rule of Portugal than in severing the Channel Islands from Great Britain. It is far better that such a group should remain under the flag of a Power doomed by her very weakness to be neutral.

When we come to Portuguese Guinea the case is different. This is a territory about 14,000 square miles in extent, which is a large enclave in French Senegambia. It originated with the first starting of the slave trade by Portugal at the close of the fifteenth century. From this period onwards Portuguese-mostly men of bad character exiled from their own land-settled on the rivers between the Gambia and Sierra Leone, intermarried with the natives and traded with slaves. But whatever the Portuguese did in the way of establishment of direct sovereignty on the Gold Coast, at Hwida, on the Congo, and in Angola, they never seem to have founded any form of government in Portuguese Guineanothing, in fact, more than trading stations. Nevertheless, in 1870, when Great Britain was seeking to unite by a protectorate her colonies of the Gambia and Sierra Leone, the Portuguese put in a claim to Bolama, a minute island between the Bissagos Archipelago and the mainland. Bolama was first made famous by the attempt of British philanthropists in the latter part of the eighteenth century to found a kind of Liberia in this direction, a settlement for the establishment of freed slaves. Owing to the attacks of the interior natives and to the unhealthy climate this settlement was abandoned, but not apparently on account of any protests from the Portuguese Government. However, the case was submitted to arbitration, and was lost by Great Britain, and after the middle of the 'seventies of the last century the Portuguese definitely established themselves at Bolama, and had introduced a considerable amount of law and order on the island when I visited the place in 1883. Later on, by arrangement with France, Portuguese Guinea was mapped out as a territory of considerable size. There still, however, remained much that was almost unknown to the cartographer and naturalist, though it has just been fully explored by Captain Powell Cotton. Owing to lack of funds and distractions elsewhere the Portuguese have not pursued actively that development which struck me as very noteworthy in 1883. The natives of the region are truculent, and frequently oppose the Portuguese in arms; though some of them-freely or as deported malefactors-are employed as labourers for the São Thomé plantations. From time to time, through native turbulence, there arise frontier troubles with the French. As far as one can venture to be wise in other people's business, it would really seem as though the Portuguese Government would do well to consider any offer which might be made by the French Republic to purchase Portuguese Guinea.

Portugal gave up her shadowy protectorate over Dahomé

(S. João d'Ajudá) during the time of the great settlement of
African affairs between 1884 and 1889; and her place there was
taken by France. Consequently, after leaving Portuguese Guinea
one has to steam eastwards a week or more before next
encountering the Portuguese flag. This is hoisted over two
small islands of the Gulf of Guinea-Principe and São Thomé
-at no very great distance from the mainland of the Cameroons.
Principe is the smaller of the two-about 42 square miles
in area.
It has an extremely rich soil, but unhealthy con-
ditions of life, recently made worse by the introduction of
sleeping sickness. Its fantastic sugar-loaf mountains, rising
to something between two and three thousand feet, are
clothed to their summits with dense forests. A visit to this lovely
but unhealthy island steeps one in melancholy. In the days of
the slave trade, and in the times when cane-sugar was of great
value, it was extremely prosperous. The Portuguese raised hand-
some buildings of stone-churches, palaces, barracks—which are
now in ruins and half concealed in some of the most extravagant
tropical jungle one can behold, for in Principe and São Thomé
the traveller may see in splendour of vegetation the culmination
of Equatorial Africa. Much of the ill-health of the island is due
to lack of drainage, and to this excessive growth of vegetation,
which harbours disease-carrying myriads of mosquitoes and tsetse
flies. The last-named have recently inoculated the negroes of
Principe with the dreaded sleeping sickness. The restoration of
Principe to a new prosperity and to fairly healthful conditions is
mainly a matter of money, including a war of extermination.
against Glossina palpalis, the local tsetse, which does not penetrate
far into the interior. The rich volcanic soil of Principe would seem
to be singularly well adapted to the growth of the finest kind of
cacao. The cultivation of cacao (the bean from which chocolate
and cocoa are made) has made the recent fame of São Thomé.
São Thomé is an earthly paradise, for whites as well as for blacks,
though the regions along the seashore (partly owing to defective
sanitation) are not healthy for Europeans. It is an island of about
four hundred square miles in area, very mountainous, rising in
places to over 7000 feet. About 2000 feet above sea-level and
upwards begin the plantations of cacao, cinchona, coffee, and other
products, which have been established by the Portuguese since the
middle of the nineteenth century," and which as regards an
incentive to commerce have taken the place of the slave trade,
from which São Thomé derived its former prosperity. A visit to
some of these Portuguese plantations is one of the most complete
surprises and delightful episodes which can occur in a West-
African tour.

