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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rained heavily during the night, but with the rising of the sun
the clouds broke away, and the rich sunlight shone through
the clear air upon a glorious landscape of hill and dale,
refreshed by the recent rains. The river is from eight to
ten miles wide, and the channel between the banks is well
buoyed and carries a depth of from eight to ten fathoms.
The course at first lay to the south side of the river until
well within Sandy Point, when a course is laid directly to
the guardship, which is anchored in front of the public
buildings a mile from the northern shore.



Gaboon is thought by many to be the most attractive
port on the West African Coast, as it has unquestionably
the largest and most secure harbor, there being not less
than sixty square miles of anchorage ground. As the steamer
neared the northern shore the foreign settlement came more
distinctly in view ; to the right were the English and
German factories where Messrs. Sinclair and Schiff were to
spend the next three years, and just back from the river,
on the summit of a low hill, Mr. King's home could be
seen nestling cosily amid a wealth of greenery ; away to
the left were the extensive grounds of the French Catholic
Mission, the heavy stone buildings hidden by the rows of
cocoa palms, while just ahead were the French government
buildings and a number of shops and boarding houses.
Several vessels were at anchor in the harbor ; some receiv-
ing their cargo of bar wood, and one was unloading cattle
by lowering them into a lighter by means of a rope fastened
around their horns.

Our four friends were in a state of pleasurable excite-
ment, for this was the end of their voyage, and for three of
them it was " home," for they had come to look upon Africa
as their adopted country, the land that afforded them a living,
and where they had spent the best years of their lives ; so
they were making up their last bundles, taking leave of the
stewards, and every few moments scanning the shore with
that loving, interested gaze with which one looks into the
face of a long-absent friend.

The Kisanga was not detained at the guardship, and,
passing up the river, anchored in front of Messrs. Hatton
& Cookson's factory. While still coming up the river
boats were seen to leave the shore, and as soon as the
anchor was down they came alongside, and there were joyful
greetings, while the news was eagerly inquired for, and
when curiosity was in a measure satisfied all hands
adjourned to the saloon for breakfast. As the news from



shore was all favorable, the party that gathered around the
table were as merry and jolly as men know how to be. Mr.
Scruff was especially gay ; he sang songs, told his best
stories, and kept the company in a roar of laughter all the

After breakfast the luggage was all sent in a lighter,
and it was not long before the boats followed with all hands,
and they soon landed at the end of the pier that Messrs.
Hatton & Cookson have built out beyond the breakers to
deep water. The custom house regulations at Gaboon are
often annoying to strangers, but our friends were so well
known they had no trouble ; the inspection was soon over,
and strong-limbed Kru boys carried the packages away to
their various destinations, followed by the owners, and the
pleasant voyage was a thing of the past. Mr. King's little
carriage was in waiting for him, and he and Mr. Alexander
were soon rattling through the streets behind a team of
four strong Kru boys and up the hill to the cool and com-
fortable home beneath the breadfruit and mango trees.

Gaboon is a long, narrow town, extending for some
three miles along the river bank, and with an average
width of half a mile. The great mercantile establishments
are near the beach for convenience of handling cargo, while
back of them is the residence portion of the town, half
hidden by the broad plantain and banana leaves, as well as
mango and other fruit trees that have been planted for the
sake of the shade. The government buildings, cathedral
and public gardens occupy a prominent position on a bluff
thirty or forty feet high, back of them being the residence
of many of the officers as well as the barracks for the
troops. The streets are macadamized, and in the evening
when the people go abroad to get the air and hear the news,
they present quite a scene of gayety, especially upon moon-
light nights. An excellent band plays in the governor's

xiv 209


garden every Sunday afternoon and evening and upon all
gala occasions.

The land near the mouth of the Gaboon is rather
high and hilly, but a few miles up the river the hills recede
and leave a broad valley that is covered with a thick growth
of mangroves, bamboos, palms, pandanus and other water-
loving plants. This great swamp, or inland delta, continues
all the way up to the foot-hills of the Coast Range, some
seventy-five miles distant. The river is navigable to these
foot-hills for river steamers of the smaller size. The soil
is everywhere productive, and contrary to what might be
supposed, the low-lying river basin is not particularly
unhealthy. Gaboon formerly possessed an extensive trade
in ivory, but this has now drifted away to the Ogowe,
leaving the former little else than her magnificent harbor,
unless she builds a railway following the line of hills
toward the interior, and employs the native labor in work-
ing large estates of cane, coffee, rice and tobacco. Iron ore
of good quality is found in the hills, and the natives smelt
small quantities for manufacture into spears, knives, hoes
and other implements. This and other minerals might be
made a source of profit, but for the present the country
may be more satisfactorily developed from the Ogowe than
from the Gaboon.

