« VorigeDoorgaan »
encroaching natives, as well as rent from the white grantee-a double rent, in fact. The white grantee declares himself quite ready to fulfil occupying conditions provided he is given peaceful and undisturbed possession. To the impartial observer the defence set up appears to be good. I quote it as an illustration of some of the difficulties of the position.
The second event is the rapid increase of Masai stock, partly owing to the fact that they never sell a cow, partly to the fact that outbreaks of disease have been controlled by the quarantine regulations of a parental white administration. In 1906 a certain section of the Masai owned 5000 cattle and 20,000 sheep. To-day these same Masai own 20,000 cattle and 50,000 sheep.
It soon became obvious that the northern Masai reserve was inadequate for their increased requirements. Encroachment on the land surrounding it on all sides was becoming common. His Excellency the Governor therefore called a meeting of the headmen of the tribe and explained the situation. A removal was suggested from the northern reserve to an extended new reserve in the 2,000,000 acres adjoining the southern reserve already mentioned. This would achieve two important objects. First, it would bring the Masai tribes all together as formerly. Secondly, it would provide them with an extended reserve sufficient for their enlarged requirements. I am credibly informed that the new proposed reserve had been examined by experts and favourably reported on before the meeting was called and the move suggested. Doubts have since been thrown upon its grazing capabilities, and a second expert examination is now going on.
Now mark the course of subsequent events. The old Masai chief, Lenana, strongly supported the proposed move. All the Masai headmen concurred; all who live in the district, including the missionaries, approved. Every arrangement was accordingly made, and the Masai had actually started, when the Home Government took the responsibility of cabling to stop the move on the grounds that it was not clear that the Masai had willingly consented, and that they were not sure the proposed move was in the best interests of the native. All this happened more than a year ago. Eventually the Home Government were satisfied that the move was in the best interests of the native, and it was sanctioned. It may be remarked here that the consent of the Masai through their chief and headmen, finally accepted as a bona fide consent by Downing Street, entirely disposes of any charge of bad faith against us, the white men, in respect to the original promise by Sir Donald Stewart to the Masai that they should hold the Laikipea reserve in perpetuity. As a matter of fact there is, I am told, some conflict of evidence as to the terms and circumstances of this
promise. But this question does not now appear to arise. Another fair criticism is that the Home Government undertook a grave responsibility in cabling to stop a move apparently unanimously sanctioned by local opinion and authority-a responsibility which is not lessened by the fact that they afterwards consented to and endorsed the move. The delay naturally unsettled the native mind, and made the postponed move more difficult.
In May 1911, accordingly, the move began. Unfortunately it has been a failure. The Masai and their vast herds were. moved too quickly, and too close together. Feed naturally failed, both for natives and stock. Some deaths occurred. Some of the Masai reached the new reserve. The bulk had to return.
Nothing, however, has happened to invalidate the reasons which dictated the move. The failure has occurred in the process of carrying it out. Probably the numbers of the Masai cattle were underestimated. It may be even permitted to remark that possibly the subordinate official mind, not being practically versed in the moving and handling of stock, had failed to anticipate and provide against the difficulties of the task.
Meantime the reasons for the move remain in full force, and are urgent as ever. Also it is probable that its difficulties have not been lessened by the original failure, coupled with the unfortunate effects on the native mind that such a failure must inevitably cause. There is reason to believe, also, that the Masai themselves contributed to the failure, by taking advantage of any excuse to stop in their old grazing-ground in the Rift Valley when once they found themselves there. The Rift Valley is in the direct route of the move.
The mutual advantages of the move may briefly be summarised thus: first, for the Masai, it brings the whole tribe in touch with one another, and places them under the direct guidance and control of their own paramount chief. It will give them a much larger area of suitable land for their requirements. Their boundaries in the new reserve will preclude all possibility of interference or limitation through neighbouring white settlement, having the German boundary on the south and the strong natural boundary of the Mau Range on the north.
For the white man and the Colony the move means the opening up of Laikipea and the country to the north for white settlement. It means doing away with all causes of friction between Masai and white settlers, and keeping faith with the white settlers who have already been granted land on the borders of the Laikipea district. As a minor practical advantage, one conterminous Masai reserve will considerably lessen the cost of administration, and make it easier to control the movements and possible depredations of the Masai tribes, as they necessarily require to be controlled. Finally,
the move will make the building of a railway through the Laikipea district (already, I hear, projected) both possible and advantageous.
What is written above indicates some, at all events, of the difficulties inherent in the British East African native problem. As time goes on we may hope to see these difficulties materially lessened or altogether solved. But in my view, the less interference there is from the Home Government, and the more freedom is given to the local administration to work out, as it sees fit and should best know how, its own salvation, the better for all concerned. I think I have said this before; but I repeat it, for it is a principle that underlies all successful colonial administration, if we are to be guided at all by the lessons of history.
On glancing over what I have written, it may seem that I have perhaps unduly depreciated the British East African native. Nothing is further from my wish than to paint the black children of Ham any darker than they really are. For some months now, off and on, I have hunted and travelled with a varied assortment of them and been served by them. Better personal servants I have never had. Many of them are excellent and keen sportsmen. Some of their attributes are admirable. But every now and then one is up against some little trait or manifestation that proves, perhaps in a startling manner, that their ways are not our ways, their thoughts not our thoughts; that there are dark recesses in their minds we have not fathomed; that they are, in fact, a race separate and apart from us; a race to be ruled, firmly and justly.