On the back of a horse or a mule (the island is free
Cacao was first introduced from Brazil in 1822.

from the tsetse fly), or even by carriage along well-made roads (to say nothing of the new railway), the traveller ascends through forest of equatorial splendour till he reaches the region of treeferns, and here is that crisp feeling in the air at nights, that welcome tang of cold, which gives back the sleep and delight in a warm bed to the body jaded with unrefreshing nights of dank heat -for São Thomé, though under the Equator, is no warmer than Madeira. Here he will see Portuguese ladies with fresh complexions, and it may even be (if they have come from the north of Portugal) golden hair and blue eyes. Their husbands are equally creditable specimens-physically speaking-of the mixed Lusitanian types. Their comfortable, well-furnished houses may quite possibly contain fireplaces, in which in the evening burns a welcome log-fire. The plantations for the most part are superbly kept, and the whole island bears the unmistakable impress of prosperity and the civilised amenities which come with commercial success. But, of course, there rests on this development the slur, the drawback, that it has been achieved largely by methods of which the European conscience cannot approve.

Principe wholly and São Thomé partially became ruined, first, by the suppression of the slave trade, and secondly, by the abolition in 1878 of slavery within the Portuguese dominions. There was a brief pause in which the bankrupt merchants and settlers who remained in these regions and did not emigrate to Brazil, looked about in vain for cheap unskilled labour to cultivate their sugar, cacao, coffee, and pineapples. It is true that both islands and especially São Thomé-contained a fairly large negro population, descended from slaves imported during three centuries, or from the negro crews of slave-ships shipwrecked on the coasts. But in São Thomé more especially the greater part of this population had quitted the vicinity of the Portuguese settlements to resume a semi-savage existence in the forests and on such of the island-coasts as were far away from safe landing-places, and thus out of reach of ships. Such, for example, are--or werethe Angolares of São Thomé, a warlike negro race descended from 200 natives of Angola who reached the island in a wrecked ship 368 years ago. These people have become, like the Bush negroes in former times of Dutch Guiana and the Maroon negroes of the British West Indies, an independent race with a strong dislike and distrust of the white man.3 The Portuguese found it impossible to coerce the runaway negroes of São Thomé and Principe into work of any kind, the difficulty being not merely one of

The Angolares occupied the southern part of the island, and though frequently announced as conquered,' remained independent till a few years ago, when a remarkable Portuguese doctor, Matheus de Sampaio, settled among them and won them over by kindness of treatment.

physical courage (which might have been counteracted by the European's superior weapons), but the impenetrability of the dense forests and jungles in which the black people lived; and where they made such plantations as were necessary to supply their requirements in vegetable-food, living otherwise on sea fish, wild birds, and on the goats, fowls, and pigs which had somehow been snatched from the Portuguese settlements and afterwards bred freely in the negro villages. Probably this difficulty might have been overcome if there had existed in these islands, before the advent of such men as Matheus de Sampaio, a Portuguese planter, merchant or official with strength of character and a rigid belief in honesty of principles. But such negroes as ventured to accept the lure of well-paid employment offered to them found themselves either enslaved anew or cheated out of their wages.

