(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Nigeria, its peoples and its problems"

Bii;ii;P 



QforncU HtUoeraitjj ffilibrarg 



BOUGHT WITH THE INCOME OF THE 

FISKE ENDOWMENT FUND 

THE BEOUESTOF 

WILLARD FISKE 

LIBRARIAN OF THE UNIVERSITY 186a-!883 

1905 



Cornell University Library 
DT 515.M83 



Nigeria, its 



leoples and Its problems 




3 1924 028 648 974 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924028648974 



NIGERIA 
ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 




(Copyi'iglU.' 



A BORGU CANOE-MAN. 

(Photii by All'. H. Finuiii. 



b'rvntispicce. 



NIGERIA 

ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 



BY 

E. D. MOREL 

EDITOR OF '*THE AFRICAN MAIL*' 
AUTHOR OF "affairs OF WEST AFRICA," "tHE BRITISH CASE IN FRENCH CONGO,' 

'*KiNG Leopold's rule in Africa," "red rubber," •* great Britain 

AND the CONGO," "tHE FUTURE OF THE CONGO," ETC. 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS 



LONDON 
SMITH, ELDER & CO., 15, WATERLOO PLACE 

1911 

All rights reserved 



TO THE MEMORY 

OF 

MARY KINGSLEY 

WHO POINTED THE WAY 



PREFACE 

I HAVE to express, in the first place, my indebtedness to 
the Editor and Management of the Times and of the 
Manchester Guardian for permission to reproduce the 
articles and maps which appeared in the columns of those 
newspapers, and to all those who have so generously 
helped me to overcome an accident to my camera by 
placing their own admirable photographic work at my 
disposal. 

In the second place, I desire to record my sincere 
appreciation for the courtesy I received from the Colonial 
Ofiice in connection with a recent visit to Nigeria ; and 
to Sir Walter and Lady Egerton, Sir Henry Hesketh Bell, 
Mr. Charles Temple (Acting-Governor of Northern Nigeria) 
and their Staffs for the kindness and hospitality extended 
to me while there. 

Also to the Management and Staff of the Southern and 
Northern Nigeria railways ; in particular to the Director 
of the Public Works Department of the Northern Pro- 
tectorate, Mr. John Eaglesome and to Mrs. Eaglesome, 
and to Mr. Firmin, the Resident Engineer of the Southern 
Nigeria line at Jebba. 

My travels in the country were facilitated in every 
way possible, and the kindness everywhere shown me in 
both Protectorates far transcended any claim which 
ordinary courtesy to a stranger might have suggested. 

To the British merchants established in Nigeria I am 
.under similar obligations, more particularly to Messrs. 
John Holt & Co., Ltd., who were good enough to place 
their steamers at my disposal. To Messrs. Elder Dempster 
& Co. I am similarly indebted. 

My special thanks are due to my friends Mr. and 
Mrs. William A. Cadbury and Mr. John Holt and bis 

vii A 2 



PREFACE 

sons, for much personal kindness in connection with my 
journey. I am indebted to Mr. Trigge, of the Niger 
Company, Mr. W. H. Himbury, of the British Cotton 
Growing Association, and many others who have 
responded with unwearied patience to my importunate 
questionings. 

I have also to express my sense of obligation to the 
Native Community of Lagos — Christian, Mohammedan 
and Pagan — for the cordial public reception they accorded 
to me in that place ; and for the address with which they 
were good enough to present me. Also to the leading 
Native gentlemen of Freetown for the kind hospitality 
they extended to me during my short stay at the capital of 
Sierra Leone, and to the Mohammedan Chiefs representing 
many different tribes of the hinterland, who there fore- 
gathered, under Dr. Blyden's roof, to bid me welcome, 
and for the addresses they presented to me. 

West Africa is a land of controversy. There is not, I 
think, any question of public interest concerned with it 
that does not give rise to acute differences of opinion into 
which some influence — the climate, perhaps — and the fact 
that the country is going through a difficult transition 
stage, seems not infrequently to infuse a measure of 
bitterness. I fear it is unavoidable that some of the 
opinions expressed in this volume, if they give pleasure in 
certain quarters, will give displeasure in others. I can 
only ask those who may be affected in the latter sense to 
believe that the writer has really had no other object in 
view than that of setting forth the facts as he saw them, 
and to draw from those facts the inferences which com- 
mended themselves to a judgment no doubt full of im- 
perfections, but able, at any rate, to claim sincerity as its 
guiding motive. 

E. D, Morel. 

August, 1911. 



VUl 



INTRODUCTION 

My chief object in presenting to the public in book form a 
collection of articles recently published in the Times * as 
revised, together with additional matter, has been that of 
increasing — if haply this should be the effect — ^public 
interest in the greatest and most interesting of our tropical 
African Protectorates. It has been my endeavour through- 
out not to overload the story with detail, but to paint, or 
try to paint, a picture of Nigeria as it is to-day ; to portray 
the life of its people, the difficulties and tasks of its British 
governors, and the Imperial responsibilities the nation has 
contracted in assuming control over this vast region. 

Parts II., III., and IV. consist of an attempt at a 
serious study of these things. 

Part I. consists of a mere series of pen and ink sketches, 
so to speak ; impressions jotted down in varying moods. 
The value, if, indeed, they have any value at all, of these 
disjointed ramblings lies in the glimpse they may afford 
of native character and the nature of the country, thus 
helping, perhaps, to bring Nigeria a little nearer to us. 

I ought, perhaps, to apologize for not having incorpo- 
rated a history of the British occupation of Nigeria. But, 
apart from the circumstance that Captain Orr, now 
Colonial Secretary for Cyprus, and for many years Resident 
in Northern Nigeria, is, I understand, about to publish a 
volume on that subject written with the inside knowledge 

* With the exception of the articles on Cotton, which appeared in the 
Manchester Guardian. 

ix 



INTRODUCTION 

which he so peculiarly possesses : the thing has already 
been done by others. 

It seemed to me that if any public utility at all were 
to be attached to my own modest effort, it could more 
fittingly be sought in the direction of handling, from an 
independent outsider's point of view, problems of actuality 
in their setting of existing circumstances and conditions ; 
and in emphasizing a fact sometimes apt to be forgotten, 
I mean that in these Dependencies the Native is the im- 
portant person to be considered, quite as much from the 
Imperial as from any other standpoint, interpreting 
Imperialism as personally I interpret it, to signify a good 
deal more than painting the map red and indulging in 
tall talk about " possessions " and about " inferior races." 
In Nigeria, the Nigerian is not, as some persons appear to 
regard him, merely an incidental factor but the paramount 
factor. Nigeria is not a Colony ; it is a Dependency. 

The West African native has two classes of enemies, one 
positive, the other unconscious. The ranks of both are 
not only recruited from members of the white race : they 
are to be found among members of the West African's own 
household. The first class corresponds to the school of 
European thought concerning tropical Africa, whose 
adherents object to the West African being a land-owner, 
and whose doctrine it is that in the economic development 
of the country the profits should be the exclusive appanage 
of the white race, the native's role being that of labourer 
and wage-earner for all time. 

In the fulfilment of the role thus assigned to him, some 
of the adherents of this school, those with the longest 
sight, would be quite prepared to treat the individual 
native well ; others would cheerfully impose their will by 
brutal violence. That is a temperamental affair which 
does not touch the essence of the deeper issue. 

To this class of enemies belong some of the educated or 
half-educated Europeanized natives whom our educational 

X 



INTRODUCTION 

and religious system divorces from their race, and 
who, having no outlet and bereft of national or racial 
pride, betray the interests of their country into the hands 
of its foes. 

The second class is to be met with among the ranks of 
those who, by striking at slavery and abuse, have rendered 
enormous benefit to the West African, but who were also 
unwittingly responsible for fastening upon his neck a heavy 
yoke, and who, not only with no motive of self-interest, 
but, on the contrary, with the most generous desire to 
minister to his welfare, are to-day in danger of ministering 
to his undoing. It is not easy to affix any particular label 
to those influences which, in the political field, contributed 
so powerfully in handing over the Congo to Leopold II. 
(afterwards strenuously co-operating in freeing its peoples 
from his grasp) and in placing two million West Africans 
in Liberia under the pettily tyrannous incompetence of a 
handful of American Blacks. They are partly educational, 
partly philanthropic, partly religious. The basis of senti- 
ment animating them appears to be that a kindness is 
being done to the West African by the bestowal upon him 
of European culture, law, religion and dress, and that, 
having thus unmade him as an African, those responsible 
are in duty bound to support the product of their own 
creation in its automatic and inevitable revolt against 
authority, whether represented by the Native Ruler or by 
the European Administrator. In the form it at present 
takes, and in the circumstances too often accompanjdng 
it, this is not a kindness but a cruel wrong. 

Let me try to make my meaning perfectly clear in 
regard to this latter case. I make no attack upon any 
organization or body. I criticize the trend of certain 
influences, and I willingly admit, as all must do, even those 
who most dread their effects, that these influences have 
their origin in centres imbued with genuine altruism. 
Also that of one side of them nothing but good can be 

xi 



INTRODUCTION 

said — the destructive side, the side which is ever prepared 
to respond to the call of human suffering. Neither do I 
suggest that education can, or should be, arrested. I 
simply lay down this double proposition. First, that 
educational and allied influences, whose combined effect 
is to cause the West African to lose his racial identity, 
must produce unhappiness and unrest of a kind which is 
not susceptible of evolving a compensating constructive 
side. Secondly, that in no period of time which can be 
forecast, will the condition of West African society 
permit of the supreme governing power being shared 
by both races, although short of the casting vote, so to 
speak, policy should everywhere be directed towards 
consolidating and strengthening Native authority. 

Still less do I make any reflection upon the educated 
West African as such. Among these Westernized Natives 
are men to be regarded with the utmost respect, for they 
have achieved the well-nigh insuperable. They have 
succeeded, despite all, in remaining African in heart and 
sentiment ; and in retaining their dignity in the midst of 
difficulties which only the most sympathetic alien mind 
can appreciate, and, even so, not wholly. To Mary 
Kingsley alone, perhaps, was it given to probe right down 
to the painful complexities of their position as only a 
woman, and a gifted woman, specially endowed, could do. 
Of such men the great Fanti lawyer, John Mensah Sarbah, 
whose recent and premature death is a calamity for West 
Africa, was one of the best types. The venerable Dr. E. 
Wilmot Blyden, whose race will regard him some day as 
its misunderstood prophet, is another. One could name 
others. Perchance their numbers are greater than is 
usually supposed, and are not confined to men of social 
distinction and learning. And these men wring their 
hands. They see, and they feel, the pernicious results 
of a well-meaning but mistaken policy. They appreciate 
the depth of the abyss. But they lack the power of 

xii 



INTRODUCTION 

combination, and their position is delicate to a degree 
which Europeans, who do not reahze the innumerable 
undercurrents and intrigues of denationalized West 
African society are unable to grasp. 

Between these two schools of thought, the " damned 
nigger " school and the denationalizing school (that, 
without appreciating it, plays into the hands of the first), 
which threaten the West African in his freedom, his pro- 
perty and his manhood, there is room for a third. One 
which, taking note to-day that the West African is a land- 
owner, desires that he shall continue to be one under 
British rule, not with decreasing but with increasing 
security of tenure ; taking note that to-day the West 
African is an agriculturist, a farmer, a herdsman, and, 
above all, to the marrow of his bones, a trader, declines to 
admit that he should be degraded, whether by direct or 
indirect means, to the position of a hireling ; taking note 
that customary law it is which holds native society 
together, calls for its increased study and demands that 
time shall be allowed for its gradual improvement from 
within, deprecating its supersession by European formulee 
of law in the name of " reform," for which the country is 
not ripe and whose application can only dislocate, not 
raise. West African social life. A school of thought which, 
while prepcired to fight with every available weapon 
against attempts to impose conditions of helotism upon 
the West African, earnestly pleads that those controlling 
the various influences moulding his destinies from without, 
shall be inspired to direct their energies towards making 
him a better African, not a hybrid. A school of thought 
which sees in the preservation of the West African's land for 
him and his descendants ; in a system of education which 
shall not anglicize ; in technical instruction ; in assisting 
and encouraging agriculture, local industries and scientific 
forestry ; in introducing labour-saving appliances, and in 
strengthening all that is best, materially and spiritually, 

xiii 



INTRODUCTION 

in aboriginal institutions, the highest duties of our Imperial 
rule. A school of thought whose aim it is to see Nigeria, 
at least, become in time the home of highly-trained African 
peoples, protected in their property and in their rights by 
the paramount Power, proud of their institutions, proud 
of their race, proud of their own fertile and beautiful 
land. 

E. D. Morel. 

August, igii. 



XIV 



CONTENTS 

PART I 
THOUGHTS ON TREK 

CHAPTEH PAGE 

I. On what Has been and May be 3 

II. On the Great White Road 8 

III. On the Carrier 14 

IV. On African Modesty and African Courtesy . . -19 
V. On the meaning of " Religious " 24 

VI. A Ragout of Things Seen and Felt 29 

VII. The Sallah at Zaria 35 

PART II 
SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

I. Nigeria's Claim upon Public Attention .... 45 

II. The Niger Delta 49 

III. The Forest Belt 56 

IV. The Central and Eastern Provinces 62 

V. Lagos and its Port — The Future Bombay of West Africa 71 

VI. The Yorubas and their Country 76 

VII. British Policy in Yorubaland 82 

PART III 
NORTHERN NIGERIA 

I. The Natural Highway to the Uplands of the North . 91 

II. Northern Nigeria prior to the British Occupation . 98 

III. The Indigenous Civilization of the North . . .103 

XV 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

IV. The Life of the People— The Long-distance Trader 107 
V. The Life of the People — The Agriculturist . .111 
VL The Life of the People— The Herdsman and the 

Artisan 118 

VH. The City of Kano and its Market 123 

VIIL A Visit to the Emir of Kano 130 

IX. Governing on Native Lines 136 

X. The Foundations of Native Society — The Tenure of 

Land 140 

XI. The Foundations of Native Society — The Administra- 
tive Machinery 145 

XII. The Preservation of the National Life . . .151 

XIII. A Page of History and its Moral 155 

XIV. A Scheme of National Education 160 

XV. Commercial Development 166 

XVI. Mining Development and the Bauchi Plateau . . 175 
XVII. The necessity of Amalgamating the Two Pro- 
tectorates 187 

XVIII. Railway Policy and Amalgamation 194 

XIX. An Unauthorized Scheme of Amalgamation . . .201 

PART IV 

ISLAM, COTTON GROWING, AND THE LIQUOR 
TRAFFIC 

I. Christianity and Islam in Southern Nigeria . . 213 

II. The Cotton Industry 222 

III. The Cotton Industry — continued 232 

IV. The Liquor Traffic in Southern Nigeria . . .245 

Index 263 



XVI 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

A BORGU Canoe-Man Frontispiece 

Photo by Mr. E. Firmin {Copyright) 

FACING PAGE 

Through Plain and Valley and Mountain Side "... 6 

" We have trekked together " ....... 6 

A Group of Tuaregs 8 

A Bornu Ox 8 

" Magnificent Specimens of the Vegetable Kingdom " . . lo 

Dug-out on the Kaduna manned by Nupes 30 

" Silhouetting perchance a Group of Palms " . . . -30 
The Hoe-dancers (the Hoe-dance is a Hausa Agricultural 

Dance of Great Antiquity) 34 

The "Jaffi" or Mounted Salute 36 

Photo by Captain Mance. 

The Emir of Zaria 38 

The Emir of Katsina 38 

Ju-ju Island near Jebba 46 

Photo by Mr. E, Firmin {Copyright) 

Shipping Palm Oil on the Niger at High Water ... 46 

The Tropical Bush 56 

One of the Communal Rubber Plantations (Funtumia 

elastica) Benin City 66 

Photo by Mr. A H. Unviin, 

A Scene in Yorubaland 66 

Photo by Mr, A. H. Unwin. 

