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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The greater portion of this country is covered with thick
forest, palms, bamboos, and other water-loving plants in the
hollows, and hard-wood trees on the higher ground. Many
valuable woods, such as ebony, mahogany and teak, abound,
and all of this heavy growth can be made useful in one way
or another. Much of this timber can be floated down to
the sea, the heavier wood buoyed up by such light wood as
bamboo and cotton-wood ; or very light-draft, stern-wheeled
steamers might bring it down. At some central points it
may be well to establish saw-mills, and the portable kind
might be used everywhere. Some of these trees bear valu-
able nuts and fruits, and these might be left to beautify the
landscape and bring in an annual income to the owner.
There are many kinds of edible nuts that would bring good

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GOLD COAST.

prices in European markets as soon as they were once fairly
introduced. This valuable timber supply, so near to home
markets, should not be longer left untapped.

The soil near the sea-coast is mostly sand, with a few
inches only of leaf-mold, and in some localities almost none
at all ; but in the forest region the deep rich humus will
furnish food for valuable crops for generations. This heavy
soil is capable of producing in abundance every product of
the tropics ; it has been lying untilled since the world
began, every year adding to its fertility by leaf-mold and
decaying tree-trunks, waiting until it should be needed to
furnish food for man ; the time has come when the accumu-
lated riches should be used for the benefit of mankind.
The world is rapidly increasing in population, and from
many lands there goes forth yearly a constantly increasing
stream of emigrants seeking homes and sustenance in lands
beyond the sea ; let them come to the Gold Coast and
beneath their own orange and cocoanut trees enjoy the
products of this fruitful soil. Sugar-cane, plantains and
oil-palms will be especially adapted to the valleys ; cotton,
tobacco, coffee, bananas and all kinds of fruit, to the higher
ridges. Some of the vegetables known in Europe will grow
well here ; these are tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucum-
bers, squashes, melons, onions, sweet corn, lima beans, sweet
potatoes, mustard and several kinds of spinach ; while in
the cool season, with the aid of irrigation, dwarf beans,
beets, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peas and radishes can be
grown in fair quantities at no greater cost than at home.
It is not needful to go over the long list of fruits that are
especially adapted to this climate, one, only, need be men-
tioned ; the granadilla. This superb fruit belongs to the
same variety of plants as the passion flower. The vine is
ornamental, and the blossom a handsome flower six inches
in diameter, with a delicate fragrance. The fruit is oblong,
eighteen inches in length by eight in diameter, and with a

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GOLD COAST.

smooth skin of a rich old gold color ; the flesh is an inch
and a half thick and the cavity of the fruit contains from a
pint to a quart of soft, pulpy seeds and juice, of the most
delightful fragrance, and delicious taste. The old Scotch-
man who is credited with saying that " doubtless God could
have made a better berry than the strawberry, but doubtless
God never did," simply exposed his ignorance, for had he
come to Africa he would have tasted a fruit with more " bou-
quet " than a strawberry. If this delicious fruit could in
some way be preserved, vast quantities of it could be sold
in the markets of the North. These vines grow rapidly
from slips, and continue in bearing for two or three years.

The sands in the river-beds throughout the hill region
abound in gold, mostly in the form of small flakes and
grains ; these sands are washed to a trifling extent by the
native tribes, who in this way obtain enough "dust" to
purchase whatever they need. There are mines where
large nuggets are obtained, and there is little doubt that in
the mountains there are valuable deposits. The mines now
known to the natives are only scratched on the surface ; if
they were properly tunneled and the veins carefully fol-
lowed, the profit of working them would be enormous.
Besides gold, iron is known to abound, and as iron and coal
usually are found near together ; so it is confidently believed
that coal will yet be discovered.

The value of this mountain region as a place of resi-
dence for a large European population, can scarcely be
over-estimated. Contrary to experience in northern coun-
tries, these mountains are covered with fertile soil, and as
perpetual spring and summer reign, this soil can always be
productive, and so the mountain region may support a large
population. The negroes prefer the warmer plains ; these
lowlands then might be divided into large estates, worked
by black labor ; while the highlands and mountain districts
would be specially adapted to a white peasant population.

