To accomplish this in the Kamerun colon v a
railway from Victoria, running along the slopes of the
Cameroons range is necessary, and it would pay the Imperial
government to guarantee the bonds of such a railway if by
this means it might be built at once.

Among the traders who came off to the Kisanga to hear
the news was Mr. Kudeling, general agent for the firm of

X 145


Jantezen & Thormahlen, of Hamburg. He was well
acquainted with our friends and at once gave them a
pressing invitation to come ashore and spend the day with
him, which they were quite ready to do. His factory was
near the Kisanga's anchorage, and it was not long before
they were seated in Air. Kudeling's cool and comfortable
home. It was the Sabbath, so no business was going on,
and Mr. Kudeling was able to give all his time to his guests,
so they talked, and smoked, and enjoyed themselves until
3 p. m., when they walked up the hill to the church and
attended divine service. The building was large, built of
brick made by the members of the congregation, and there
were a little over three hundred persons present, as Mr.
Schiff found by counting them. The preacher was a native
man, and the services were in the Dualla, or native lan-
guage. All the older members of the congregation could
speak English quite well, but this language is now inter-
dicted, and the rising generation will learn the German
instead. The people are very attentive, and seemed earnest
in their worship, and there can be no doubt that the Gospel
religion has produced a great change in the Dualla people.
Our friends learned that the native Christians sustain this
service themselves, raising the salary for the native pastor
and also supporting eight teachers who have schools in
different villages where the children are taught to read and
also recite the catechism.

When the service was ended our friends called at the
mission which was close by, and were cordially received by
Rev. Messrs. Arntz and Bastin, who have lately come out
from Germany to take charge of this mission. The mission
house is a large one, built of brick, and the greater part of
it has two stories. The ground floor seemed somewhat
damp because of the great number of bananas and other
plants growing near the house, but the second story, being
above most of these, was delightful and afforded an exten-



sive view of the native town, the river and shipping, and
the lowlands opposite, as well as the mountains in the far
distance up river. This mission is in marked contrast to
the majority of those on the West African coast, being built
in the midst of the native town, and also as near the facto-
ries as it was possible to get ; the consequence is that the
grounds are not large, but the missionaries are near the
people, and the church is convenient of access. After
spending an hour very pleasantly with these good brethren,
our friends returned to Mr. Kudeling's factory for dinner,
where they found Captain Thompson awaiting them, having
just arrived in his gig.

After dinner, as they sat on the piazza by the riverside,
the conversation turned upon the railway from Victoria
along the slopes of the mountain range, and the benefits
that might reasonably be expected from it. Mr. King
thought it might either follow the Cameroons range toward
the northeast and then through the Egyptian Soudan to the
Nile ; or it might presently leave the mountains and con-
tinue in an easterly direction until it reached some navigable
affluent of the Congo. This latter plan would create a new
route to the Congo Free State, and to all the net-work of
rivers connected with the Congo System. Mr. King favored
the former route and Mr. Kudeling the latter.

Said Mr. Kudeling : " I think it would be much
better to open up the trade routes, and let colonization rest
for the present. We traders who are out here now want to
make some money. If colonists come out here it will turn
things up side down, and our trade will not be so profitable
as it now is. I am in favor of the railway, but let it run to
some river that empties into the Congo ; then we can put
steamers on the river, and go everywhere with our goods.
There is plenty of ivory, ebony and palm oil in the Congo
valley, and for my part I should like to buy it."



" I cannot but think," responded Mr. King, " that even
if the existing state of things be somewhat broken up, you
will still find your business, not only as profitable as it now
is, but even more so ; for with the influx of colonists there
will be a demand for a multitude of things, all of which
you could supply, and thus while trade went in somewhat
different channels, yet its volume would be at least as
much — perhaps more. For my own part, it seems to me
this colony has a great future before it. It is nearer the
centre of Africa than any other point on the Coast. It is
far nearer all the richer and more valuable portions of the
Congo Valley, than the mouth of the Congo itself. It has
a mountain range of easy ascent, which does not need to
be crossed, but may be followed at an}- height you may
choose to elect, and a river with fine tributaries that bring
you to the very foot of these mountains. The soil is every-
where rich, the climate pleasant, and the native population
friendly and easily managed. The government, too, is
likely to be successful ; it is strong, and yet gives ample
room for the devolopment of individual and corporate
effort without governing them to death ; and it affords full
security for both life and property. Now build a railway
along the lower slopes of this mountain range, bring out
peasant families and care for them until they are able to
care for themselves ; set these Duallas at work under
efficient corporate direction to cleaning up the country- and
planting rice, sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, and in a few
years you will have a country that will rival Java for
commercial and industrial prosperity.' '

The conversation was continued until a late hour, and
then Captain Thompson took his passengers on board the
Kisanga, and they were soon in dreamland.