Benin City To-day. Bini Chiefs sitting outside their New 
Court House 68 

Photo by Sir Walter Egerton. 

One of the Sacred Stone Images at Ife, the Spiritual 
Centre of Yorubaland 78 

Photo by Mr. A. H. Unwin. 

One of the Sons of the Shehu of Bornu 78 

Entrance to the "Afin" or Residence of the Alafin of 
Oyo, showing Typical Yoruba Thatching .... 82 

Photo by Mr, A. H. Unwin. 

View of Lokoja and Native Town from Mount Pattey look- 
ing S.E., the Benue in the Distance 96 

A Nigerian Hunter stalking Game with the Head of the 

Ground Hornbill affixed to his Forehead . . . .108 

Photo by Mr. E. Firman {Cofyrighf) 

xvii 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

A Trading Caravan no 

Photo by Mr. Charles Temple. 

Fruit Sellers 112 

Water Carriers 112 

A GwARRi Girl 116 

A Hausa Trading Woman 116 

A FuLANi Girl 118 

Photo by Mr. Charles Temple. 

Panning for Iron 120 

Photo by Mr. A. H. Unwin. 

Dye-Pits 120 

A View of a Part of Kano City (Inside the Wall) . . .124 

One of the Gateways to Kano City, showing Outer Wall . 128 

Another of the Entrances to the City 128 

Inside Kano City 132 

The Emir of Kano on the March 134 

Corner of a Native Market 148 

Photo by Mr. Freer-Hill. 

Another Corner 148 

Photo by Mr. Freer-Hill. 

Iron Smelters 164 

FuLANi Cattle 164 

Photo by Mr. Charles Temple 

Scene in the Bauchi Highlands 184 

Photo by Mr. Charles Temple. 

Scene on the Southern Nigeria (Extension) Railway . . 194 

Photo by Mr. Freer-Hill. 

Plate-laying on the Northern Nigeria Railway . . -194 

Photo by Captain Mance. 

Landing Place at Baro 196 

Group of Railway Labourers — Baro 196 

Village Head-men 198 

Women Cotton Spinners 232 

Men Weaving 232 

MAPS 

Map of Southern Nigeria 46 

„ Northern Nigeria 92 

„ Illustrating an Unauthorized Scheme of Amalgamation 204 

xviii 



PARTI 
THOUGHTS ON TREK 



CHAPTER I 

ON WHAT HAS BEEN AND MAY BE 

After trekking on horseback five hundred miles or so, 
you acquire the philosophy of this kind of locomotion. 
For it has a philosophy of its own, and with each day 
that passes you become an apter pupil. You learn many 
things, or you hope you do, things internally evolved. 
But when you come to the point of giving external shape 
to them by those inefficient means the human species is 
as yet virtually confined to — speech and writing — ^you 
become painfully conscious of inadequate powers. Every 
day brings its own panorama of nature unfolding before 
your advance ; its own special series of human incidents — 
serious, humorous, irritating, soothing — its own thought 
waves. And it is not my experience that these long silent 
hours — for conversation with one's African companions is 
necessarily limited and sporadic — induce, by what one 
would imagine natural re-action, descriptive expansiveness 
when, pen in hand, one seeks to give substance to one's 
impressions. Rather the reverse, alack ! Silent com- 
muning doth seem to cut off communication between 
brain and pen. You are driven in upon yourself, and the 
channel of outward expression dries up. For a scribbler, 
against whom much has been imputed, well-nigh all the 
crimes, indeed, save paucity of output, the phenomenon 
is not without its alarming side, at least to one's self. In 
one's friends it may well inspire a sense of blessed relief. 
One day holds much — so much of time, so much of 

3 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

space, so much of change. The pahng stars or the waning 
moon greet your first swing into the saddle, and the air 
strikes crisp and chill. You are still there as the orange 
globe mounts the skies, silhouetting, perchance, a group 
of palms, flooding the crumbling walls of some African 
village, to whose inhabitants peace has ceased to make 
walls necessary — a sacrifice of the picturesque which, 
artistically, saddens — or lighting some fantastic peak of 
granite boulders piled up as though by Titan's hand. You 
are still there when the rays pour downwards from on high, 
strike upwards from dusty track and burning rock, and 
all the countryside quivers and simmers in the glow. 
Sometimes you may still be there — it has happened to me 
— when the shadows fall swiftly, and the cry of the crown- 
birds, seeking shelter for the night on some marshy spot 
to their liking, heralds the dying of the day. From cold, 
cold great enough to numb hands and feet, to gentle 
warmth, as on a June morning at home ; from fierce and 
stunning heat, wherein, rocked by the " triple " of your 
mount, you drowse and nod, to cooling evening breeze. 
You pass, in the twenty-four hours, through-all the gamut 
of climatic moods, which, at this time of the year, makes 
this country at once invigorating and, to my thinking, 
singularly treacherous, especially on the Bauchi plateau, 
over which a cold wind often seems to sweep, even in the 
intensity of the noontide sun, and where often a heavy 
overcoat seems insufficient to foster warmth when dark- 
ness falls upon the land. 

So much of time and change — each day seems com- 
posed of many days. Ushered in on level plain, furrowed 
"by the agriculturist's hoe, dotted with colossal trees, 
smiling with farm and hamlet ; it carries you onward 
through many miles of thick young forest, where saplings 
of but a few years' growth dispute their life with rank and 
yellow grasses, and thence in gradual ascent through rock- 
strewn paths until your eye sees naught but a network of 

4 



ON WHAT HAS BEEN AND MAY BE 

hills ; to leave you at its close skirting a valley thickly 
overgrown with bamboo and semi-tropical vegetation, 
where the flies do congregate, and seek, unwelcomed, a 
resting-place inside your helmet. Dawning amid a sleep- 
ing town, heralded by the sonorous call of the Muslim 
priest, which lets loose the vocal chords of human, quad- 
ruped and fowl, swelling into a murmur of countless sounds 
and increasing bustle ; it will take you for many hours 
through desolate stretches, whence human life, if life there 
ever was, has been extirpated by long years of such law- 
lessness and ignorance as once laid the blight of grisly ruin 
over many a fair stretch of English homestead. Yes, you 
may, in this land of many memories, and mysteries still 
unravelled, pass, within the same twenty-four hours, the 
flourishing settlement With every sign of plenty and of 
promise, and the blackened wreck of communities once 
prosperous before this or that marauding band of free- 
booters brought fire and slaughter, death to the man, 
slavery to the woman and the infant — much as our 
truculent barons, whose doughty deeds we are taught in 
childhood to admire, acted in their little day. The motive 
and the immediate results differed not at all. What the 
ultimate end may be here lies in the womb of the future, 
for at this point the roads diverge. With us those dark 
hours vanished through the slow growth of indigenous 
evolution. Here the strong hand of the alien has inter- 
posed, and, stretching at present the unbridged chasm of a 
thousand years, has enforced reform from without. 

And what a weird thing it is when you come to worry 
it out, that this alien hand should have descended and 
compelled peace ! Viewed in the abstract, one feels it may 
be discussed as a problem of theory, for a second. One 
feels it permissible to ask, will the people, or rather will 
the Governors of the people which has brought peace to 
this land, which has enabled the peasant to till the soil 
and reap his harvest in quietness, which has allowed the 

5 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

weaver to pursue and profit by his industry in safety, 
which has estabhshed such security throughout the land, 
that you may see a woman and her child travelling alone 
and unprotected in the highways, carrying all their 
worldly possessions between them ; will this people's 
ultimate action be as equally beneficial as the early stages 
have been, or will its interference be the medium through 
which evils, not of violence, but economic, and as great as 
the old, will slowly, but certainly and subtly, eat into the 
hearts of these Nigerian homes and destroy their happiness, 
not of set purpose, but automatically, inevitably so ? I 
say that, approached as an abstract problem, it seems 
permissible to ask one's self that question as one wanders 
here and there over the face of the land, and one hears the 
necessity of commercially developing the country to save 
the British taxpayers' pockets, of the gentlemen who want 
to exploit the rubber forests of the Bauchi plateau, of the 
Chambers of Commerce that require the reservation of 
lands for British capitalists, and of those who argue that 
a native, who learned how to smelt tin before we knew 
there was tin in the country, should no longer be permitted 
to do so, now that we wish to smelt it ourselves, and of the 
railways and the roads which have to be built — ^yes, it 
seems permissible, though quite useless. But I confess 
that when one studies what is being done out here in the 
concrete, from the point of view of the men who are doing 
it, then it is no longer permissible to doubt. When one 
sees this man managing, almost single-handed, a country 
as large as Scotland ; when one sees that man, living in a 
leaky mud hut, holding, by the sway of his personality, 
the balance even between fiercely antagonistic races, in 
a land which would cover half a dozen of the large 
English counties ; when one sees the marvels accomplished 
by tact, passionate interest and self-control, with utterly 
inadequate means, in continuous personal discomfort, 
short-handed, on poor pay, out here in Northern Nigeria — 

6 



f ~■.'^^ 













"THROUGH PLAIN' AND \'ALLF.Y AND MOl^NTAIN SIDE. 







'^ ''t' '■- -1 -. 



H^' '!(.. I/; .■-■•■ 












;4 



:^'^"^ 






"WE HAVE TREKKED TOGETHER." 






S,c f. U. 



ON WHAT HAS BEEN AND MAY BE 

then one feels that permanent evil cannot ultimately 
evolve from so much admirable work accomplished, and 
that the end must make for good. 

And, thinking over this personal side of the matter as 
one jogs along up hill and down dale, through plain and 
valley and mountain side, through lands of plenty and 
lands of desolation, past carefully fenced-in fields of cotton 
and cassava, past the crumbling ruins of deserted habita- 
tions, along the great white dusty road through the heart 
of Hausaland, along the tortuous mountain track to the 
pagan stronghold, there keeps on murmuring in one's 
brain the refrain : " How is it done ? How is it done ? " 
Ten years ago, nay, but six, neither property nor life were 
safe. The peasant fled to the hills, or hurried at nightfall 
within the sheltering walls of the town. Now he is 
descending from the hills and abandoning the towns. 

And the answer forced upon one, by one's own observa- 
tions, is that the incredible has been wrought, primarily 
and fundamentally, not by this or that brilliant feat of 
arms, not by Britain's might or Britain's wealth, but by a 
handful of quiet men, enthusiastic in their appreciation of 
the opportunity, strong in their sense of duty, keen in their 
sense of right, firm in their sense of justice, who, working 
in an independence, and with a personal responsibility in 
respect to which, probably, no country now under the 
British flag can offer a parallel, whose deeds are unsung, 
and whose very names are unknown to their countrymen, 
have shown, and are every day showing, that, with all her 
faults, Britain does still breed sons worthy of the highest 
traditions of the race. 



CHAPTER II 

ON THE GREAT WHITE ROAD 

You may fairly call it the Great White Road to Hausaland, 
although it does degenerate in places into a mere track 
where it pierces some belt of shea-wood or mixed trees, 
and you are reduced to Indian file. But elsewhere it 
merits its appellation, and it glimmers ghostly in the moon- 
light as it cuts the plain, cultivated to its very edge with 
guinea-corn and millet, cassava and cotton, beans and 
pepper. And you might add the adjective, dusty, to it. 
For dusty at this season of the year it certainly is. Dusty 
beyond imagination. Surely there is no dust like this 
dust as it sweeps up at you, impelled by the harmattan 
blowing from the north, into your eyes and mouth and 
nose and hair ? Dust composed of unutterable things. 
Dust which countless bare human feet have tramped for 
months. Dust mingled with the manure of thousands of 
oxen, horses, sheep and goats. Dust which converts the 
glossy skin of the African into an unattractive drab, but 
which cannot impair his cheerfulness withal. Dust which 
eats its way into your boxes, and defies the brush applied 
to your clothes, and finds its way into your soup and all 
things edible and non-edible. Dust which gets between 
you and the sun, and spoils your view of the country, 
wrapping everything in a milky haze which distorts dis- 
tances and lies thick upon the foliage. The morning up 
to nine, say, will be glorious and clear and crisp, and then, 
sure enough, as you halt for breakfast and with sharpened 

8 




A GROUP CiF TfAKEGS. 







iJ0i^ir 







A BORNU OX. 



ON THE GREAT WHITE ROAD 

appetite await the looked-for " chop," a puff of wind will 
spring up from nowhere and in its train will come the dust. 
The haze descends and for the rest of the day King Dust 
will reign supreme. It is responsible for much sickness, 
this Sahara dust, of that my African friends and myself 
are equally convinced. You may see the turbaned 
members of the party draw the lower end of that useful 
article of apparel right across the face up to the eyes when 
the wind begins to blow. The characteristic litham of the 
Tuareg, the men of the desert, may have had its origin in 
the necessity, taught by experience, of keeping the dust 
out of nose and mouth. I have been told by an officer of 
much Northern Nigerian experience, that that terrible 
disease, known as cerebo-spinal meningitis, whose charac- 
teristic feature is inflammation of the membranes of the 
brain, and which appears in epidemic form out here, is 
aggravated, if not induced, in his opinion — and he assures 
me in the opinion of many natives he has consulted — by 
this disease-carrying dust. In every town and village in 
the Northern Hausa States, you will see various diseases 
of the eye lamentably rife, and here, I am incUned to 
think. King Dust also plays an active and discreditable 
part. 

The Great White Road. It thoroughly deserves that 
title from the point where one enters the Kano Province 
coming from Zaria. It is there not only a great white 
road but a very fine one, bordered on either side by a 
species of eucalyptus, and easily capable, so far as breadth 
is concerned, of allowing the passage of two large auto- 
mobiles abreast. I, personally, should not care to own 
the automobile which undertook the journey, because the 
road is ■ not exactly what we would call up-to-date. 
Thank Heaven that there is one part of the world, at least, 
to be found where neither roads, nor ladies' costumes are 
" up-to-date." If the Native Administration of the Kano 
Emirate had nothing else to be commended for, and under 

9 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the tactful guidance of successive Residents it has an 
increasing account to its credit, the traveller would bear 
it in grateful recollection for its preservation of the trees 
in the immediate vicinity of, and sometimes actually on 
the Great White Road itself. It is difficult to over-estimate 
the value to man and beast, to the hot and dusty European, 
to the weary-footed carrier, to the patient pack-ox, and 
cruelly-bitted native horse, of the occasional shady tree 
at the edge of or on the road. And what magnificent 
specimens of the vegetable kingdom the fertile soil of 
Kano Province does carry — our New Forest giants, though 
holding their own for beauty and shape and, of course, 
clinging about our hearts with all their wealth of historical 
memories and inherited familiarity, would look puny in 
comparison . With one exception I do not think anything 
on the adverse side of trivialities has struck me more 
forcibly out here than the insane passion for destroying 
trees which seems to animate humanity. White and Black. 
In many parts of the country I have passed through the 
African does appear to appreciate his trees, both as shade 
for his ordinary crops and special crops (such as pepper, 
for instance, which you generally find planted under a 
great tree) and cattle. In Kano Province, for instance, 
this is very noticeable. But in other parts he will burn 
down his trees, or rather let them burn down, with absolute 
equanimity, making no effort to protect them (which on 
many occasions he could easily do) when he fires the 
grasses (which, pace many learned persons, it seems to me, 
he is compelled by his agricultural needs to do — I speak 
now of the regions I have seen) . I have noticed quantities 
of splendid and valuable timber ruined in this way. The 
European — I should say some Europeans — appears to 
suffer from the same complaint. It is the fashion — if the 
word be not disrespectful, and Heaven forfend that the 
doctors should be spoken of disrespectfully in this part of 
the world, of all places — among the new school of tropical 

10 




^T.l 




ON THE GREAT WHITE ROAD 

medicine out here to condemn all growing things in a 
wholesale manner. In the eyes of some, trees or plants 
of any kind in the vicinity of a European station are 
ruthlessly condemned. Others are specially incensed 
against low shrubs. Some are even known to pronounce 
the death-warrant of the pine-apple, and I met an official 
at a place, which shall be nameless, who went near weeping 
tears of distress over a fine row of this fruit which he had 
himself planted, and which were threatened, as he put it, 
by the ferocity of the local medical man. In another 
place destruction hangs over a magnificent row of mango 
trees — and for beauty and luxuriousness of foliage the 
mango tree is hard to beat — planted many years ago by 
the Roman Catholic Fathers near one of their mission 
stations ; and in still another, an official, recently returned 
on leave, found to his disgust that a group of trees he 
especially valued had been cut down during his absence by 
a zealous reformer of the medical world. 