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GOLD COAST.

With the white race holding the sea-coast and the foreign
trade, all the lines of interior communication, and a large
population in the mountain districts, they would be com-
plete masters of the country, and need fear no uprising of
the blacks ; indeed, this is not likely ever to take place, cer-
tainly not, if they are ruled with firmness and justice.
The necessity of forbidding the importation and sale to the
natives of guns, powder, and intoxicants, cannot be too
strongly insisted upon. These are all destructive in their
tendency, and opposed to the true interests and develop-
ment of the country, which is wholly a constructive pro-
cess. These forces belong to a barbaric age, and can have
no place in that era of progress upon which the world has
now entered.

The construction of a railway from Cape Coast to
Coomasie would not be a very serious undertaking, and
would be a great advantage to the country, although, to
reap the full benefits of such an enterprise, it should extend
to the mountains where the foreign population would
naturally want to settle first. During the Ashanti war a
road fifteen feet wide, raised in the middle and with a ditch
on either side to carrry off the water, was made from Cape
Coast to Coomasie in three months. This road was con-
structed by black labor under the direction of white army
officers, and the difficulties encountered were no greater
than are to be found in any tropic country. If such a road
could be cut through the forest in three months, what is
to hinder a narrow-guage railway being constructed over
the same line in one year ? There is absolutely no physi-
cal reason whatever ; all it needs is the energy and deter-
mination that Sir Garnet Wolseley put into his military
campaign. Why should not the English government de-
termine at once to build a railway from Cape Coast to the
Kong mountains, with a north and south branch from
Coomasie through the hill country ? In three years the

80



GOLD COAST.

entire work could be finished. Long before this time had
expired, the English people seeing the determination of the
government to open up the country, would form large com-
mercial companies to operate sugar, cotton, tobacco and
coffee estates, and to open gold and coal mines, and before
five years had passed there would be such a scramble for
land, and business opportunities, that the whole country
would be completely changed. Every element of success
is there ; rich soil, abundant heat and moisture, and near-
ness to all the great markets of the world. Open up this
land by constructing a system of railways (and four hun-
dred and fifty miles of track are sufficient), maintain a wise
and liberal, but strong government, and a tide of immigra-
tion will at once set in that will convert the land into a
garden. " But to open up a new country like this will
cost some precious lives." Certainly it will, and so does
every great enterprise. It cost many precious lives to settle
America ; but the result was worth the cost. It costs
thousands of lives every year to navigate the ocean ; but
that does not hinder ships from sailing. It costs lives to
dig our canals ; to run our railways ; to mine our coal —
but these works must be carried on ; and so Africa must be
developed, civilized, Christianized, and made to do her
share in supporting and ministering to the wants of the
human race, even if some drop by the way. This great
continent has been given to us to conquer ; we must go up
and subdue it ; let us go up with energy and determination,
and the task will not be so great as we anticipate. The
conquest of Africa may be made far easier than that of
North America, for the world is immensely richer than it was
four hundred years ago, and possesses vast agencies and
powers that were then unknown. The knowledge and ex-
perience gained during the settlement of the two Americas,
India, Australia, New Zealand and other countries, is



81



GOLD COAST.

available in the development of Africa, and the mistakes
formerly made can all be avoided.