The Gaboon markets are well supplied with the various
kinds of country produce, such as plantains, bananas, yams,
sweet potatoes, cassava, maize, beans, palm nuts, palm
cabbage, fresh fish and turtle, dried fish from Cape Lopez,
monkeys, deer, pigs and other game, and quite a variety of
forest nuts. The gardeners who have been instructed in
the Catholic Mission also sell all kinds of tropical fruits,
together with tomatoes, eggplants, okra, cabbage, lettuce,
radishes and many other home vegetables. The month of
November is early summer-time in this latitude, and so our
friends had arrived at the season of the greatest plenty


when the markets were fairly overstocked with good

On Saturday evening there was a large dinner party
at Mr. King's house to celebrate the safe arrival of the
Kisanga's passengers, when the gallant Captain was the
recipient of many thanks for all his kindness during the
voyage, and all the guests professed their determination to
travel only by the Kisanga so long as Captain Charles
Thompson was in command. On Sabbath morning the
five friends attended service in the Presbyterian church and
spent the remainder of the clay at Mr. Scruffs comfortable
home. Any one seeing Mr. Schiff among strangers would
scarcely suppose he was one of the best of housekeepers,
very few ladies being able to exceed him in this respect вАФ a
valuable accomplishment to those living bachelor lives
upon the Coast.

On Monday morning the four friends gathered upon
the Kisanga's deck to say " good bye " to Captain Thomp-
son and wish him a prosperous voyage to Merrie England
and return. Mr. Alexander was to remain over at Gaboon
for one trip, so the good Captain felt that he was quite
deserted. At eight o'clock the rattle of the anchor chain
warned our friends it was time to go, and with many a
hearty " bon voyage " they hastened down the ladder, and
by the time they had reached Mr. King's house the Kisanga
was in the offing and had turned her head to the northward.
As the four friends seated themselves upon the veranda,
with the wide and beautiful river before them, the tall cocoa
palms waving their graceful arms in the morning breeze,
and the rich sunlight bathing the landscape in a flood of
glory, they heartily agreed that nowhere on this broad earth
was there so goodly a land as Newest Africa !




Author " Newest Africa" and other works.

Royal Octavo. Sixty-five full-page Illustrations.

THE design of this book is to give a reliable picture
t of a voyage to Africa and life in that marvelous
jJMSaffl. land as it would appear to a traveler who might
make a voyage to-day. The incidents of my
second voyage to Africa with my wife and daughter in 1880
are here given, under the guise of the adventures of the
Ogowe Band, a party of young people who are supposed to
make the voyage under the guidance of the genial Judge
McGee, of Jersey City. I kept careful diaries of all my
journeys, and the description of places and events are as
accurate as it is possible to make them. The book was
written primarily for young people, but men and women of
mature years have found it intensely interesting, and I have
received testimonials from those high in the social, religious,

political and business worlds. My long residence in the
Equatorial regions enabled me to acquire an intimate
knowledge of the climate, seasons, productions, diseases and
resources of the country, as well as of the manners, customs
and superstitions of its tribes and peoples. The routine
and incidents of daily life in tropical countries is faithfully
given, for this book was not written by a traveler, but by
one who made Africa his home.

There are chapters on Madeira, Tropical Voyaging,
Baraka and Gaboon, Church Work at Gaboon, Nomba and
Ovendo Point, Benita, Bata, Evuni, Batanga, Picnic Excur-
sion to Sandy Point, and many other subjects of deep
interest. The whole book is a story of real events quite
outside the usual course of human experiences, and will be
found intensely interesting to both old and young. It is
absolutely pure and clean in text and illustration.

There are sixty-five full-page illustrations, all from
photographs, giving a faithful impression of the appearance
of that wonderful land. The book is a large one, weighing
nearly three pounds when ready for mailing. It is printed
from clear, new type, on fine calendered paper, in one
royal octavo volume, and will be sent, postpaid, to any
address in any country in the world for $1.50.

Nothing could be more appropriate or acceptable for
a Christmas or a birthday gift.

Joseph H. Reading,

No. 421 Chestnut Street,

Philadelphia, Pa.





3 1158 00394 8287




AA 000 950 266

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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 17 of 17)