In the southern portions of Southern Nigeria, where 
Sir Walter Egerton is a resolute foe of medical vandalism, 
I am inclined to think that the doctors will find it about 
as easy to cope with plant growth as King Canute is 
reputed to have found the waves of the seashore. But in 
Northern Nigeria and in the northern regions of Southern 
Nigeria it is a different matter, and one is tempted to 
query whether the sacrifice of all umbrageous plants in 
the neighbourhood of official and other residences because 
they are supposed to harbour — and no doubt do harbour — 
the larvcB of all sorts of objectionable winged insects, may 
not constitute a remedy worse even than the disease. I 
can imagine few things more distressing for a European in 
Northern Nigeria, gasping in the mid-day heat of the 
harmattan season, to have nothing between his eyes, 
as he gazes out beyond his verandah, but the glare of 
the red laterite soil and the parched-up grasses and little 
pink flowers springing up amidst it ; and one feels disposed 

II 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

to say to the devoted medicos, " De grace, Messieurs, pas 
de trop zele." 

In the particular part of the country of which I am 
now writing, another aspect of the case strikes you. In 
very many rest-camps, and mining camps one comes 
across, the ground is cleared of every particle of shade- 
giving tree — cleared as fiat as a billiard table. There is no 
shade for man or beast. Now a grass-house is not the 
coolest place in the world with an African noon-day sun 
beating down upon it — I mean an all-grass-house, not the 
cool native house with clay walls and thatched roof, be it 
noted — and . . . well, I content myself with the remark 
that it would be much cooler than it is with the shade of a 
tree falling athwart it. Then they — the Public Works 
Department — have built a road from Riga-Chikum to 
Narraguta. I will say nothing about it except that it is, 
without exception, the hottest road and the one more 
abounding in flies that I have struck in this part of the 
world. And I assign a proper proportion of both pheno- 
mena to the — to me — ^inexplicable mania of the builders 
thereof to hew down the trees on the side of the road. 

To come back to our Great White Road. What a 
history it might not tell ! For how many centuries have 
not Black and Brown men pursued upon it the goal of 
their trade and their ambitions ; have not fled in frantic 
terror from the pursuer, ankle deep in dust. What 
tragedies have not been hurried along its dusty whiteness. 
To-day you will meet upon it objects of interest almost 
every hour. Now, a herd of oxen on their way to doom, 
to feed the Southern Nigerian markets ; now, a convoy of 
donkeys going south, in charge, maybe, of Tuareg slaves 
from far-distant Sokoto, or the Asben oases. These will 
be loaded with potash and tobacco. And even as you 
pass this one going south, another convoy of donkeys, 
going north, loaded with salt and kolas, will be trudging 
along behind you. Anon, some picturesquely-clothed and 

12 



ON THE GREAT WHITE ROAD 

turbaned horseman will be seen approaching, who, with 
ceremonious politeness, will either dismount and salute, 
or throw up his right hand — doing the " jaffi," as it is 
termed. 

The African is credited with utter callousness to 
human suffering. Like most generalities concerning him, 
it is exaggerated. Life in primitive communities (and 
to get a proper mental grasp of this country, and its people, 
you must turn up your Old Testament and read Exodus 
and Leviticus) is much cheaper and of less account than 
in more highly civilized ones. That is a commonplace 
too often forgotten by people who accuse the African of 
ingrained callousness. As a matter of fact, I have noticed 
many sights on the Great White Road which show* how 
rash such generalities can be. I have seen water handed 
from one party to another under circumstances which 
spoke of kindly appreciation of a want. I have frequently 
seen fathers, or elder brothers, carrying small children on 
their backs. The Residents have known cases of men 
found injured on the road who have been tended and taken 
home by utter strangers ; the Good Samaritan over again, 
and in his old-world setting. 



13 



CHAPTER III 

ON THE CARRIER 

" Some Africans I have met " — the words conjure up a 
series of powerful chiefs, or fantastic " witch doctors," or 
faultlessly-attired barristers from some centre of light and 
learning on the Coast. I shall be content — ^if only by 
recording my gratitude for much amusement and no little 
instruction — with jotting down a brief line or two which 
shall be wholly concerned with a type of African to whom 
not the greatest Negrophile that ever lived would dream 
of applying the epithet distinguished. I refer to the 
carrier. 

To-morrow I part with my carriers. We have trekked 
together for exactly four weeks — one little man, indeed, 
with a goatee beard and a comical grin, has been with me 
six weeks, having rejoined from my original lot. And at 
the end of four weeks one gets to know something of one's 
carriers. Presumably, by that time they have their own 
opinions of you. 

Whence do they come, and whither do they go, these 
vagrants of the road, flotsam and jetsam that we create ? 
Runaway slaves, ne'er-do-weels, criminals, driven from 
their respective folds, unsuccessful farmers, or restless 
spirits animated by a love of travel and adventure — la 
vie des grands chemins. Reckless, improvident, gamblers, 
wastrels ; they are altogether delightful people. As an 
ecclesiastical friend invariably winds up with a description 
of the man (or woman) he is interested in, who has broken 
most of the commandments, and would have broken the 

14 



ON THE CARRIER 

others had circumstances allowed : . " X is the very 

best of creatures really, and I love him (or her) " — so it is 
impossible not to like the carrier. For with all his faults, 
he attracts. His spirit of independence appeals somehow. 
Here to-day, gone to-morrow. And, like the sailor, with 
a sweetheart at every port, somebody else's sweetheart 
will do quite as well at a pinch. Then consider his cheeri- 
ness. Be the load heavy or light, be the march long or 
short, he has always a smile and a salute for you as you 
pass along the line. I speak as I have found, and many 
men will bear me out. Some men may have a different 
tale to tell, sometimes with justification, sometimes, I 
think, without. For if there is the bad type of carrier — 
and there is : I have found two in my crowd, but their 
" little games " have fallen foul of the views of the majority 
— there is also the type of European who, shall we say, 
forgets. He gets into camp a long way ahead of his men, 
tired and hungry maybe, and curses them for a pack of 
lazy scoundrels. He forgets, or long custom has blunted 
perception, the potency of that sixty-pound load. Think 
of it ! Sixty pounds — the regulation load. Sixty pounds 
on your head for anything from fifteen to thirty miles. 

I say consider that under these conditions the man is 
cheerful. Nay, he is more. He is full of quips and jokes 
... at the expense of his companions, and quite as much 
at the expense of himself. If you have a special peculi- 
arity about you, ten to one he crystallises it into a name, 
and henceforth you are spoken of not as the " Baturi" 
the White man, but as " the man with a back like a 
camel," or " white hair," or the " hump-backed man of 
war," or " red pepper," or " hot water," or as the " man 
with a face like a woman," and so on. It is this extra- 
ordinary cheeriness which appeals to the average white 
human. That a creature of flesh and blood hke yourself, 
carrying sixty pounds on his head for hours and hours in 
the blazing sun, dripping with perspiration, pestered by 

15 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

flies, and earning sixpence a day — threepence of which is 
supposed to be spent in " chop " — and doing this not for 
one day, but for day after day, sometimes for over a week 
without a sit-down, can remain cheerful — that is the 
incredible thing. One hopes that it is a lesson. Assuredly 
it ought to be an inspiration. These votaries of Mark 
Tapley are severely tried at times. Yesterday, after a 
tramp from six-thirty to half-past twelve, the camp aimed 
for was found to be tenanted by other white men and their 
carriers. There was nothing for it but to push on another 
eleven miles to the nearest village and stream. Just as 
dusk began to sweep down upon the land, the first carrier 
straggled in — smiling. " No. i," a long-limbed man with 
the stride of an ostrich, who always goes by that name 
because he is always the first to arrive, delighted at having 
kept up his reputation ; " Nos. 2 " and " 3 " equally 
pleased with themselves for being close at his heels, and 
coming in for their share of the prize money in consequence. 
And then, in twos and threes, dribbling up, some un- 
utterably weary, others less so, all galvanised into new 
life by a chance joke, generally at their own expense ; 
joining in the acclamation which invariably greets the 
strong man of the party — the mighty Maiduguli, to wit — 
who, because of his muscles, carries the heaviest load, and 
whom Fate decrees, owing to that load's contents, shall 
be the last to start, both at the opening of the day and 
after the breakfast halt, but who manages to forge ahead, 
and to turn up among the first six, chaffing the tired ones 
on their way, and stimulating them to fresh exertions. 
And when all had reached their destination they had to 
stick up a tent by the light of the moon. 

I have asked you to consider the carrier's cheeriness 
and powers of endurance — and my lot at least are not, 
with the exception of the mighty man of valour already 
mentioned, big men physically. I ask you now to consider 
his honesty — ^honesty in the Uteral sense and honesty in 

16 



ON THE CARRIER 

the fulfilment of a bargain. For hours this man is alone 
— so far as you are concerned — ^with your goods. You 
may, you probably are, either miles ahead of him, or miles 
behind him. The headman—" Helleman," as he is 
termed by the rank and file — ^is at the rear of the column. 
Between the first man and the " Helleman " several miles 
may intervene, and so on, proportionately. During these 
hours of total lack of supervision, your property is abso- 
lutely at the carrier's mercy. Your effects. The uniform 
case in which, he knows, you keep your money. The 
uniform case, of which he knows the lock is broken. The 
" chop-box," of which he knows the padlock is missing. 
But at the end of every day your things are intact. I 
have not lost a matchbox, except a few dozen or so that 
white men have stolen (I may say it is the local fashion — 
I have caught it myself, and steal matches regularly when- 
ever I get the chance). The only thing I have lost is 
something I lost myself. You may say " Yes, but think 
of the risk and the difficulty of breaking open a uniform 
case on the road." As for the difiiculty, there is little or 
none. A vigorous fling upon one of these granitic boulders, 
and there would be precious little left of your uniform case. 
As for the risk, well, in many parts of the country I have 
traversed, a carrier could get clear away with his loot, and 
not all the Sarikuna and dogari in the country would set 
hands on him. Faithfulness to the bargain struck. Well, 
I have passed through the mining country. Some of the 
mines declare they are short of labour — those that do not 
suffer from that complaint declare that those that do have 
themselves to thank for it — and the mines pay ninepence 
a day for work which is much lighter than that of a carrier, 
who gets sixpence. The few shillings a carrier would 
sacrifice by deserting, he would recoup at the mines in ten 
days, or less. I have not had a desertion. The only man 
of the crowd who has absconded, did so openly. On a 
certain spot on the line of march he suddenly got a fit of 

17 c 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

fanaticism, or something unhealthy of that kind, and de- 
clared himself to be proof against sword cuts. Whereupon, 
being laughed at, he " gat unto himself " a sword and 
smote himself with much vigour upon the head, with the 
natural result of inflicting a deep scalp wound nearly 
seven inches long. The next morning, finding his load 
incommoded him in consequence, he returned homewards, 
a sadder, and, presumably, a wiser man. 

If I were a poet I would write an ode to the African 
carrier. I cannot do justice to him in prose. But I place 
on record this inadequate tribute to the reckless, cheery, 
loyal rascal, who seems to me a mixture of the knight of 
the road and the poacher — for both of whom I have ever 
conceived a warm affection ... in books — and with 
whom I shall part to-morrow with regret, remembering 
oft in days to come that cheery " Sanu zakl " as I passed 
him, footsore, weary and perspiring, on the road. 



i8 



CHAPTER IV 

ON AFRICAN MODESTY AND AFRICAN COURTESY 

Each twenty-four hours brings its own series of events 
and its own train of thoughts following upon them, A 
new incident, it may be of the most trivial kind, sets the 
mind working like an alarum ; a petty act, a passing 
word, have in them revealing depths of character. Nature 
seems such an open book here. She does not hide her 
secrets. She displays them ; which means that she has 
none ; and, in consequence, that she is as she was meant 
to be, moral. The trappings of hide-bound convention 
do not trammel her every stride like the hobble skirts of 
the foolish women who parade their shapes along the 
fashionable thoroughfares of London. What quagmires 
of error we sink into when we weigh out our ideas of 
morality to the African standard — such a very low one 
it is said. 

Well, I have covered a good deal of ground in this 
country — although I have not been in it very long, 
measured in time — and I have seen many thousands of 
human beings. I have seen the Hausa woman and the 
bush Fulani woman in their classical robes. I have seen 
the Yoruba woman bathing in the Ogun, clad only in the 
natural clothing of her own dusky skin. I have seen 
the scantily-attired Gwarri and Ibo woman, and the 
woman of the Bauchi highlands with her bunch of broad 
green leaves " behind and before," and nothing else, 
save a bundle of wood or load of sorts on her head, or a 
hoe in her hand. I have visited many African homes, 

19 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

sometimes announced, sometimes not, at all hours of 
the day, and sometimes of the night. I have passed 
the people on the beaten track, and sought and found 
them off the beaten track. I have yet to see outside 
our cantonments — where the wastrels drift — a single 
immodest gesture on the part of man or woman. 
Humanity which is of Nature is, as Nature herself, moral. 
There is no immodesty in nakedness which " knows 
not that it is naked." The Kukuruku girl, whose only 
garment is a single string of beads round neck and waist, 
is more modest than your Bond Street dame clad in the 
prevailing fashion, suggesting nakedness. Break up the 
family life of Africa, undermine the home, weaken social 
ties> subvert African authority over Africans, and you dig 
the grave of African morality. It is easy, nothing is easier, 
and it may be accomplished with the best intentions, the 
worthiest motives, the most abysmal ignorance of doing 
harm. Preserve these things, strengthen them, and you 
safeguard the decencies and refinements of African life. 

Here is a homily ! Its origin one of those trivialities 
of which I have spoken. One had pushed on ahead, 
desiring to be alone. With that curious intuition which 
the African seems to possess, one's mounted escort had, 
somehow, gathered that, and a good half-mile separated 
one from one's followers. The sun was at its zenith, 
and danced over the dusky track. But there were broad 
grateful trees on either side, and low bushes with white 
sweet-scented flowers. A bend in the road brought into 
view a little cameo of natural life. By a tree, straight- 
backed and grave-faced, an elderly Fulani woman, 
supporting on her lap the head and shoulders of a younger 
woman, who lay outstretched. At her feet a small child 
trying to stand upright, with but indifferent success. 
For a moment one was not perceived, both women's 
eyes being fixed on the infant's resolute eferts, and one's 
approach being quietened by the deadening dust under 

20 



AFRICAN MODESTY AND AFRICAN COURTESY 

foot. For a moment only. Then all three looked up. 
From her position the younger woman's limbs were more 
uncovered than a Hausa or Fulani woman considers 
compatible with modesty before a stranger, and, with 
a sight of that stranger, the instinctive movement came 
— ^the position was slightly shifted, the robe drawn down, 
with no fuss or precipitancy, but calmly, with dignity 
and decision. 