The important fact should not be over-looked that this
is the last continent to conquer. All the rest of the world
is now under control of some powerful government ; only
Africa remains to be appropriated, and the work of divid-
ing her among the nations is nearly completed. Excepting
the plains of Central Asia most of the valuable land is
private property, and can only be had by purchase ; but the
broad, rich acres of Africa yet remain open to all who will
accept them. How long will this be ? How long before a
farm in Africa will cost as much as one in America or
India ? This wonderful West Coast is nearer to the great
European centres of population than California or Oregon,
and her broad acres intrinsically worth more money — it
will not be many years before they will actually be. Who
will be enriched by this enormous rise in value, from vir-
tually nothing, to fifty and a hundred dollars an acre ? It
will be those who at once take possession of the prize.
Ten years ago in some of our Western States men took up
wild land from the government ; to-day these are valuable
farms. So it will be in Africa, and that too, sooner than
many suspect. The best investment for capital to-day is on
the West Coast of Africa. Great aggregations of capital
are now being formed to control the industries of the world.
What can those do who are outside the great " trusts," or
" combinations ? " In what great enterprise can the rapidly
accumulating wealth of the world be safely invested and
yet bring in a fair return of profit ? In the rich acres of
Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Gold Coast ; in railways, and
mining operations. Such companies can make greater
gains in Africa than in capitalizing the various industries
of the United States. The profits of those companies that
are first in the field will be enormous, for it will not be dif-
ficult for" them to obtain liberal charters ; and large sub-

S2






GOLD COAST.

sidies in the shape of lands and exclusive privileges will be
more easily granted now when their value is not so
apparent.

The value of great companies to begin the develop-
ment of the resources of new countries has already been
recognized by some of the powers. At a recent sitting of
the Superior Council of the Colonies in Paris M. Etienne
" advocated the granting of charters to powerful commer-
cial companies on the condition that these chartered com-
panies to enter into an undertaking to establish planta-
tions, cultivate the soil, construct roads and establish towns."
These remarks were received with much applause. These
great companies, employing largely native labor, will pre-
pare the way for a large immigration of white settlers.
How much suffering might have been spared the early set-
tlers of our own great Republic, if the way had been
prepared for them by large commercial industrial com-
panies, such as are possible in these days ? Let these
open up the land, and make their profits ; there will yet be
abundant room for millions of Europe's surplus population.
To show how wide an extent of territory there is to occupy ;
suppose a company was granted a strip of land one mile
wide, extending from Cape Coast to Coomasie, a direct dis-
tance of one hundred and twenty-five miles ; there could
be two hundred such companies ranged side by side along
the Gold Coast, and yet there would remain beyond them
a territory equal in extent, before the Kong mountains
were reached. These great companies, employing the
native labor, could cut the forests and clear the land, and
sell it to the immigrant all ready to work ; thus saving the
new-comer a great amount of hard labor, while the com-
pany would make a profit both on timber and on the land.
Two fifty million dollar companies, if managed by Ameri-
can pluck and energy ; one to build the railways, and one
to clear the land, form coffee and sugar estates, and build

S3



GOLD COAST.

mills and factories — could transform the Gold Coast in a
few years into a civilized and fruitful land.

Two or three such companies have already been formed
and are operating in different parts of Africa, although there
are none on the Gold Coast ; but the present companies
confine their efforts entirely to commercial operations.
This is quite necessary and right, but it is only a small
portion of the work to be done ; goods must be made before
they can be sold ; produce must be raised before it can be
purchased ; commerce must come last ; production first.
The first and most important matter is to open up the
country, establish a stable and strong government, employ
the idle labor, and after this will come commerce, manu-
factures, and the arts ; let us not begin at the wrong end.

Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the neces-
sity for a strong, as well as a stable government. The
Germans have succeeded here better than any other nation.
The Africans are savages, and will respect and obey only
the strong arm ; sternness governed by unflinching justice,
is what is needed. Any government that treats these
people as intelligent men and women, will be a failure.
The only ethics that can be comprehended is " This do and
thou shalt live " ; " the soul that sinneth it shall die." To
be more lenient with them than this is to blunder. But a
strong government does not mean one that builds one or
two fortresses, and establishes as many more military posts
at strategic points, and then leaves all the country between
to take care of itself ; this is the defect of the French
Colonial policy. A strong government is one that GOVERNS.
To do this a thorough police patrol is necessary ; a patrol
not alone of a few isolated settlements, but of the entire
country. This however is only possible when lines of
communication are opened, and so it is necessary to build
these roads in advance of the settlement of the country by
immigrants. The old-fashioned way of colonizing was for

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GOLD COAST.

single families to brave the dangers and hardships of the
wilderness, and thus slowly and painfull}' overcome the
almost insuperable difficulties of their lot ; the new fashion
is for governments or powerful companies to prepare the
way, and when all is ready, to invite settlers to come to the
feast. This is not only the sensible way, but it is in
accordance with the spirit of the times.