On Monday morning, October the 6th, Mr. Aitken, a
Scotch trader, came on board the Kisanga and invited our
friends to pa}' a visit to the governor, Baron Von Soden,




and spend the day with him ; an invitation they gladly
accepted. At the government landing is a short pier, and
concrete steps lead to the top of the bluff where the Baron's
residence stands on level ground with shady walks winding
through the lawn — a quiet and attractive spot. The
governor is a pleasant and agreeable gentleman, a great
worker, thinking nothing of throwing off his coat and
lending a hand to help if something heavy is to be lifted,
and often taking a hoe or spade to show a laborer how a
particular piece of work is to be done. He is a great
favorite with every one in the colony except evil doers.
Under his wise and energetic administration the resources
of the country are likely to be developed rapidly. He
received our friends courteously, and after twenty minutes
conversation about the development of the country, bade
them adieu and wished them " bon voyage " and a long and
useful life in Africa. The governor is heartily in favor of
a railway to the northeast, and thinks it must soon become
an accomplished fact.

From the governor's house the little part}- took a stroll
through the native town, which is over a mile wide and
three miles long, extending all the way to the creek that
separates the island from the mainland. Throughout the
length of the town an excellent road has been made by the
governor, with ditches on each side to carry off the water.
The town is not regularly laid out as a whole, but consists
of small aggregations of houses, each forming a little com-
munity, presided over by an aged patriarch who called it
" his town." Those of one name dwell together, and the
patriarch is simply the oldest male member of the family.
Every available foot of space between the houses was
planted with sweet potatoes, bananas, plantains and the
arum esculatuin, which is a favorite here, as it is in the
South Sea Islands. A number of cacao trees were growing
in or near each little village, this being a new industry.



Bushels of the seeds were lying on mats in the sun to dry,
and Mr. Aitken told his companions the factories paid a
sixpence a pound for them. This bean grows well, and
might be produced in almost any quantity if a little effort
were made. As the trees are low and bushy, they would
be well adapted for planting between larger trees, such as
cocoanut, breadfruit, oil palms and mango. They come
into bearing in three years, which would make them
valuable to grow in connection with oranges, which do not
yield largely in less than ten years.

Mr. Alexander was filled with admiration for the oil
palms, which were larger and more luxuriant than any he
had yet seen. There is no more beautiful tree in the world
than the oil palm when it grows on suitable ground.
Quite a number of brick houses were scattered here and
there, and they found a brick church in course of construc-
tion by the Duallas. The art of brick-making had been
taught the people years ago by Mr. Baker, a Baptist
missionary, and now the people prefer brick above all other
building material. The men of Kamerun, like those of
Duketown, are largely engaged in the oil trade, loading
canoes and going up the rivers and through the back creeks
collecting the oil and kernels from the villages and bring-
ing them to the white traders at the factories. Valuable as
this oil trade now is, it is but a trifle compared to what the
country may produce when a railway is built and large
industrial companies cultivate the soil and develop the
resources of this wonderful land.

Our friends returned to Mr. Aitken's for breakfast, and
then went on board the Kisanga, as Captain Thompson had
sent a note ashore saying he would sail at three o'clock.
Our friends left Kamerun with real regret, and the}- watched
the long line of the foreign settlement until it was lost in
the distance.



Captain Thompson kept his ship at full speed until she
was entirely clear of the mud-banks at the river's mouth,
and then turned southward down the coast, and slowed
down the engines, as the distance to Batanga, his next port
of call, was not great.

In the evening the conversation turned upon cacao
culture, and the unanimous opinion of the party, was that
it might easily become a more important industry than the
palm kernel trade, for whereas palm kernels bring twelve
pounds a ton, the cacao beans would sell for sixty pounds a
ton, and it is almost as easy to raise and dry a ton of cacao
as to crack a ton of palm kernels. The cacao does not
ripen all its pods at once, but they come to maturity
throughout a long season, thus equalizing the labor and
bringing in an income throughout most of the year. All
kinds of spices, too, nourish everywhere throughout the
German territory, and if systematically cultivated, would
find a ready market in Europe and bring a large revenue to
the colony.

At sunrise on Tuesday morning the Kisanga anchored
off the factorv of Messrs. Hatton & Cookson at Batano-a.
A small river empties here into the sea, and only a few
hundred yards back from the beach it falls over the rocks
from a height of forty feet. The cascade is a very beautiful
one, and is one of the few in the world that can be seen
from the deck of an ocean steamer. The Captain took his
friends ashore to call upon Mr. Hervey, who was in charge
of the factory ; he also left word for his surf boats to be
launched and bring off some casks of fresh water from the
river at the foot of the falls.