We strayed yesterday. Starting off early we struck 
across country, leaving the road, the red-and-green 
dressed gentleman and I ; having arranged to meet the 
rest . . . somewhere. It does not matter where, because, 
as a matter of fact, we didn't. An imposing person the 
aforesaid dogari, with a full black beard and fierce sword. 
It was good to get away from the road, despite its varied 
interests, and for a couple of hours one gave one's self 
wholly up to the charms of the crispness of the morning, 
the timid but sweet song of the birds, the whiffs of scent 
from the mimosa bushes, the glimpse of some homestead 
farm in the distance, the sight of a group of blue-robed 
women with biblical earthenware pitchers on their heads 
issuing from a neatly thatched village, or congregated 
in a circle round one of the wells whose inner rim is lined 
and rendered solid by thick branches to prevent earth 
from falling in and fouling the water. Their laughing 
voices were wafted across the cultivated fields towards 
us, as cheery as the antics of the little brown goats skip- 
ping over the ground. What a world of simple happiness 
in this agricultural life of the talakawa — the common 
people — of Hausaland. And then, well we were clearly 
at fault. No signs of any of the men. No signs of 
breakfast, I mean of the person by whom breakfast is 
supposed to be produced — and nearly eight o'clock. The 
gentleman in red and green twisted his turbaned and 
bearded visage to right and left. He looked at me ex- 
pressively, which look I returned — with equal gravity, 

21 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the substance of our power of communicativeness. Then 
he turned his broad back and his white horse's head, and 
ambled on, and I followed. It is queer how you accom- 
modate yourself to philosophy, or how philosophy 
accommodates itself to you. After all, every road leads 
to Rome ; and there is a certain amount of exhilaration 
in not knowing what particular Rome it may be, or 
through what twists and turns the track may lead you 
on the way thither. No homesteads now, and the risen 
sun had warmed the birds into silence. One notices that, 
by the way. In the early mornings the timid notes are 
heard, and as the sun's rays pierce through the mists 
and burn them up, they cease. It is a melodious little 
ode to the great Life-giver, and when it has served its 
purpose it quavers, quivers, and is no more. 

On a sudden the thunder of hoofs behind us, and an 
elderly, aristocratic-looking horseman with an aquiline 
nose, short grey beard and piercing eyes, gallops up over 
the deep furrows, followed by three attendants also on 
horseback. An imposing figure of a man he is, splendidly 
mounted on a chestnut stallion, with a heavy cloak of 
dark blue cloth flung across his shoulders, the red crest 
of a fez just showing through the top of his dark blue 
turban. An animated conversation ensues between him 
and the gentleman in red and green. The Chief — for 
one knows he must be such from his bearing and the 
sharp ring of his tones — waves a long, thin hand 
to right and left. The dogan listens respectfully, some- 
what crestfallen in appearance (perhaps he was hungry 
too !). The mounted attendants career away in different 
directions, one, I learn afterwards, to trace the main 
body of carriers, the other to find the cook, the third 
to call for milk and firewood from some neighbouring 
village. Then the Chief bows low over his horse's neck, 
places himself between the dogari and myself, and we pro- 
ceed once more along the narrow pathway, cut at frequent 

22 



AFRICAN MODESTY AND AFRICAN COURTESY 

intervals by small streams, now mostly dry, with pre- 
cipitous banks that need some negotiating. The courtesy 
of that grey-bearded old aristocrat — every inch a ruler 
of men — the Fulani who has become the statesman and 
the lord over many ! He is the Governor, I learn later^ 
of one of the principal districts of Kano province, and 
he looks it from head to foot. At the approach of every 
stream, half hidden with tangled creepers, wherever the 
path is broken or impeded by some natural obstacle, he 
half turns his horse towards one in warning, then waits 
on the other side until he is satisfied that the difficulty is 
overcome. Does the over-hanging branch of some tree 
threaten a blow to the careless rider ? He either breaks 
it off short in its passage, or, if it be too formidable for 
that, points with uplifted finger. And when, at last, in 
an open space a small group under a tree proclaims the 
much perturbed — his usual condition — cook, busy 
boiling milk and cocoa, another low bow, and the old 
gentleman retires at an appropriate distance, turning his 
back with the politeness required of tradition and custom, 
but not before another rapid order has been given, and 
the quite unnecessary attention of clearing a piece of 
ground where you may conveniently partake of your 
meal is in process of accomplishment. 

And soon from out of nowhere come shouts and 
laughter, and the jangle of bits and the confused hum 
of approaching men and horses. The bush and the 
grasses cave outwards and your people appear, a little 
wondering whether the white man is grumpy or not ; 
very pleased to know they have pitched on the right road 
at last ; rather enjoying the adventure and thoroughly 
happy with themselves and the world in general. Off- 
saddle and hobble the beasts ! Down with the loads ! 
Out with the " chop ! " And all as merry as a marriage 
bell. So another morn has dawned and gone, bringing 
with it its lessons and its thoughts. 

23 



CHAPTER V 

ON THE MEANING OF " RELIGIOUS " 

It was dusk, dark almost. The road glimmered dimly 
in the distance. Over the deep furrows the shadows 
■crept, and the little path between them mingled with 
the gathering gloom. 

I became aware of a vague white figure standing out 
from the sombre background some little distance off. 
Presently it seemed to sink downwards and assume 
formlessness. My route back to the camp took me within 
perhaps a dozen yards of it. A nearer view disclosed a 
man, whose bent back was turned to me, making his 
solitary evening prayer to God. Alone. Yet not alone, 
perhaps. 

That night I passed through my sleeping camp at the 
foot of the giant bombax, bathed in the silvery beams of 
a full moon shining out of a velvet sky ; and trod the 
road again, trying to puzzle it out. 

What does the word " religious " mean, I wonder ? 
This white-robed figure of a man was religious as one 
generally interprets the word. Yet we are to suppose 
that he really wasn't, because his religion is not the 
religion we, in Europe, practise. But is that what 
" religious " infers ? One kind of religion ? 

What a queer mixture the Anglo-Saxon is. Pro- 
bably it would be impossible to convince the average 
Englishman that the African is a more religious being 
than himself ; or that there is anything incongruous 
in himself, the Englishman, being at one and the same 

24 



ON THE MEANING OF "RELIGIOUS" 

time the Imperialist ruler of these dark races and their 
spiritual uplifter. And yet, to what vital extent do 
spiritual influences mould the society or the policy of 
Europe ? Has not religion — official religion — ^there taken 
upon itself very largely the character of a social force, 
and lost its spiritual significance ? Is not its whole trend 
social rather than spiritual ? Has Europe, in any racial 
sense, an inner spiritual life, as has the East ? The " law 
of Christ," says the Church, in the matter of relations 
between the sexes everywhere, commands monogamy. 
But the law of Christ commands, in a far more definite 
manner than any words that may be culled from His 
sayings in regard to this, many other things which the 
religion of Europe absolutely, entirely, and wholly ignores, 
because the customs of Europe and the laws of Europe, 
and the social life of Europe do not square with it. 

I was told the other day that a great Emir in these 
parts was informed of the intended visit — this happened 
some years ago — of a great White Mallam who was 
coming to uplift the spiritual life of the people. The 
Emir and his councillors looked over the wide plain. 
" Surely," they said to one another, " as the White man 
is so strong in war, so cunning in invention, so mighty in 
knowledge, then the White man's Mallam must be very, 
very near to Allah." Soon they saw a cloud of dust. 
Marvelling somewhat, the Emir, nevertheless, sent out 
messengers. The messengers sped swiftly onwards. They 
looked for a solitary figure, the figure of an ascetic, bearing 
stamped upon features, lined and worn with thought, 
and in gaunt form, the imprint of hohness ; in whose eye, 
illumined with the fire of inspiration, they would read inti- 
mate communing with God. What they saw was a long 
file of weary carriers, conveying boxes full of food, drink, 
apparel, and camp furniture. Behind them, quite an 
ordinary looking White man on horseback. " Is this 
the great White preacher ? " they asked the interpreter, 

25 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

who headed the caravan. " Is this the Mallam who is 
to uphft our souls ? " " Even so," repUed the inter- 
preter. So two of the Emir's messengers off-saddled, 
and when the preacher came along they bowed low, as is 
the custom of the country. But the third messenger had 
turned back. He prostrated himself before the Emir, 
and he told what he had seen. 

The Emir drew his flowing cloak a little closer round 
him, for the sun was about to set, and the air grew chill. 
Then he turned himself towards Mecca, and lowered his 
forehead in the dust, followed by his councillors. 

It is difficult to write plainly of Christian missionary 
effort in West Africa. The individual missionary may 
be an influence for good in the best sense. He may not 
be. He does not go into the country to make money. 
He is, as a rule, singularly selfless. His life is often, 
perhaps generally, a work of essential self-sacrifice. In 
the category of human motives gravitating towards West 
Africa, his, it must be conceded, takes front rank. Than 
the apostolic missionary there is no grander figure, 
whether in West Africa or elsewhere. But it is the 
genesis of the effort, not the man, that most counts 
fundamentally. If the effort itself is out of perspective 
the work of the individual must feel the effect. I say 
it is difficult to write about missionary effort. It seems 
to be regarded as taboo. You must not touch it lest 
you hurt people's feelings. But nowadays, one sphere 
of human activity cannot be ruled out of discussion. 
Christian effort out here seems to me to have forgotten 
in many cases that Christ was the servant of the people, 
not their master. It is intolerant of native customs; 
native religions irritate it ; native law it regards with 
contempt. I walked one evening along the Niger banks 
with a missionary. We passed some native huts. In 
one was a fetish with a votive offering at its feet. My 
companion jerked his stick disdainfully towards the 

26 



ON THE MEANING OF "RELIGIOUS" 

object, and with scorn in his voice declaimed against 
the " idol." Yet he knew, or ought to have known! that 
it was not the thing of wood that was worshipped, but 
its indwelling spirit. That gesture was so characteristic 
of much one sees and hears out here. I exclude the 
Roman Cathohcs from that remark. Amongst them 
I have met the broad, tolerant spirit of generosity and 
true kindliness of heart. I can hear now the cheery, 
warm-hearted, jovial laughter of the Onitsha priests, their 
sunniness, their infecting optimism. 

There is so much that is dark and dismal about this 
missionary effort, inwardly I mean. All the African 
world is black to it, black with sin, black with lust, black 
with cruelty. And there is its besetting misfortune — 
it is alien. It preaches an alien God ; a White God, 
not a Black God. The God that is imported here has 
nothing African about Him. How can He appeal to 
Africa ? 

I saw a week ago in an English paper (about two 
months old) that there is to be a crusade against Islam 
in Nigeria. Emissaries are to come out and check this 
poisonous growth. That, too, is very strange to read . . . 
out here, as one listens to the call to God in the evening, 
and in the morning, pealing out to the stars. These 
people are worshipping the God of Africa. It seems they 
ought to worship the God of Europe ; and yet there is 
more evidence of spiritual influence out here, than in our 
great congested cities. With the cry of the African 
priest, the faithful bows his body to the earth — out here. 
The day before I left England, I heard the bells ringing 
out in an old cathedral city. Their note was both beau- 
tiful and sad. It was a spacious building, arched and 
vaulted, noble in proportions. It might easily have held 
seven hundred worshippers. There were many people 
in the streets. Yet, when the bells had ceased to ring, 
there were less than a dozen worshippers within. 

27 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

Yes, it is a great puzzle. 

All is silent in the camp. The fires have gone out. 
Over the thatched roofs the bombax towers upwards to 
the majestic heavens. The whole countryside is flooded 
with a soft, dehcate effulgence, and the Great White 
Road appears as a broad ribbon of intenser light, winding 
away, away into the infinite beyond. 

It is eleven o'clock. One wonders if London is looking 
quite so spiritual just now, with its flaming lights, its 
emptying theatres, its streets thronged with jostling, 
restless crowds. 



28 



CHAPTER VI 

A RAGOUT OF THINGS SEEN AND FELT 

Some things detach themselves, as it were, from the 
general background, rooting themselves in memory. 
Such, the rise in the road beyond which the first of the 
great Mohammedan towns of the north lay concealed. 
Bida, the capital of the Nupes, the centre of an 
active trade, known for its handsomely embossed, if 
unsubstantial, brassware ; known, too, for its rough 
glass bangles of black or dull blue, made out of nothing 
more romantic than old bottles melted in native 
furnaces kept going by the blowers who, when the 
stuff is sufficiently liquid, twirl it round a stick 
until the desired shape is attained ; known, too, for its 
special species of ~ kola — ^the lahozhi, highly esteemed 
throughout Nigeria, requiring shade and a rich, deep 
loamy soil to bring, it to perfection. Until the British 
occupation the cultivation and sale of the lahozhi kola 
were the prerogative of the ruler, the Emir, who must 
now be content with a tenth of the crop, and let his 
subjects have a chance. Past a Fulani cattle encamp- 
ment ; past flat country covered with rice fields ; past 
rustling fields of guinea corn ready for the cutter, with 
heads towering eleven feet in height ; past clumps and 
dotted specimens of shea butter trees, in the branches of 
many of which are fixed calabashes for the bees ; past the 
weird red clay monuments of the white ants dotting the 
plain ; along the rough pitted, red dusty road, and so on 
until the rise. And then, between us and the rambling 

29 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

city, with its decaying walls, its wide central avenue, 
and its umbrageous trees, its masses of blue robed men 
and women with their henna-dyed teeth and picturesque 
head-dress, a cloud of dust, and borne down the wind 
blowing towards us the blare of trumpets and the rattle 
of drums. 

The great Mamodu himself, once a notorious slave 
raider and the perpetrator of innumerable infamies, has 
elected to ride out and meet us. Surrounded by two 
or three dozen notables and officers of his household, by 
a scarlet and green robed bodyguard, by four mounted 
drummers and two mounted trumpeters ; ambling gently 
beneath a large umbrella of many colours held over his 
head by an attendant, and clad from head to foot in 
green-grey robes, with a turban of the same colour, 
Mamodu's tall, powerful figure and olive complexion — 
a Nupe with Fulani blood — emerges from the crowd. 
Trumpets — ^long thin trumpets blown lustily and not 
inharmoniously — ^blare, drums beat, horses curvet and 
try to bite one another's necks. Mamodu and his escort 
dismount and do their gaisua (salutation). We dismount 
also, advance, shake hands, and become the target for 
a hundred pairs of dark pupils in bloodshot, whitish- 
yellow balls, which glare at us over the lower part of dark 
blue turbans swathed across chin and mouth and nose, 
while the introduction formally proceeds to the accom- 
paniment of many a guttural "Ah! Um, Um, Um ! " 
At a word from the stalwart gentleman in grey we could 
be cut down in a couple of minutes with these long, 
fierce, leather-sheathed swords which hang at every hip. 
In point of fact, we are a great deal safer on this African 
road than we should be crossing Trafalgar Square. Pre- 
sently we shall see the process, here conducted by one 
Englishman — trusted, and even liked for his own sake, by 
the people — aided by an assistant, of turning ci-devant 
slavers and warriors into administrators. In his work 

30 




DUG-OUT ON THE KADI_!NA MANNED 1;V NLIPES. 




'SILHOUETTING i-'EKCUANCE A OkOUl" OF TAEMS. 



Sec p. 4. 



A RAGOUT OF THINGS SEEN AND FELT 

this Englishman relies for the pomp and panoply of power 
upon three policemen, one of whom is old and decrepit. 
The Bida division covers 5,000 square miles, and Bida 
itself counts 35,000 souls. The facts suggest a thought 
or two. 