In British East Africa the Kikuyu are more useful and a better asset than the Masai. The former till the soil, do manual labour and personal service, and occupy less area of land to greater advantage than the latter. The Masai do no manual labour or personal service. They require far more land per capita than the so-called inferior tribes, and pay less taxation. Let our good folks at home trust their own flesh and blood in British East Africa to treat the natives fairly and according to their just deserts, and I for one am confident that they will not be disappointed.
Space will not permit me to enlarge on the general principles connected with the native problem in British East Africa. But I believe every thinking man who knows the country will agree that the first necessity for the native is to be made to work, along with gradual education in the elementary Christian virtues of honesty, truth-telling, and some degree of thrift. Native labour is the necessary corollary in Equatorial Africa to the white man's brains and enterprise. The very worst master the native can have is himself. The registration of labour, an effective pass-law, adequate taxation of idle nomad tribes, where they will feel it most -through their flocks and herds--the simplest and most effective
code and administration of criminal law-all these things are talked of, and sooner or later will have to come. Meantime, for the stay-at-home philanthropist to talk of the native as a possible. equal of the white man, at all events for many generations to come, is mischievous folly. He is a child in intellect and morals. Allow him a white standard of freedom, and he still remains a miserable slave to his own inherent laziness and evil passions, the legacy of centuries of savagery. Ours is the responsibility to reclaim these millions of natives, and of fair acres of the earth's surface, for civilisation and development-a responsibility from which it is impossible to withdraw.
The impartial administration of justice as between white and black is the last of our British East African responsibilities to which I here briefly refer. The question is a grave and complex one, as only those who have studied the native mind and character, and lived in close contact with them, can fully realise. Some recent events, in South as well as East Africa, in connexion with this subject are fresh in the public recollection. A native condemned to death for an outrage on a white woman in South Africa was not long since reprieved by the High Commissioner. A white resident in Rhodesia subsequently shot another native for insulting his daughter, was tried on a charge of murder or culpable homicide, and acquitted by a white jury. A British subject, a well-known and popular white settler in British East Africa, has been recently deported by order of the Imperial authorities, after his acquittal by a jury of his fellow-colonists from the charge of murder or culpable homicide in the shooting of a native sheepstealer practically caught in the act. The facts and details of these cases, the latter in particular, are now common knowledge, and need not be restated here. They have already been discussed in the public Press, the deportation case especially having been the subject of some controversy in regard to its legality, and to the responsibility assumed by the Home Government in going behind the verdict of a colonial jury and ordering the deportation of an acquitted and therefore legally innocent man.
Without going further into these aspects of the matter, on which I have already commented elsewhere,' I conclude with a brief reference to the wider question-namely, the extent of the responsibility of the Home Government, or the Imperial authorities, in seeing that stern, even-handed justice, irrespective of race, creed, or colour, is impartially meted out to all alike in our distant Colonies and Protectorates inhabited by subject native
In consequence of the facts already recited, it has been contended in some responsible quarters that jury trial has hopelessly broken down in our white-and-black race Colonies owing to
See Times of 7th November 1911.
racial bias; that some other tribunal and process of trial must be substituted, and, inferentially, that until this is done, direct interference by the Home Government, such as happened in the deportation case, for example, is fully justified.
It may be noted here that constitutional alteration of procedure is one thing, while direct interference from Home is quite another affair. Let us keep the distinction perfectly clear. The former is an arguable proposition, with historic precedent to support it. When jury trial broke down in Ireland owing to political and agrarian agitation, other temporary tribunals were appointed under the Crimes Act in proclaimed districts. But this was a public and constitutional proceeding, and only adopted after, not one or two, but many jury acquittals in face of the clearest evidence had taken place. Also the safeguards of trial in open court and in the locality itself were maintained.
Direct Imperial interference of the kind under discussion has none of these recommendations and safeguards. It is unconstitutional and unprecedented in modern history. It is a secret, not a public, process. It ignores the opinion of the locality. It smacks of the Star Chamber.
In an interesting and instructive article in the January Fortnightly, by Mr. H. Lardner Burke, K.C., entitled 'Trial by Jury in our African Colonies,' the question of modifying the jury system in British East Africa is fully dealt with, and South African precedents are cited. Referring to the deportation case Mr. Burke writes:
The principle involved is of the highest importance. We cannot have executive interference with legal results. Security vanishes and uncertainty reigns. We cannot countenance the principle of deporting an acquitted man, or the plea of autrefois acquit will lose its beneficent significance in our legal system.
All this is admirable. A change of tribunal is then advocated. Unfortunately in an earlier paragraph the article is somewhat marred and prejudice aroused by the allegation of callous heartlessness against the deportee. From information obtained upon the spot, I believe this allegation to be entirely unfounded, and based on an erroneous and distorted presentment of the facts. Inasmuch also as local white opinion approved the acquittal and disapproved of the deportation, the allegation is a constructive slur on the white manhood of British East Africa.
But let all this pass. Assume, for the sake of argument, that direct interference, as has already been maintained in some quarters, is justified by circumstances. The corollary of this contention has not yet been mentioned, so far as I know, in any quarter, and it is, I submit, the essence of the whole case
VOL. XXI-No 420