After a short talk with Mr. Hervey the parts' walked
out to have a look at the cascade. They found the river
water to be several degrees colder than the sea ; as the
morning sun shone upon the mist that ascended from the
falling water, it formed rainbows that were extremely



beautiful. Crawfish are found among the rocks by the
native women, and the factory is kept well supplied with
this delicacy. Our friends wished to walk up to the beach
a few miles to see the tobacco farm already mentioned, but
the captain informed them he would leave by noon, and
that there was not time to go there and back again,
especially as it would be high tide in the meantime, and
then they could not walk along the beach.

While they were at breakfast in the factory, Rev. Mr.
Brier, from the American Mission, three miles below, came
in and was invited to take a seat at the table. He was a
young man, and this was his first time out, but he had
already obtained the goodwill of the native people, and had
an average attendance upon his services of three hundred
persons. When breakfast was over he invited the travelers
to visit the mission, and they were soon in his boat gliding
over the smooth sea, except Captain Thompson, who
remained to transact some business with Mr. Hervey.

At noon the captain steamed down opposite to the
mission to pick up the passengers and also to land a few
boat loads of goods for Mr. Brier. This was accomplished
by 3 p. m., and then the Kisanga steamed away to the

Our friends found the mission to be a much smaller one
than the Basle Mission at Kamerun, but it had gained the
goodwill of the people, and had already greatly changed
their character. A number of out-stations were kept up
where there were schools and the Gospel was regularly
preached. Mr. Brier's house was a new one, and while it
was small, it was comfortable. It was built of planks, on
brick piers four feet above the ground, with galvanized iron
roof, and had a veranda all around it. There was cistern
at one corner of the house, for holding rain-water ; a good
idea ; for the water from surface springs is not always of
the best. The interior of the house had been tastefully



arranged by Airs. Brier, and afforded a good example of an
African home. The house is near the landing, and from
the front piazza there is a fine view of the sea ; and when
the air is clear, of the peak of Fernando Po to the north-
west. A large tract of land has been purchased for a new
central station, half way between the present mission and
the water-fall, and there on a fine bluff it is proposed to
build a permanent station, when the present one will be
occupied by a native brother.

The Batanga men use a canoe of peculiar construction,
different from any to be found on the coast. They are
small and light, weighing but a few pounds each, and can
carry but one person. With these small canoes a Batanga
fisherman does not fear to go three or four miles to sea in
search of his finny prey, although the fish are usually
found quite near to land. All the fish are caught with
hook and line, and when engaged in fishing the canoeist
dangles both feet in the water to keep his crazy little craft
steady, a proceeding sometimes taken advantage of by
sharks to pull the fisherman overboard and so get a

Mr. Brier informed our friends that there were regular
paths to the interior used by the people for bringing down
ivory, which is the staple of trade here. For the first
thirty miles from the coast there is a considerable popula-
tion scattered through the forest in villages of from two
hundred to five hundred persons. Beyond this is a strip of
dark, heavy forest, seventy miles wide, totally uninhabited ;
beyond this forest, especially in a northeasterly direction,
is an open country of hill and dale, well cultivated, and
containing a large and thriving population. A railway no
more than one hundred miles in length could reach to this
country, which it is believed by some, will prove to be well
adapted to European constitutions. Mr. Brier greatly
desired to locate in this fine country, but the lack of proper



means of communication had thus far prevented him. If
but a small portion of the money annually expended upon
the military establishment of Germany were spent on this
fair colon}-, by another century it would equal in value and
importance the mother country itself.

A few miles southeast of Batanga is Elephant Moun-
tain, a tall hill sixteen hundred feet high and densely
wooded to the summit. It would make a magnificent
coffee estate, and some day will become the home of a
wealthy family. The small river they had seen in the
morning Mr. Brier told them was navigable for canoes for
two days' journey in the interior.

As the Kisanga steamed along the coast that bright
afternoon, the shore line presented many scenes of beauty
and tropical loveliness. The Sierra del Crystal mountains
were in plain view, giving the distant background every
variety of shape and form, and sometimes the foothills came
down almost to the sea, everywhere clothed with a luxuriant
forest, whose deep green was turned to almost a golden hue
by the rich sunlight.

At sunrise on Wednesday morning the Kisanga was off
the Benita river, but too far off shore to see objects with any
distinctness. The entire country was covered with forest,
and the Sierra del Crystal range was still in plain sight,
suggesting no end of coffee estates, and happy, prosperous

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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 12 of 17)