A long, broad stretch of golden sands. Winding 
through them the clear green water of the reduced 
Kaduna. Several dug-outs, manned by Nupes, magni- 
ficent specimens of muscular development, cross back- 
wards and forwards with men, women, and children con- 
veying wares to market. Small mites, naked and tubby, 
splash and rollick about on the water's edge. Lower 
down stream fishermen are getting out their nets, and, 
at a shallow ford, shepherds are piloting a flock of sheep 
across, from whose scattered ranks a chorus of loud 
bleating arises. A file of pack donkeys stream across 
the sands to the village on the opposite bank. We watch 
the sight from the foot of a great tree, from which hang 
sundry charms, and as we sit there — it is a rendezvous, 
it seems, and a small market-place in its way — several 
young women stroll towards us bearing wares in grass 
platters which they spread close to us on the ground, 
conversing in low tones broken now and again by the 
jolly African laughter — the mirth of the child of nature 
with few cares and fewer responsibilities. The winding 
river, the golden sands, the blue sky, the two villages — 
one on either side of the crossing — with their conical 
thatched roofs, the green of the trees and of the water, 
the peaceful, quiet human life, combine to make as pretty 
and as harmonious a picture as you would wish to see. 

Tramp, tramp, tramp ! The stamping of innumer- 
able feet. The murmur of innumerable voices. The 
waving of arms, the jangle of iron anklets, and the rising 
cloud of dust beneath the trampling of bare toes. The 

31 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

dancers range themselves in a wide circle, which slowly 
revolves in the light of the moon, now lighting up this 
part, anon the other part, giving a grey and ghostly look 
to the naked shoulders and close-cropped heads. Aah ! 
A ah ! Aah ! The chant rises and falls, monotonous, 
barbaric. Bracelets and anklets, amulets and charms 
clash and clang again as the wearers thereof bend this 
way and that, crouching, stooping, flinging the upper 
part of their bodies backwards, raising high the knee 
and bringing down the leg with thunderous stamp, 
shaking themselves from head to foot like a dog emerging 
from his bath. Naked bodies, but for a strip of jagged 
leather falling athwart the hips ; naked, lithe bodies on 
which the moon sheds her beams. Aah ! Aah ! Aah ! 

And with it the sound of the drum, the everlasting 
drum ; stimulus to labour, spirit of the dance, dirge at 
the death-bed, call to the feast, frenzy-lasher at the 
religious ceremonial, medium of converse, warner of peril, 
bearer of news, telephone and telegraph in one. Go 
where you will, you cannot escape the drum — where 
human life is. The everlasting drum which heralds the 
setting sun, which ushers in the morn, which troubles 
your sleep and haunts your dreams. Borne across the 
silent waters, booming through the sombre forest, rising 
from the murmuring town, cheering on the railway 
cutters — ^the fascinating, tedious, mysterious, maddening, 
attractive, symbolic, inevitable, everlasting African drum. 

I suppose they must be thirsty like every other living 
thing in the glare of the sun and the heat of the sky and 
the dust of the track, for they crowd thick and fast about 
the kurimi, the narrow belt of vegetation (a blessed sight 
in the " dries ") where the stream cuts the road. Pieridce 
with white and yellow wings ; Lycaence shot with amethyst 
and azure ; Theklas, too, or what I take for such, with 
long, fragile, waving extremities, infinitely beautiful. 

32 



A RAGCSUT OF THINGS SEEN AND FELT 

Now and then a black and green Papilio, flashing silver 
from his under wing, harbinger of spring. Or some 
majestic, swift-flying Charaxes with broad and white 
band on a centre of russet brown — not the castor, alas ! 
nor yet the pollux — I have yet to hve to see them afloat 
'neath the African sun. Narrow veins of muddy ooze 
trickle from the well-nigh dried-up bed. And here they 
congregate in swarms, proboscis thrust into the nectar, 
pumping, pumping up the liquid, fluttering and jostling 
one another for preferential places even as you may see 
the moths do on the " treacles" at home. The butterfly 
world is much like the human world after all in its egotism. 
But if you want to see it at its best, plunge into the 
cool forest glades before the sun has attained his maximum 
(when even the butterflies rest) and watch the green and 
gold Euphcedra dodging in and about the broad green 
leaves or tangled creepers. See him spread his glorious 
panoply where that fitful sunbeam has somehow managed 
to pierce the vault. A sight for the dear gods, I tell you — 
is the Euphcedra sunning himself on a Niger forest path. 
Men and politics become as small fry. The right per- 
spective asserts itself. You almost forget the beastly, 
clogging, mentally muddling helmet (how the Almighty 
has blessed the African by granting him a thick skull 
which he can carry on his neck, shaved — shaved, mind 
you (the bliss of it even in thought !), — and as clean as a 
billiard ball at that) as you watch the Euphcedra, and 
absorb the countless other delights the forest contains, 
foremost amongst them silence, silence from humans at 
least. " These are the best days of my life. These are 
my golden days." 

The floods have fallen and a thousand dark forms are 
building up the muddy, slippery banks against the next 
invasion, with saplings rough hewn in the forest ; the 
men chopping and adjusting these defences, the women 

33 D 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

carrying up earth from below in baskets. Beneath, the 
fishermen are making fast their canoes and spreading 
out their nets to dry — all kinds of nets, ordinary cast 
nets, nets resembling gigantic hoops, stiff nets encased 
in wood somewhat after the pattern of the coracle. The 
broad river fades away into the evening haze. For the 
swift wings of night are already felt, and the sun has just 
dropped behind the curtain of implacable forest. 

One by one, in twos and threes, in struggling groups, 
the workers scramble up the slope on to the path — or 
what remains of it from the floods — ^which skirts the village. 
It grows dark. One is vaguely aware of many naked, 
shadowy, mostly silent figures on every side of one ; 
wending their way along the path, or flitting in and out 
among the houses. Eyes flash out of the semi-obscurity 
which is replete with the heavy, dank odour of African 
humanity when African humanity has been busily at 
work. In the open doorways a multitude of little fires 
spring into life, and with them the smell of aromatic wood. 
The evening meal is in preparation, and presently tired 
and naked limbs will stretch themselves to the warmth 
with a sense of comfort. The lament of a child serves 
to remind you how seldom these Niger babies cry. 

And now it is the turn of the fireflies to glow forth. 
Thick as bees, they carpet the ground on every marshy 
spot where the reeds grow — vivid, sentient gems. Patches 
of emeralds : but emeralds endowed with life ; emeralds 
with an ambient flame lighting them from within. They 
hover above the ground like delicate will-o'-the-wisps. 
They float impalpable, illusive, unearthly beautiful in 
the still night air, as some rare and fleeting dream of 
immortality, some incarnation of transcendent joy to- 
wards which dull clay stretches forth arms everlastingly 
impotent. 



34 



CHAPTER VII 

THE SALLAH AT ZARIA 

All Zaria is astir, for this is December, the sacred month, 
the month when the pilgrims to Mecca are offering sacri- 
fices, and to-day the Sallah celebrations begin. At an 
early hour masses of men began to swarm out of the 
great Hausa city, dressed in their best gowns, driving 
before them bullocks, sheep, and goats to be sacrificed 
on the hill — even Kofena, the hill of many legends, the 
old centre of Hausa " rock worship," beyond the city 
walls — to the sound of invocations to Almighty God. 
For days beforehand people have been pouring in from 
the villages in the surrounding plain. Long files of oxen, 
sheep, and goats have been passing through the gates. 
Every household has been busy getting together presents 
for friends, making provision for poor relations, bringing 
forth the finest contents of their wardrobes, preparing 
succulent dishes for entertainment. Every class of the 
population has been filled with eager anticipation, agri- 
culturists and weavers, blacksmiths and tanners, dyers 
and shoemakers. The barbers have- plied an active 
trade, and the butchers likewise. Every face has worn 
a smile, and the hum of human life has been more insis- 
tent than usual. A city of great antiquity this, boasting 
a long line of fifty-eight Hausa kings before the Fulani 
dynasty arose, and thirteen since that event early in last 
century. It rises out of an enormous plain, cultivated 
for many miles around, dotted here and there with 

35 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

fantastic piles of granite, resembling mediaeval castles. 
Its reddish clay walls, crumbling in parts, twenty to 
thirty feet high in others, and many feet in thickness at the 
base, enclose a sea of compounds and tortuous picturesque 
streets, above which wave the fan-palms, the paw-paw, 
the beautiful locust-bean tree, and the graceful tamarind. 
In the plain itself the gigantic Hmi, or cotton tree, is a 
conspicuous landmark, and its rugged staunchness is the 
subject of a legend uncomplimentary to the ladies of 
Zaria : Rimayin Zaria sun fi matan Zaria alkawali, 
meaning that the old rimi trees are more dependable 
than the fickle beauties of the town. 

But the outstanding feature of the day approaches. 
It is ten o'clock, and the procession from Kofena hill is 
winding its way back again to the city. Here the Emir 
will arrive in state after the performance of his religious 
devoirs, and will address his people. Here, in the great 
open square flanking the mosque, the district chiefs and 
notables will charge down upon him in the traditional 
" jafi&," or mounted salute. As we enter the gates of 
the city, after a two miles canter from the Residency 
down a long and dusty road, we find almost deserted 
streets. Every one is congregating in the square. Soon 
we enter into it, to see a vast concourse of people clothed 
in white and blue. They form a living foreground to 
the walls on either side of the Emir's residence, which 
stands at one extremity of the square. Around the 
mosque, on the left, they are as thick as bees, and, 
opposite the mosque, some broken hillocky ground is 
covered with a multitude. At its further extremity the 
square narrows into the road leading through the city 
to Kofena, and towards the opening of this road as it 
debouches into the square all eyes are directed. The 
brilliant sun of tropical Africa smites downwards, giving 
a hard line to lights and shadows, and throwing every- 
thing into bold relief. With the exception of a few 

36 



THE SALLAH AT ZARIA 

denationalised Hausa wives of our own soldiers, the 
crowd is exclusively one of men and youths, for, according 
to custom, the women will not put in an appearance 
until later in the day. We three White men,— the Resi- 
dent, much respected, and wise with the wisdom which 
comes of long years of experience of this fascinating 
country, and with a knowledge of Mohammedan law 
which fills the wisest mallams with astonishment — his 
assistant, and the writer take our stand on the right of 
the Emir's residence. Behind us a few mounted men 
in gallant array, and immediately on our left a charming 
group of the Emir's sons, or some of them, in costly 
robes of satin. One little fellow, eight years old, perhaps, 
with a hght olive complexion, glances rather bored looks 
from under a snow-white turban. Another rather bigger 
boy, clad in dark yellow satin, is an imposing figure. 

A deep " Ah " comes from the throats of the assembled 
thousands as the blare of trumpets resounds faintly in 
the distance, and a cloud of dust rises from the road. 
From out of it there emerge a dozen horsemen charging 
down the square at break-neck speed, their right arms 
raised, their multi-coloured robes flying out behind them. 
With a shout they rein up their steeds in front of the 
Emir's residence, then wheel swiftly, and are off again 
whence they came — the avant-garde of the procession. 
The sound of drums and trumpets gets louder. The head 
of the procession comes in sight, or, to be more accurate, 
the dust solidifies itself into a compact mass, flashing 
and glittering with a thousand shades. First, many 
hundreds walking on foot, who, as they enter the square, 
deploy right and left and mingle with the waiting crowd. 
Behind them more horsemen detach themselves and 
gallop towards us, backwards and forwards. Each man 
is dressed according to his own particular fancy. Some 
in red, some in blue, some in white, some in green, others 
in vivid yellows, but most of them, it would seem, wearing 

37 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

half a dozen different colours at the same time, both as 
to robes and turbans. Their leather boots, thrust into 
shovel-headed stirrups, are embroidered with red and 
green ; their saddle-cloths and bridles are also richly 
embroidered and tasselled. The majority, we observe, 
wear long cross-handled swords in leather scabbards. 
Some carry thin spears in their hands ; one fierce-looking 
warrior a battle-axe. He seems to have stepped out of 
the Middle Ages does this particular chief, his horse 
wearing a metalled protection as in the old days of the 
Crusaders. But the heart of the procession, moving up 
slowly, puts an end to these evolutions, and the horsemen 
range themselves up on either side of the Emir's residence, 
their gallant beasts, curvetting and prancing as the " Ah " 
of the crowd changes into a great roar of sound. As a trial 
of patience I commend the effort to take a photograph 
over the ears of a horse who is making strenuous efforts to 
stand up on its hind legs, while a fine and smarting white 
dust rises in clouds, entering eyes and mouth, and all 
round you are people in a fine frenzy of excitement, 
mingled with apprehension, lest your mount takes it into 
his head to ride amuck in the midst of them, which he has 
every appearance of wishing to do. 

Rattle, rattle, come the drums, mingled with the long- 
drawn-out notes of the tin or silver trumpets. Suddenly 
a loud shout arises, a shout of merriment, as a monstrous 
figure, clad in skins of beasts, and, apparently, hung 
round with bladders, in his hand a long stick, dashes 
out of the advancing throng, clearing the intervening 
space between it and the Emir's residence in a succession 
of frantic bounds. This is the Court fool, and his appear- 
ance is quite in setting with the piece. For this whole 
scene is a scene out of the Arabian Nights, and, really, one 
would hardly be astonished at the appearance of Jins, 
or even of Eblis himself. At last, here is the Emir and 
his immediate bodyguard, and the drummers and the 

38 




THE EMIR OF ZARIA. 




lin, J.IIIR Ul' KAIM.^A. 



Sf-r /■. I.|li 



THE SALLAH AT ZARIA 

trumpeters. The air resounds with prolonged " Ah ! Ah ! 
Ahs." There is a vast tossing of arms, and prancing of 
horses, and ghttering of spears, a cUmax of sound and 
colour — and dust. 

The Emir Aliu is a fine looking man, with a good 
straight nose, intelligent, rather cruel-looking eyes. His 
mouth we cannot see, for the folds of the turban are 
drawn across the lower part of his face. A dark, indigo- 
dyed purple turban and under-cloak ; over it a snow- 
white robe of silk with a tasselled cape which half hides 
the turban — these are the principal coverings to volu- 
minous robes of many tints. His feet are encased in 
beautifully embroidered boots, and his saddle is richly 
ornamented. On the forefinger of his left hand is a heavy 
silver ring. Halting, he turns and faces the multitude. 
His attendants, one on either side, wave the dust away 
from his face with ostrich feather fans. Others, dressed 
in red and green, and carrying long staves, range them- 
selves in front of him and shout his praises in stentorian 
tones. Four figures on foot advance, three of them are 
clad in skins and carry drums. The fourth is a crouching 
creature with a curious wizened face bearing a drawn 
sword in his hand. A sword dance ensues, the four going 
round and round in a circle. The gentleman with a 
sword contorts himself, prods viciously at imaginary 
foes, and every now and then makes a playful attempt to 
smite off one of the drummers' legs. This performance 
being terminated — accompanied the while by incessant 
shouting on the part of every one in general — the 
actors retire, and the Emir holds up his thin aristocratic 
hand. 