To be sure these great companies expect to make
money ; and why not ? Are they not entitled to pay for
their services ? Is it not better to pay fifty dollars an acre
for land near a line of railway, in a well governed country ;
than five dollars an acre in a wilderness filled with savages ?
And then too, the stock of such companies can be held by
multitudes who cannot themselves go to these new coun-
tries, and yet who would like to take some part in the
industrial development of this grand continent. Let the
industrial conquest of the country be planned with the
same care and ample preparation that characterized the
expedition of Sir Garnet Wolseley, and the results will
astonish the world. Two new Indias ; one north of the
Gulf of Guinea, and the other south of it ; may soon be
formed, and both of them richer than the India of Asia.
The civilized mind is as yet blind to the riches of this
land. Accustomed for ages to look upon West Africa as a
hunting ground for slaves, they have come in these days to
think it is a Great Unknown Land for expeditions to travel
through and come home and write books about it. The
truth is it is the richest land under the sun, and will soon be
the greatest place in the world to make money. Africa pos-
sesses a vast labor supply which at present is running
almost entirely to waste ; this should be gathered up and
carefully set to work, not only for its own good, but for the
welfare of other lands and nations. The whole world is
fast becoming one great family in which all the members
must do their part for the good of the rest. The black

85



GOLD COAST.

brother of this family has run wild long enough ; he should
now be set to work, educated, Christianized, and taught to
do his part in ministering to the comfort and happiness of
the race. An effort was once made to make him useful, by
capturing him and bringing him to the white man's land ;
this was wholly wrong, and the result pernicious. The
true way is for the white man to go to his land, and there
set him to work in a way that will be for the good of both.
To do this, strong common sense is necessary, all senti-
mentalism should be set aside, and the errors of the past
avoided.

In the English occupation of America, the Indian was
treated as a white man and a brother — a consideration a
savage cannot understand — and from that day to this he
has murdered the whites whenever he could get a chance,
and between whiles the government supports him — a spec-
tacle to the imbecility of sentimentalism. On the other
hand, the cruelties practiced upon the native population by
the Spanish conquerors are equally to be avoided. The
island of Java, perhaps, offers the best example of what on
a larger scale might be done, not only on the Gold Coast,
but everywhere in West Africa.

When General Van den Bosch was made governor of
Java in 1830, he found the Island was a heavy drain on
the home treasury, and he at once set to work to see if he
could not make it pay expenses. He found through the
country districts a patriarchal form of government, and this
he strengthened, making the headmen responsible to him
and giving them power to enforce his commands upon their
people ; thus it was to their interests to remain on friendly
terms with him. All the people were set to work to raising
such crops as were marketable in Europe, and the Dutch
government bought it all at a fair price. The work to be
done was apportioned to each village according to the
population, and if, after allowing for bad seasons and other

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GOLD COAST.

unavoidable accidents, a village failed to do what was
assigned to it, the headman was punished. In this way
the people were kept busy and at the same time were well
paid for their labors ; the native rulers were kept loyal to
the central government, and the Colony made a fair profit
on the ever increasing shipment of produce.

A very efficient police system was maintained through-
out the Island ; by this, and by keeping people busy with
honest industry, crime was greatly diminished. Every
man, woman and child was registered, and each village
chief made responsible for the conduct of his subjects.
Thus an offence could be readily traced, and the chief, and
if necessary the village, punished. This plan will just fit
into the African mind, for all responsibility follows in the
line of family and village, and not upon individuality as
with us.