Not many years elapsed, however, before the Portuguese Government discovered a way out of the difficulty here, as in East Africa. Slavery and the slave trade could not be re-instituted under the watchful eye of the British Government so far as actual names went, but a very good imitation of it (as had already been discovered by British-Australian planters in the Pacific Islands and Queensland) could be made by a system of forced apprenticeship. In 1882, when travelling with the Earl of Mayo through the southern parts of Angola, I found myself a witness unconsciously to the way in which the labour difficulties of São Thomé were being met. Portuguese traders were reviving or creating a brisk trade in slaves with the powerful chiefs of that region. The slaves, however, were 'redeemed,' not purchased, and having been redeemed they were apprenticed for long terms to the agents of the São Thomé planters. This system proving a success, as the Portuguese power in Angola increased after the middle 'eighties, large numbers of natives were captured in wars which were undertaken to subdue or chastise rebellious chiefs, and these captives likewise were apprenticed with forms and ceremonies exhaling (in words) an intelligent philanthropy that was theoretically most admirable. Thus São Thomé received the labour it required at relatively cheap rates. But the apprentices seldom or never returned to their native land, seldom or never received any emolument for their services. Otherwise, they were admirably treated. Highly qualified doctors were attached to each large plantation or group of plantations, the houses or barracks in which the apprentices were lodged were comfortable and clean, the men were encouraged to marry and the women to bear children, and the food given to them was of excellent quality. They had no excessive hours of work, and the Sunday was a great holiday. Some attempt was made to Christianise and educate them, and everything was done to create merriment and light-heartedness, save the precious gift

of freedom. Lord Mayo, on his return from his tour through Southern Angola and Northern Ovampoland, was one of the first unofficial persons to call attention to these proceedings, though the British Consuls on the coast had not failed to do so earlier still. Probably their reports were published in Blue-books, but if so they attracted little attention. But at last the matter was taken up, more especially by Quaker merchants engaged in the cacao trade. The evils of the apprenticeship system, moreover, were also strenuously attacked by the British Baptist missionaries in Western Congoland, and by several German explorers who were witnesses of slave raids instigated or undertaken by the Portuguese in the borderlands of Angola and the Belgian Congo."

To some extent since the establishment of the Portuguese Republic, steps have been taken to put a stop to a practice which has desolated so much of Southern Angola to the profit of the São Thomé planters. The deplorable thing about the whole business is, that if Angola had been rightly governed during the past three centuries there would be no difficulty in obtaining labour thence or from the Lower Congo for the development of the magnificent resources in climate and soil of São Thomé, and in bringing health and prosperity to Principe. Likewise, if the Portuguese Government had been other than it was for three centuries, such an island as São Thomé should have been colonised not by negroes but by white Portuguese, by peasants of the same type as that which has provided the population of Madeira and the Azores, the bulk of the Brazilians, and the hard-working, prosperous Portuguese agriculturists in British Guiana, the Windward Islands, the Bermudas, and Hawaii. And if only really able officials, and not mere political place-holders, could be sent out to administer Portuguese Congo and Angola, and their administration could instil real confidence into the large negro populations of those districts, São Thomé and Principe would get all the free labour they wanted if the planters offered good wages and reasonably short contracts-three years at most. The negroes of SouthWest Africa are by no means lacking in enterprise. Congo natives in search of lucrative employment now find their way as far afield as Liberia. The celebrated Kru boys of Liberia, implicitly trusting to the good faith of British, German, and Dutch merchants or officials, go by sea as much as two thousand miles away from

Full treatment of this subject is given in my book George Grenfell and the Congo. And as regards the problem of São Thomé, two weeks which have recently appeared deserve to be read: Labour in Portuguese West Africa, by Mr. W. A. Cadbury, and A Mão d'obra em São Thomé e Principe (Labour in São Thomé and Principe), by Senhor Francisco Mantero (Lisbon, 1910). Mr. Cadbury's book, though it emphasises the English point of view, is very fair. Senhor Mantero's well-illustrated work presents the Portuguese point of view from too partial a standpoint, but is full of information.

« VorigeDoorgaan »