Instantly a silence falls. The change is singularly 
impressive. The Emir begins to speak in a low voice to 
a herald mounted on a raised platform at his side. The 
herald, the perspiration pouring down his face, shouts 
out each sentence as it falls from the Emir's lips. As 

39 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the speech proceeds the Emir becomes more animated. 
He waves his arm with a gesture full of dignity and com- 
mand. And now the silence is occasionally broken with 
sounds of approval. Finally he stops, and it is the turn 
of the Resident who smilingly delivers himself of a much 
shorter oration which, as in the previous case, is shouted 
to the assemblage by the herald. I was able to obtain, 
through the courtesy of the Resident, from the Emir's 
Waziri a rendering of the speech of which the following 
is a translation — 

" The Emir greets you all with thanks to God. He thanks God's 
messenger (Mohammed). He gives thanks for the blessings of his 
parents and his ancestors. He gives thanks to the Europeans who 
are the gates of his town. He thanks all White men. Next — you must 
attend to the orders which the Emir gives you every year, I say unto 
you leave off double dealing. Remove your hand from the people. 
Let them follow their own courses. Separate yourselves from in- 
justice. Why do I say ' Give up injustice ' ? You know how we were 
in former days and you see how we are now. Are we not better off 
than formerly ? Next — ^I thank my headmen who assist me in my 
work. I thank my servants who are fellow workers. I thank my 
young chiefs who are fellow workers. I thank the men of my town 
who are fellow workers. I thank my followers in the town. I thank 
the village heads. I thank all the people of the land of Zaria who are 
helping me in my work. Next — I wish you to pay attention to the 
commands of the English. And I say unto you that all who see them 
should pay them respect. He who is careless of the orders of the White 
man does not show them respect. Though nothing happens to him he 
cries on his own account (i.e. his stupidity is his punishment), for it 
is his ignorance that moves him. Next — every one who farms let 
him pay his tax. Every one who says this man is my slave, or this 
woman is my slave, or these people are my slaves, and uses force 
against them, let judgment fall upon him. What I say is this — may 
God reward us ! May God give us peace in our land ! May God give 
us the abundance of the earth ! Amen. Those who feel joyful can 
say — ' This is our desire ! this is our desire ! ' " 

After a vain attempt to shake hands with the Emir, 
our respective mounts altogether declining to assist, we 
ride cat of the town escorted by a couple of hundred 
horsemen. A little way past the gates we halt while 
they, riding forward a hundred yards or so, wheel, and 

40 



THE SALLAH AT ZARIA 

charge down upon us with a shout, reining their horses 
with a sudden jerk, so near to us that the ensanguined 
foam from the cruel bits bespatters us. 

As we ride home to the Residency two miles out of 
the town, uppermost in the mind at least of one of us is 
the fascination of this strange land, with its blending 
of Africa and the East, its barbaric displays, its indus- 
trial life, its wonderful agricultural development — above 
all, perhaps, the tour deforce of governing it with a handful 
of White officials and a handful of native troops. 



41 



MAP OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA SHOWING THE THREE PROVINCES, 




PART II 
SOUTHERN NIGERIA 



CHAPTER I 

Nigeria's claim upon public attention 

Nigeria is a geographical expression applied to a terri- 
tory in West Africa which by successive stages, covering 
a period of more than one hundred years, under cir- 
cumstances widely differing in character and incentive, 
and almost wholly as the result of the initial enterprise 
of British explorers and merchants, has passed under the 
protection of Britain. With the discovery of Nigeria are 
associated exploits which for romantic interest and per- 
sonal achievements hold a prominent place in British 
exploring records. The angry swirl of the Bussa rapids 
must ever recall the well-nigh superhuman achievements 
of Mungo Park, as the marvellous creeks and channels 
of the Niger Delta evoke the memory of Richard Lander * 
and John Beecroft. 

You cannot visit the Court of the Emir of Kano 
without remembering Clapperton's account of the awk- 
ward religious conundrums with which the gallant sailor, 
the first European to enter that fascinating African city, 
was amazed and confounded by one of the present Emir's 
predecessors ; nor ride over the wide and dusty road 
into the heart of Hausaland without thinking that but 
for Joseph Thomson's diplomatic tact in negotiating the 
early treaties with its potentates, which were to pave 

* Lord Scarborough, I am glad to know, is instituting a movement designed 
to put up a monument to Richard Lander and Mungo Park at Forcados, one 
of the mouths of the Niger. The suggestion that a monument should be erected 
to the memory of Richard Lander at the mouth of the Niger was made last 
year in the Times by the writer, who had the honour of reporting to Lord 
Scarborough upon various sites examined in the course of this year, and 
recommending Forcados as the most appropriate. 

45 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the way for the statesmanship of a Taubman-Goldie 
and the organising genius of a Lugard, Nigeria would 
to-day be the brightest jewel in the West African Empire 
of the French. The spirit of MacGregor Laird, the hardy 
pioneer who laid the first foundations of British com- 
merce in this country seems to hover over the broad bosom 
of the Niger. The marvellous panorama that unfolds 
itself before your eyes at Lokoja (the confluence of the 
Niger with its tributary the Benue) conjures up the 
heroism and tragedy of the Allan-Trotter expedition ; 
while to negotiate in a dug-out the currents that eddy 
round the famous ju-ju rock — still termed Baikie's 
Seat — ^is a reminder that somewhere in the blue depths 
below lie the remains of Dr. Baikie's ill-fated Day-spring. 
This land is, indeed, a land rich in heroic memories 
to men of British blood. It is the more astonishing 
that so little appears to be known by the general 
public either of its past or, what is much more impor- 
tant, of the many complex problems connected with its 
administration. 

Nigeria is, at present, arbitrarily divided into two 
units, " Southern " and " Northern;" the division corre- 
sponds with the historical events which have distinguished 
the assumption of British control, and is to that extent 
inevitable. But to-day, with internal communications 
and administrative control rapidly extending, this situa- 
tion presents many drawbacks. In the absence of any 
considered scheme of general constructive policy laid 
down at home, the existence of two separate Governments 
with ideals necessarily influenced by the personal idio- 
syncrasies of frequently changing heads in a territory 
geographically united, through which the channels of a 
singularly intensive internal trade have flowed for cen- 
turies, must of necessity tend to promote divergencies 
in the treatment of public questions, and, therefore, 

46 








''TMl 



SHIPPING PALM-OIL ON THE NIGER AT HIljH WATER. 



Sa- /.. 5-. 



NIGERIA'S CLAIM UPON PUBLIC ATTENTION 

create numerous difficulties for the future. I propose 
to deal with this subject in greater detail later on. 
/'^Meantime it would seem necessary at the outset to 
(emphasize two facts which the public mind does not 
1 appear to have realized. The first is that Nigeria, 
I both in size and in population, is not only the most 
considerable of our tropical dependencies in Africa, 
but is the most considerable and the wealthiest of all 
"our tropical dependencies (India, of course, excepted). 
Embracing an area of 332,960 square miles, Nigeria is 
thus equal in size to the German Empire, Italy and 
Holland, while its population, though not yet ascertained 
with accuracy, can hardly amount to less than fifteen 
millions, being double that of British East Africa and 
Uganda with Nyassaland thrown in, and nearly three 
times as numerous as the native population comprised 
in the South African Union. The second is that no- 
where else in tropical or sub-tropical Africa is the British 
administrator faced, at least on a large scale, with a 
Mohammedan population, already to be counted in 
millions and increasing year by year with significant 
rapidity. Until a few years ago the work of Great 
Britain in West Africa, apart from a few trifling ex- 
ceptions, was confined to the administration of the Pagan 
Negro. The position is very different now. In the 
southern regions of the Protectorate, where its pro- 
gression is a modern phenomenon, Islam is, from the 
administrative point of view, a purely social factor. But 
in the northern regions, where Mohammedan rule has 
been established for centuries, under the Hausas, and in 
more recent times under the Fulani, Islam has brought 
its laws, its taxation, its schools and its learning. It is 
there a political as well as a religious and social force, 
soUdly entrenched. This fact which, administratively 
speaking, need not alarm us — unless the Administration 
is goaded into adopting a hostile attitude towards its 

47 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

Mohammedan subjects — does, however, invest Nigeria 
with an additional interest of its own and does supply a 
further reason why the affairs of this greatest of our 
African protectorates should receive more intelligent 
consideration and study at the hands of the public than 
it has enjoyed hitherto. 



48 



CHAPTER II 

THE NIGER DELTA 

What is now known as Southern Nigeria comprises 77,200 
square miles, and includes the whole seaboard of the 
Nigerian Protectorate, some 450 miles long, and the 
marvellous delta region whos^e network of waterways 
and surpassing wealth in economic products must be 
seen to be realized. Pursuing its southward course, the 
Niger, after its journey of 2,550 miles across the continent 
from west to east, bifurcates just below Abo into the 
Forcados and the Nun. This is the apex of the delta, 
and here the Niger is, indeed, majestic. From each of 
these main channels of discharge spring countless others, 
turning and twisting in fantastic contours until the 
whole country is honeycombed to such an extent as to 
become converted into an interminable series of islands. 
The vastness of the horizon, the maze of interlacing 
streams and creeks, winding away into infinity, the 
sombre-coloured waters, the still more sombre impene- 
trable mangrove forests — here and there relieved by taller 
growth — impress one with a sense of awe. There is 
something mysterious, unfathomable, almost terrifying in 
the boundless prospect, the dead uniformity of colour, 
the silence of it all. It is the primeval world, and man 
seems to have no place therein. 

Small wonder that amidst such natural phenomena, 
where in the tornado season which presages the rains the 
sky is rent with flashes only less terrific than the echoing 

49 E 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

peals of thunder, where the rushing wind hurls forest 
giants to earth and lashes the waters into fury, where 
for months on end torrential downpours fall until man 
has no dry spot upon which he can place his foot ; where 
nature in its most savage mood wages one long relentless 
war with man, racking his body with fevers and with 
ague, now invading his farms with furious spreading 
plant life, now swamping his dwelling-place — small wonder 
the inhabitants of this country have not kept pace with 
the progression of more favoured sections of the human 
race. It is, on the contrary, astonishing, his circum- 
stances being what they are, that the native of the Niger 
delta should have developed as keen a commercial instinct 
as can be met with anywhere on the globe, and that 
through his voluntary labours, inspired by the necessities 
and luxuries of barter, he should be contributing so 
largely to supply the oils, fats, and other tropical pro- 
ducts which Western industrialism requires. Trade with 
the outer world which the merchant — himself working 
under conditions of supreme discomfort, and in constant 
illi-health — ^has brought ; improved means of communi- 
cation through the clearing and mapping of creeks and 
channels, thereby giving accessibility to new markets 
which the Administration is yearly creating — ^these are 
the civilizing agents of the Niger delta, the only media 
whereby its inhabitants can hope to attain to a greater 
degree of ease and a wider outlook. 

The outer fringe of the delta is composed entirely of 
mangrove swamps, whose skeleton-like roots rise up from 
the mud as the tide recedes, and from whose bark the 
natives obtain, by burning, a substitute for salt. F6r 
untold centuries the mangrove would appear to have been 
encroaching upon the sea, the advance guard of more 
substantial vegetation springing up behind it with the 
gradual increase of deposits affording root-depth. Apart 
from the deltaic system proper, produced by the 

50 



THE NIGER DELTA 

bifurcation of the Niger and its subsequent efforts to reach 
the ocean, the seaboard is pierced by several rivers, of 
which the Cross, navigable for stern wheelers of light 
draught in the wet season for 240 miles and in the dry for 
forty, is the most important. The Benin River links up 
with the deltaic system on the east, and on the west 
with the lagoon system of Lagos, into which several 
rivers of no great volume, such as the Ogun and Oshun, 
discharge themselves. So continuous and extensive are 
these interior waterways that communication by canoe, 
and even by light-draught launches, is possible from one 
end of the seaboard to the other — i.e., from Lagos to 
Old Calabar. 

The mangrove region is sparsely populated by fishing 
and trading tribes. It is curious to come across signs of 
human life when you would hardly suspect its possible 
presence. A gap in the whitened, spreading roots, a 
tunnelled passage beyond, a canoe or two at the opening ; 
or, resting upon sticks and carefully roofed, a miniature 
hut open on all sides, in which reposes some votive 
offering, such are the only indications that somewhere 
in the vicinity a village lies hidden. A visit to some 
such village holds much to surprise. Diligent search has 
revealed to the intending settler that the particular spot 
selected contains, it may be a hundred yards or so from 
the water, a patch of firm land where, doubtless with 
much difficulty, a crop of foodstuffs can be raised, and 
here he and his family will lead their primitive existence 
isolated from the outer world, except when they choose 
to enter it on some trading expedition. Further inland 
somewhat, as for instance, near the opening of the Warri 
creek (whose upper reaches, bordered with cocoanut 
palms, oil palms, and ferns, are a dream of beauty), one 
of the many off-shoots of the Forcados, where behind the 
fringe of mangroves the forest has begun to secure a 
steady grip, neatly kept and prosperous villages are more 

51 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

numerous. Their denizens are busy traders and there 
are plentiful signs of surface civilization. An expedition 
in canoes to the chief of one of these Jekri villages led 
us from a little landing stage cut out of the mangroves 
and cleverly timbered along a beaten path through 
smelling mud, alive with tiny crabs and insect life of 
strange and repulsive form, into a clearing scrupulously 
clean, bordered with paw-paw trees and containing some 
twenty well-built huts. A large dug-out was in process 
of completion beneath a shed ; fishing-nets were hanging 
out to dry ; a small ju-ju house with votive offerings 
ornamented the centre of the village green, as one might 
say ; a few goats wandered aimlessly about, and a score 
of naked tubby children gazed open-eyed or clung round 
their mothers' knees in affected panic. Beyond the ju-ju 
house a one-storeyed bungalow with corrugated iron roof 
and verandah unexpectedly reared its ugly proportions, 
and before long we were discussing the much vexed 
question of the liquor traffic over a bottle of ginger ale 
across a table covered by a European cloth, with an in- 
telligent Jekri host, whose glistening muscular body, 
naked to the waist, contrasted oddly with the surroundings. 
These included a coloured print of the late King Edward 
hanging upon the walls in company with sundry illus- 
trated advertisements all rejoicing in gorgeous frames. 
The walls of the vestibule below were similarly adorned, 
and through a half-open door one perceived a ponderous 
wooden bed with mattress, sheets, pillows, and gaudy 
quilt (in such a climate !) complete. 

The deltaic region is the real home of the oil palm 
-with its numerous and still unclassified varieties, although 
it extends some distance beyond in proportionately 
lessening quantities as you push north. No other tree 
in the world can compare with the oil palm in the mani- 
fold benefits it confers upon masses of men. Occurring 
in tens of millions, reproducing itself so freely that the 

52 



THE NIGER DELTA 

natives often find it necessary to thin out the youngest 
trees, it is a source of inexhaustible wealth to the people, 
to the country, to commerce, and to the Administration. 
The collection, preparation, transport, and sale of its 
fruit, both oil and kernels for the export trade is the 
paramount national industry of Southern Nigeria, in 
which men, women, and children play their allotted parts. 
Beautiful to look upon, hoary with antiquity (its sap was 
used in ancient Egypt for cleansing the body before 
embalment), the oil palm is put to endless uses by the 
natives — its leaves and branches as roofing material, for 
clothing, for the manufacture of nets, mats, and baskets ; 
its fruit and covering fibre in various forms for food (not 
disdained by the resident European in the famous palm 
oil chop) , for light, for fuel. To the Southern Nigerian native 
inhabiting the oil-palm area the tree is, indeed, domestically 
indispensable, while its product represents something like 
90 per cent, of his purchasing capacity in trade. How 
entirely wrong would be any attempt at restricting his 
free enjoyment of its bounties needs no emphasizing. 
The importance of the export trade in the products of 
the oil palm may be gauged by the returns for 1910, 
which show that Southern Nigeria exported 172,998 
tons of kernels and 76,850 tons of oil, of a total value of 
no less than ;f 4, 193,049 ; and yet the capacities of the 
trade, especially in kernels, are only in their infancy.* 
Many districts, rich in oil palms are unproductive owing 
to inaccessibility of markets or lack of transport ; in 
others which supply oil, the kernels, for sundry reasons, 
among which insufficiency of labour to spare from farming 
operations no doubt predominates, are not collected, 
although it is commonly reckoned that three tons of 

* The total value of the nett commercial trade of Southern Nigeria amounted 
to ^9,288,cwo in 1910, viz. imports ;^4,320,ooo, exports ;^4,968,ooo. Among the 
imports, cotton goods amounted to^i, 306,812. Ten years ago the total import 
of the latter was only ;^6o5, 146. The whole commercial movement has grown 
enormously in the last few years, the total nett turnover in 1907 amounting 
only to ;^6,974,ooo. 