The success of this plan was so great that from being
an expense to Holland, the Island now yields a net annual
revenue of five millions of dollars. Crime has been so
reduced that the sittings of the local courts do not average
thirty days in a year. Formerly there was much poverty
and suffering ; now nearly every man, woman and child is
well fed and clothed, and a beggar is a rare sight. The
population has more than .trebled, and promises the same
rate of increase unless interrupted by some great calamity.
Such is the result in a colony governed by good common
sense — what a contrast to our own experience with a native
population !

What has been done in Java, not only can, but ought
to be done on the Gold Coast. The Anglo-Saxon has
trifled long enough with the sentimental notion that a black
savage should be allowed to do as he pleases. He should
be set to work, and kept at it. Work was ordained of God
to be the normal condition of man, and there is no good
reason why the negro should not be subject to this law, and

87



GOLD COAST.

indeed to all the laws of God. Is he any better than the
millions of the white race who toil for a living? Has his
idling around in the forest done him, or the world, any
good ? This world is ordained of God to be possessed by
the workers, and the negro's preservation as a race depends
upon his being set to work. The Redman of our country-
is doomed, because he will not work. The exception
proves the rule, for the few who have been Christianized
and have settled down to a life of honest labor, will survive ;
at least for a while. The black race is too valuable a one
to be lost, and the time has now come when it must be set
to work as the Javanese were.

This does not mean slavery, but it does mean compul-
sion ; no one need suppose a wild savage, or a tame one
either, is going to work steadily even- day unless he has to
— but neither will men refrain from crime unless they feel
they must. The plan of the Dutch Governor may be the
best that can be devised ; certainly it produced most desir-
able results in Java ; or it may be somewhat modified to
adapt it to varying conditions. If a large section of the
country is taken up by a private company, the resident
population might be placed under its control, subject to
the oversight of the central government. If it were desir-
able to cultivate the country in large estates, the negroes
might be gathered in one large, extended village near the
central buildings, and work in the mill, or in the fields, as
they might be directed, thus bringing them close to their
work and making oversight an easier matter. Eight hours'
work a day for their employers would leave time enough
for themselves, and there would be nothing to prevent their
having as happy and comfortable homes as an)- laboring
people ; — far better indeed than multitudes of toilers in our
own home lands. This labor should be paid for in cash at
a fair rate, the only compulsion being that labor should be
performed. Only men should be compelled to work, al-

88



GOLD COAST.

though women should be encouraged to do so too, if they
will, by the offer of as good wages as are given to men, and
the lighter tasks should be reserved for them.

The lot of a people under these conditions would be
far superior to what it is now among the wild tribes, or
even what it is among our own Indians after centuries of
an opposite course of treatment. Even in India, which in
the main is well governed, the omission to compel men to
work instead of idling away a good share of their time, has
produced very unhappy results. Those who have traveled
both in India and Java have seen that the contrast in the
condition of the two countries is something enormous. In
Java there is hardly an indication of poverty, and the public
works are in excellent shape ; while in India the reverse is
the case. Want and degradation are visible everywhere,
and the traveler has daily and hourly appeals for charity.
By the plan we propose there need not be a pauper in the
land ; and there would not be. Idleness is a crime and
should be treated as such ; and no good government will
allow crime to go unpunished. Not only the law of God,
but the advancing civilization of the age, requires man to
work. Hitherto the wild negro has roamed through the
forest, or idled the golden hours away under the leafy shade,
in open violation of this requirement ; in the meanwhile the
workers have appropriated one country after another, driv-
ing the native inhabitants to the wall unless they also
become workers ; and now Africa's time has come.

The worker must win. It is so in our own land ; the
idle and the inefficient, even when possessed of money, are-
soon left out of sight ; it is the worker who gains the prize,
and only the worker can hold it even when once obtained.
Some propose Christianity, and would have us suppose it


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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 7 of 17)