53 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

kernels should be available for every ton of oil. In con- 
sidering these figures, realizing the future potentialities 
of the trade, and realizing, too, the truly enormous sum 
of African labour which it represents (every nut is cracked 
by hand to extract the kernel), one cannot but reflect 
upon the foolish generalities which ascribe " idleness " 
to the West African negro, whose free labour in this trade 
alone gives employment directly and indirectly to tens 
of thousands in England and in Europe, from the merchant 
and his clerks, from the steamship owner and his employes 
on land and sea, to the manufacturer of soap and candles 
and their allied trades ; from the .coopers who turn out 
the casks sent out from England in staves for the con- 
veyance of the oil, to the Irish peasants who collect the 
stems of the common sedge shipped out to Nigeria from 
Liverpool for caulking these casks. 

The bulk of the oil is exported to England (;^i, 191,000 
value in 1909), but nearty the entire kernel crop goes to 
Germany, where it is treated by the big crushing mills. 
It is possible that this state of affairs may undergo con- 
siderable change within the next decade, and the reason 
for it is, incidentally, of considerable economic interest, 
as it is of moment to Nigeria. Up to within three or four 
years ago palm kernels were crushed and the oil almost 
entirely used by the soap trade, but chemistry has now 
found a process of refining and making palm-kernel oil 
edible, as it may, perhaps, do some day for palm oil itself, 
as a base for margarine, for which coprah and ground- 
nut oil were formerly employed. This has had as a con- 
sequence an enormous widening of the home market, and 
the soap trade has now to contend with keen competition 
for the supply of one of its staples. The resultant effect 
is the initiative of Lever Brothers (Limited), who, 
finding the need of enlarging and giving increased security 
to their supplies of the raw material, are, with commend- 
able enterprise, erecting three large crushing mills in 

54 



THE NIGER DELTA 

Southern Nigeria, the one at Lagos being already in a 
fair way to completion. If the numerous difficulties 
they will have to face are successfully negotiated, the 
ultimate result can hardly fail to be that of transferring 
the considerable palm kernel crushing industry from the 
banks of the Rhine to those of the Niger, besides creating 
a new export trade in oil cake from the Niger to England 
and the Continent. 



55 



CHAPTER III 

THE FOREST BELT 

Beyond the deltaic region proper lies the vast belt of 
primeval and secondary forest of luxurious growth, giant 
trees, tangled vines and creepers, glorious flowering 
bushes, gaudy butterflies, moist atmosphere, and suffoca- 
ting heat. Beyond the forest belt again lies, with re- 
current stretches of forest, the more open hilly country, 
the beginning of the uplands of the North. When an 
authority on forestry recently wrote that "British 
Columbia is the last great forest reserve left," he forgot 
West Africa. That is what West Africa has continu- 
ally suffered from — forgetfulness. The resources of the 
Nigerian forest belt are as yet far from being fully deter- 
mined, but sufficient is now known of them to show that 
they are enormously rich. Besides the oil palm and the 
wine palm (which produces the piassava of commerce) 
the forest belt contains large quantities of valuable 
mahoganies, together with ebony, walnut, satin, rose, 
and pear woods, barwood, and other dye-woods, several 
species of rubber, African oak, gums (copal), kola, and 
numerous trees suitable to the manufacture of wood- 
pulp, ^il-bearing plants abound in great quantities, 
as do also fibres, several of which have been favourably 
reported upon by the Imperial Institute. The shea- 
butter tree, to which I shall have occasion again to refer, 
is an inhabitant of the dry zone. 

The soil of this forest region is wonderfully fertile, 
and forest products apart, the possibilities of agricultural 

56 



THE FOREST BELT 

development are considerable. The three articles under 
cultivation by the natives the Administration has of late 
years done its best to popularize have been c otton , cocoa, 
and^ maize. For several reasons maize is an uncertain 
quantity. The land bears two crops a year, the larger 
crops ripening in July, but a wet August will play havoc 
with harvesting and storing arrangements, while the 
amount available for export must always depend upon 
local food requirements and available labour. The culti- 
vation of cocoa, for which the humid atmosphere, rich 
alluvial soil, and abundant shade of the forest region 
seem peculiarly suitable, has, on the other hand, steadily, 
if slowly, increased since it was started fifteen years ago. 
In 1900 the quantity of cocoa exported was valued at 
£8,622. It had risen in 1910 to £101,151. The efforts 
made within the last few years by the British Cotton 
Growing Association, supplemented by those of the 
Administration, to revive on a large scale the export trade 
in raw cotton started by the Manchester manufacturer, 
Mr. Clegg, at the time of the American Civil War, has so 
far been partially, but only partially, successful. The 
industry has progressed, but far less rapidly than its 
promoters hoped.* Things do not move quickly in West 
Africa. In all these questions several factors have to 
be taken into account, for which sufficient allowance is 
not made in Europe. For one thing, the really immense 
amount of labour' which the Nigerian population is already 
required to put forth in order to feed itself and to sustain 
the existing export trade is not appreciated. 

The idea that the native has merely to scratch the 
earth or watch the fruit ripening on the trees in order to 
sustain himself and his family is, speaking generally, as 
grotesque an illusion as that he is a helpless, plastic 
creature with no will of his own. The native is on the 
whole an active, hard-working individual, the ramifications 

* Vide Part IV. 
57 



/ 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

of whose domestic and social needs involve him in con- 
stant journeyings which absorb much time, and if his 
soil is prolific in the bearing of crops, it is equally so in 
invading vegetation, which has constantly to be checked. 
He is also a keen business man and a born trader, as any 
European merchant who has dealings with him will bear 
witness, and he will turn his attention to producing what 
pays him best. In that respect he differs not at all from 
other sections of the human race amongst whom the 
economic sense has been developed, and he cannot be 
fairly expected to devote his attention to raising one 
particular raw material which a certain home industry 
may desire, if he can make larger profits in another direc- 
tion. The opening up of the country, the increasing 
dearness of food supplies in the neighbourhood of all the 
great centres, the intensifying commercial activity and 
economic pressure so visible on every side, the growth 
of population, and the enlargement of the horizon of 
ideas must necessarily lead to a steady development in 
all branches of production. But the native must be 
given time, and the country is one which cannot be rushed 
either economically or politically. 

No sketch, however brief, of the potentialities of the 
Nigerian forest belt would be complete without a refer- 
ence to the labours of the Forestry Department, which 
owes its initiation to the foresight -and statesmanship of 
the late Sir Ralph Moor. Such reference is the more 
necessary since the work of the department crystallizes, 
so to speak, the conception of its duties towards the 
native population which guides the Administration's 
policy. No other department of the Administration 
reveals so clearly by its whole programme and its daily 
practice what the fundamental object of British policy 
in Nigeria really is, and in view of the increasing assaults 
upon that policy by company promoters at home, on 
the one hand, and the obstacles to which its complete 

58 



THE FOREST BELT 

realization is subjected in Africa on the other, it is abso- 
lutely essential that public opinion in Britain should 
become acquainted with the facts and be ;n a position to 
support the Colonial Of&ce and the Administration in 
combining equity with commonsense. 

Briefly stated, the Forestry Department is designed 
to conserve forest resources for the benefit of the State — 
the State meaning, in practice, the native communities 
owning the land and their descendants, and the Admini- 
stration charged with their guardianship, and while en- 
couraging any legitimate private enterprise, whether 
European or native, to oppose the wholesale exploitation 
of those resources for the benefit of individuals, white or 
black. It aims at impressing the native with the economic 
value of his forests as a source of present and continual 
revenue for himself and his children ; at inducing native 
coromunities to give the force of native law to its regu- 
lations and by their assistance in applying them, to pre- 
vent destruction through indiscriminate farming opera- 
tions and bush fires, to prevent the felling of immature 
trees, to replant and to start communal plantations. It 
aims at the setting aside, with the consent of the native 
owners, of Government reserves and native reserves, and 
at furthering industrial development by private enter- 
prise under conditions which shall not interfere with the 
general welfare of the country. In a word, the Forestry 
Department seeks to associate the native communities 
with the expanding values of the land in which they dwell, 
so that for them the future will mean increasing prosperity 
and wealth, the essence of the policy being that these 
communities are not only by law and equity entitled to 
such treatment, but that any other would be unworthy 
of British traditions. It is what some persons call maudlin 
sentiment, the sort of " maudlin sentiment " which 
stands in the way of the Nigerian native being expro- 
priated and reduced to the position of a hired labourer 

59 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

on the properties of concessionnaires under whose patriotic 
activities the Nigerian forest would be exploited until 
it had disappeared from the face of the earth like the 
forests of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Eastern 
Canada. 

Apart from the question of safeguarding the rights of 
the people of the land, our wards, the necessity of forest 
conservation in the interest of the public weal has been 
taught by bitter experience, and experience has also 
shown that scientific forestry can only be profitably 
undertaken by the Government or by bodies whose first 
obligation is the interest and protection of the com- 
munity. The Forestry Department of Southern Nigeria, 
short as its existence has been, is already a revenue- 
making Department, for in the last ten years it has either 
planted, or induced the natives to plant, trees (some of 
which, like the rubber trees in Benin, are now beginning 
to bear) whose present estimated value is £287,526, and 
has thus added over a quarter of a million to the value 
of the capital stock of the forests without taking into 
account the indirect effects of the steps taken to help 
their natural regeneration. The Department has many 
local difficulties to contend with, especially in the Western 
province, which I shall have occasion to discuss in con- 
nection with the general administrative problem facing 
the administration in that section of the Protectorate. 

The character of its work necessitates that, in addi- 
tion to scientific training in forest lore, those responsible 
for its direction shall be possessed of knowledge of native 
customs and of considerable tact in conducting negotia- 
tions with native authorities, always suspicious of Euro- 
pean interference in anything which touches the question 
of tenure and use of land. The Administration is for- 
tunate in possessing in the Conservator and Deputy- 
Conservator two men who combine in a rare degree these 
dual qualifications. It is but the barest statement of 

60 



THE FOREST BELT 

fact to say that Mr. H. N. Thompson, the Conservator 
who went to Southern Nigeria after many years in Burma, 
enjoys an international reputation. As an expert in 
tropical forestry he stands second to none in the world. 
His colleague, Mr. R. E. Dennett, has contributed more 
than any other European living to our knowledge of 
Nigerian folklore, and he understands the native mind 
as few men of his generation do. In view of its immense 
importance to the future of the country it is very re- 
grettable to have to state that the Forestry Department 
is greatly undermanned and its labours curtailed in 
many directions by the insufficiency of the funds at its 
disposal. No wiser course could be taken by the admini- 
stration than that of setting aside a sum of borrowed 
money to be used, as in the case of the railways, as 
capital expenditure on productive forestry work. 



6i 



CHAPTER IV 

THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PROVINCES 

In connection with the internal government of the Pro- 
tectorate it may be advisable to refer briefly to the House 
Rule Ordinance of igoi which has recently given rise 
to some controversy. The House Rule Ordinance is a 
measure designed by the late Sir Ralph Moor to prevent 
social ana chy from ensuing when slavery was abolished 
by the British Government. It gives force of Law to 
House Rule. House Rule is, in reality, the native form 
of government, which has existed in Southern Nigeria 
for many centuries. In recognizing the former the 
Administration acknowledges the existence of the latter 
for which it can provide no substitute. Native society, 
as already stated, is in the patriarchal state. The foun- 
dation of it ij the " Father," whether of the family, of 
the community, or of the tribe. The members of the 
House are, in a measure, apprentices. Under native 
law there are obligations on both sides. It is a transi- 
tional stage, and should be regarded as such, and allowed 
to reform itself from within. The one difficulty, in this 
respect, is lest the Ordinance should tend to prevent a 
gradual internal evolution towards a higher state by 
sterilizing any healthy influences making for modification. 
A much greater danger would be any sudden change 
which would throw the whole country into absolute 
confusion. In the Western Province and in the Bini 
district, where native rule has developed more rapidly 
than in the Eastern and Central, the Father of the House 

62 



THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PROVINCES 

is subject to the Father of the district, and he in turn 
is subject to the Paramount Chief of the whole tribe — 
the Supreme Father. There is, therefore, a check upon 
despotic abuses by the head of the House. In the bulk 
of the Central Province and in the whole of the Eastern 
Province, the head of the House is virtually the head of 
the community, the higher forms of internal control not 
having evolved. Any hasty and violent interference 
which domestic " slavery," as it is termed, in a country 
like the Central and Eastern Provinces should be strenu- 
ously opposed. It would be an act of monstrous in- 
justice, in the first place, if unaccompanied by monetary 
compensation, and it would produce social chaos. But 
there seems to be no reason why the House Rule 
Ordinance should not be amended in the^ senssu of sub- 
stituting for Paramount Chieftainship therein — which is 
virtually non-existent — ^the District Commissioners, aided 
by the Native Councils, as a check upon the now un- 
fettered action of the heads of Houses. To destroy the 
authority of the heads would be to create an army of wastrels 
and ne'er-do-weels. Native society would fall to pieces, 
and endless "punitive expeditions" would hg'the result.* 
For purposes of administration Southesn Nigeria is 
divided into three Provinces, the Eastern (29,056 square 
miles), with headquarters at Old Calabar ; the Central 
(20,564 square miles) with headquarters at Warri ; and 
the Western (27,644 square miles), with headquarters at 
Lagos, the seat of Government of the Protectorate. To 
the Western Province is attached, as distinct from the 
Protectorate, what is termed the " Colony of Lagos," 
comprising the capital and a small area on the mainland 
— Lagos itself is an island — amounting altogether to 
3,420 square miles. The supreme government of the 
three Provinces is carried on from Lagos by the Governor, 

* In this connection Mr. Dennett's paper in the September issue of the 
journal of the Colonial Institute is very valuable. 

63 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

assisted by an Executive Council and by a Legislative 
Council composed of nine officials and six unofficial 
members selected by the Governor and approved by the 
Secretary of State. Each Province is in charge of a 
Provincial Commissioner, although in the Western Pro- 
vince his duties are more nominal than real. In none of 
the Provinces is there a Provincial Council. The Central 
and Eastern Provinces are sub-divided into districts in 
charge of a District Commissioner and Assistant Com- 
missioner, who govern the country through the recog- 
nized Chiefs and their councillors by the medium of 
Native Councils which meet periodically and over which 
the District Commissioner or his assistant presides. 
These Native Councils or Courts constitute the real ad- 
ministrative machinery of the country. They administer 
native law in civil and criminal cases between natives. 
They may not, however, except by special provision, 
deal with civil cases in which more than £200 is involved, 
or with criminal cases of a nature which, under native 
law, would involve a fine exceeding £100 or a sentence 
of imprisonment exceeding ten years with or without 
hard labour, or a flogging exceeding fifteen strokes. 
Appeal from the Native Courts to the Supreme Court 
can be made through the District Commissioners, who 
have the powers of a Judge of the Supreme Court with 
powers of jurisdiction limited by law. The District 
Commissioner's Court is virtually a branch of the Supreme 
Court, and deals almost entirely with cases in which non- 
natives are concerned. 

The Central and Eastern Provinces, which include the 
deltaic and the larger part of the forest region, are in- 
habited by Pagan tribes, among whom Mohammedanism 
is at present making but relatively slow progress (none 
at all in many districts) and Christianity, which by fits 
and starts and with long intervals has been at them since 
the fifteenth century, still less. These tribes are of an 

64 



THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PROVINCES 

independent, sturdy temperament, and in the remoter 
parts of both Provinces still uncontrolled, or virtually 
so. They are, almost without exception, great traders, 
and the British merchants who know them best speak 
highly of their honesty in commercial transactions. 

The problem of governing these peoples offers no 
complications, which may be called political, of a serious 
character. It is rendered easier in the Central Province, 
where the authority of the Benin Kingdom, exercised 
for so many centuries, has led to the centralization of a 
strong native authority ; and proportionately less so in 
the Eastern Province, where no considerable native power 
was ever evolved. The Administration levies no direct 
tax, and its chief concern is to keep the peace, to open up 
the country, and to check barbarous customs. Astonish- 
ing progress has been effected in these respects during the 
past decade, nor must' it be supposed that because there 
is an absence of complex political questions, progress has 
not been attended with complexities of a different order. 
Indeed, people at home can have no conception of the 
natural difficulties under which the administrator, the 
merchant, and, for that matter, the native also, labour 
in carr5dng out their respective tasks and avocations in 
the deltaic and forest regions of Nigeria. For six months 
in the year a very large portion of the Central and Eastern 
Provinces is partially submerged. The Niger overflows 
its banks, every forest rivulet becomes a river, the creeks 
and channels spread their waters upon the land, the forest 
is flooded over an enormous area, and the pathways inter- 
secting it are impassable. 

It is in circumstances such as these that District 
Commissioners have to keep in touch with their districts, 
not infrequently spending days and even nights in dug- 
outs under conditions which may be better imagined 
than described ; marching in the rear of weary carriers 
through reeking, soaking, steaming forest ; negotiating 

65 F 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

streams swollen into torrents ; camping where and when 
they can, the boots they remove getting mouldy in a 
night, the clothes they hang up wringing wet when they 
come to put them on again ; add to this a body often 
plagued with malaria and rheumatism, poorly nourished 
with sometimes insufficient and usually untempting diet, 
tormented by stinging insects, and a faint idea can be 
formed of conditions, during the rainy season, of a life 
which even in the dry season calls upon the utmost 
reserves of a man's moral fibre, to say nothing of his 
physical powers. That the latter give way does not, 
alas! need demonstration, for while a favoured few resist, 
the roll of deaths and invaliding tells its own tale ; and 
it would not be surprising if the former proved itself 
frequently unequal to the strain. Such cases are, how- 
ever, extremely rare, and it is but natural if men labour- 
ing for their country under the conditions of hardship I 
have inadequately sketched should bitterly resent being 
portrayed on public platforms at home in the light of 
rivets in an administrative machine cynically demoraliz- 
ing the natives of the country with drink in order to raise 
revenue.* Assuredly it is necessary, as a prominent 
statesman addressing the House of Commons declared 
some years ago, that " the more you extend your Empire 
the more imperative it is that this House should extract 
irom its agents abroad the same standard of conduct 
which we exact at home." But it is also necessary that 
public opinion in Britain should take more trouble than it 
does to realize something of the conditions under which 
its agents in the most unhealthy tropical regions of the 
Empire have to spend their lives, and should extend to 
them more sympathy than, at present, it seems often 
inclined to do. 

It is in this part of Nigeria, where natural man is 
perpetually in conflict with his environment, that you 

* Vide Part IV. 

66 













_ ==.-v , - ) 







THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PROVINCES 

would expect to find those darker customs and practices 
connected with the spiritual side of life, whereby humanity 
has in all ages sought to propitiate the forces of Nature ; 
customs which under the modern form of sword-dances, 
Morris dances, and the like attest to their former exist- 
ence in Europe. If we are honest with ourselves we 
must admit that the inspiration which has evolved a 
sort of misty horror around the peoples of the West 
Coast of Africa, has been largely drawn from the setting 
of swamp and forest where the sacrificial rites associated 
with them, more prominently, perhaps, than they deserve, 
have been performed. In themselves these rites differ 
in no way from those we are familiar with in the records 
of white peoples when they had reached a stage of in- 
tellectual advancement which the Nigerian negro has 
certainly never attained, and which it is doubtful if any 
human stock could, or can ever, attain, in such an en- 
vironment. Owing 'to the unconquered and, I think, 
unconquerable natural forces surrounding him, the 
Nigerian of the delta is still in the stage " to listen to the 
will of Jove which comes forth from the lofty and verdant 
oak " ; to seek as the load-star of his spiritual necessities 
and in his ceaseless struggle against implacable odds, the 
conciliation of the fertilizing spirit through whose assist- 
ance alone he can hope to subject them ; to incorporate 
the personality of protecting deities into man by oblation 
and by human or animal sacrifice, the shedding of blood 
being the mystic symbol of established contact with the 
protecting spiritual elements (the same prompting ani- 
mates the most sacred of Christian rites) as it remains 
the tangible and most potent symbol of human brother- 
hood. The sacrificial knife of the Nigerian negro may 
seem more repulsive to the modern eye from the setting 
of black forms framed in the deep shadows of primeval 
forest and foetid swamp, and a double dose of original 
sin may with complacency be assigned to him by the 

67 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

superficial. But in itself and in the motive which raises 
it quivering over the bound and helpless victim, it differen- 
tiates not at all from the story of Abraham and Isaac 
handed down to us in the sacred writings and not, cer- 
tainly, in a light other than commendable, given the 
setting. If some of those who are so ready to pass 
shallow judgment upon the social and spiritual habits 
of the West African chez lui and who are responsible for 
so much misapprehension in the public mind as to his 
true character, would study the book of Genesis, they 
might approach the subject with an exacter sense of pro- 
portion. For a cessation of these practices in their most 
repellant forms — already much curtailed, openly at least 
— ^time must be relied upon and the most powerful element 
in hastening the process is not the punitive expedition, 
but increased facility for inter-communication which 
trade expansion generates and entails upon Government 
to provide. It may be safely predicted that the process 
will be far more rapid than it was in Europe. 

No more striking object lesson in the capacity for 
real progress along indigenous lines possessed by the 
Southern Nigerian pagan could be sought than a com- 
parison between the Bini people of 1897 and the Bini 
people of to-day. A powerful tribe now numbering 
some 150,000 and inhabiting the Central Province, the 
Binis had long been the slaves, so to speak, of a theocracy 
which had succeeded in denaturalizing the original native 
state-form and in obtaining an over-mastering hold over 
the people. The King's superstitions made him a puppet 
in its hands. The murder of several British officials was 
followed by the capture of the city, and the occupation 
of the country. Though mild in comparison with the 
autodafes and kindred pursuits of the Spanish Inquisition 
and the long persecution of the Jews which have dis- 
tinguished other priesthoods in cultured surroundings 
that call for a certain sobriety of judgment in discussing 

68 







/■ 


^~^- 


\ 




1 


■•-■,- 




THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN PROVINCES 

the priesthood of primitive Benin, the latter had succeeded 
m inspiring a reign of terror throughout the country. 
No man's Hfe was safe, and Benin city, the capital, was a 
place of abominations. The priesthood were rightly 
broken, but the authority of the chiefs maintained, and 
despite one single administrative error, which, if not 
repaired, may occasion trouble later on, the Binis have 
become one of the most prosperous and law-abiding 
people in the Protectorate. They have co-operated so 
efficiently with the Forestry Department that throughout 
the Benin territory no tree can be unlawfully felled 
without the Forest Officer being informed. They are 
planting up their forest land with valuable timber trees. 
Supplied by the department with seeds, shown how to 
make nurseries and to supervise transplanting, but doing 
their own clearing, planting, and upkeep, no fewer than 
700 villages have established communal rubber planta- 
tions of Funtamia elasUca which they are increasing year 
by year. Many of the trees — of which there are one and 
a quarter millions whose present estimated value at a 
low computation is £165,000 — are now of tappable size. 
Their share in the licence fees paid by European lease- 
holders engaged in the timber and rubber industry in 
Bini territory supplies the Bini communities with a 
further source of income. So greatly do these intelli- 
gent people appreciate the efforts of the Administration 
to enrich their country that when a little while ago they 
started tapping operations in their rubber plantations 
under the supervision of the Forestry Officer, the chiefs 
and villagers insisted that a third share should go to 
Government, and, despite the Governor's objections, they 
would consent to no other arrangement. This has now 
become embodied in law. The Forestry Department 
undertakes to dispose of the rubber from the communal 
plantations, the profits being divided as to one-third for 
the paramount chiefs, one-third for the village community, 

69 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

and one-third for the Administration. From their 
increased revenues the chiefs of Benin city, " the city of 
blood," as it used to be termed, have already built for 
themselves a substantial court-house of stone and brick 
and furnished their capital with a proper water-supply, 
putting down four miles of piping — ^thus saving the labour 
of thousands of persons who had daily to trudge to and 
from the river — and finding the money for a reservoir, a 
pumping station, and public hydrants. 

Such surprising results in the short space of fourteen 
years are at once a tribute to British rule and to the negro 
of the Nigerian forests. Many obvious morals suggest 
themselves. 



70 



CHAPTER V 

LAGOS AND ITS PORT — THE FUTURE BOMBAY OF 
WEST AFRICA 

Early in the seventies, a decade after the British occu- 
pation, Lagos, for more years than one cares to remember 
an important export centre of the slave trade, was a small 
settlement inhabited by Yoruba and Bini agriculturists 
and traders. The Hinterland, threatened by Dahomeyan 
invasions from the west and Fulani inroads from the north, 
distressed by internal struggles between Various sections 
of the Yoruba people rebelling against the central autho- 
rity, was in a state of perpetual ferment. Severed from, 
the mainland, maintaining themselves from hand to 
mouth, and swept by disease, the few British officials 
led an unenviable existence. A small three-roomed 
house protected from the rains by an iron roof harboured 
the Governor, and the members of his staff were glad to 
accept the hospitality of European merchants earning 
a precarious if lucrative livelihood by trading with the 
natives in palm oil, kernels, ivory, and cotton. 

To-day Lagos is a picturesque, congested town of 
some 80,000 inhabitants, boasting many fine public 
buildings and official and European and native merchants' 
residences, churches, wharves, a hospital, a tramway, 
a bacteriological institute, a marine engineering establish- 
ment, to say nothing of cold storage and electric light 
plant, hotels, a racecourse, and other appurtenances of 
advanced civilization. Like every other part of West Africa 

71 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

that I have seen, Lagos is full of violent contrasts. Every 
variety of craft — ^the tonnage of the place is something 
like 250,000 tons per annum — is to be observed in the 
water and every variety of dress in the busy streets, from 
the voluminous robes of the turbaned Mohammedan to the 
latest tailoring monstrosities of Western Europe. The 
Yoruba lady with a Bond Street hat and hobble skirt ; 
her sister in the infinitely more graceful enfolding cloths 
of blue or terra-cotta, with the bandanna kerchief for 
head-gear ; opulent resident native merchants or Govern- 
ment clerks in ordinary English costume ; keen-featured 
"uneducated" traders from whose shoulders hang the 
African riga — a cosmopolitan crowd which includes Sierra 
Leonean, Cape Coast, and Accra men, attracted by the 
many prospects of labour an ever-increasing commercial 
and industrial activity offers to carpenters, mechanics, 
traders' assistants, and the like. Here a church thronged 
on Sundays with African ladies and gentlemen in their 
finest array ; here a mosque built by the local and rapidly 
increasing Yoruba Muslims at a cost of £5,000. Here a 
happy African family laughing and chattering in a tumble- 
down old shanty within close proximity to a " swagger " 
bungalow gay with brilliant creepers ; there a seminary 
where a number of young ladies, looking supremely un- 
comfortable in their European frocks, supplemented by 
all the etceteras of Western feminine wardrobes, their 
short hair frizzled out into weird contortions, are learning 
as fast as their teachers can make them those hundred 
and one inutilities which widen the breach between them 
and their own beautiful, interesting land. A certain kind 
of prosperity is writ large over the place, but there is good 
reason to believe that economic pressure in its different 
forms, none more acutely felt than the ascending price 
of foodstuffs, is beginning to bear hardly upon the poorer 
classes, and the political and social atmosphere of the town 
is not altogether healthy, 

72 



LAGOS AND ITS PORT 

Historical circumstances rather than natural advan- 
tages have made Lagos the most important commercial 
emporium of British West Africa and the starting-point 
of a railway into the interior. It is difficult to see, if the 
traf&c of this railway and its future feeders develops, as 
there is every reason to believe it will, how the already 
crowded and circumscribed area of Lagos can possibly 
prove equal to the demands upon it. Indeed, its physical 
features are in many respects most disadvantageous for 
the role of the West African Bombay it appears called 
upon to bear, and it is only by the expenditure of millions 
which, spread over the Protectorate, would have achieved 
results of much greater fruitfulness, that Lagos can be 
converted into a harbour worthy of the name. For 
Lagos is cursed with a bar which vessels drawing more 
than fourteen feet cannot cross, and the absurd anomaly, 
to say nothing of the expense and loss of time and damage 
to valuable cargo involved, is witnessed of vessels with 
merchandise consigned to the premier port in Nigeria 
having to steam 120 miles south of it and there discharge 
their freight into branch steamers for conveyance to 
destination. An elusive and sinister obstruction is Lagos 
bar, strewn with wrecks and hitherto refractory to 
dredging, which shifts its depths three feet in a single 
week, while the position of the channels is continually 
altering. As one surveys the coast-line and notes the 
two, comparatively speaking, deep and roomy anchorages 
of Forcados and Old Calabar, one cannot refrain from 
marvelling somewhat at the curious chain of events 
which has conspired to concentrate effort and expense 
upon a place so difficult of access. However, the past 
cannot be undone, and no doubt there is much to be said 
in favour of Lagos, or rather of the happenings which 
have ministered to its selection. Be that as it may, the 
destinies of Southern Nigeria have for the last five years 
been in the hands of a Governor of large ideas and enormous 

73 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

energy. Sir Walter Egerton, who, despite numerous dis- 
appointments and maddening delays, has pursued with 
dogged persistence and infinite resource the object dearest 
to his heart — that of opening the harbour. A compre- 
hensive scheme of works, entailing the construction of 
two stone moles, one on either side of the entrance, com- 
bined with harbour and channel dredging, is proceeding 
under the direction of Messrs. Coode, Son, and Matthews, 
and the constant personal supervision of the Governor, 
in the confident belief that its completion will ensure 
(combined with dredging) a depth of twenty-seven feet 
at high water, corresponding to twenty-four feet at low 
tide. When I was in Lagos a month ago * the work on the 
eastern mole had advanced 4,500 feet seawards, but the 
western mole is not yet started, and will not be, it is 
feared, for some time, a further delay having been caused 
by the foundering of the Axim, with much indispensable 
material on board. 

,One must have stood at the extremity of the eastern 
mole and watched the greedy, muddy-coloured sea absorb- 
ing like some insatiable monster the masses of grey rock 
hurled, at all times of the day and every day in the week, 
into its depths, to appreciate the colossal difficulties of a 
task which, brought to a successful issue, will always 
remain ah impressive testimony to human perseverance 
under climatic and other conditions of perennial difficulty. 
West Africa has certainly never seen anything comparable 
to it. Nature disputes with man for every inch of vantage. 
As the work progresses the sand twists and writhes into 
ever-changing formations ; banks arise and disappear 
only to again re-form ; the foreshore on the outer side 
of the mole grows and swells and rises weekly, threatening 
to become level with the wall itself and even to overwhelm 
it ; the scour of the sea scoops into the ocean's floor, thus 
forcing the advancing mole into deep water, which 

• February, 1911. 

74 



LAGOS AND ITS PORT 

demands a proportionately larger meal of stone. From 
out the greyness of the horizon the remains of the Kano, 
KiUiwake, Egga, and other vessels that once were, lift 
lamentable spars above the angry breakers. From Abeo- 
kuta, thirty miles away, these innumerable tons of 
granitic boulders must be brought, despatched in 
" boxes " from the newly-opened quarries to Ebute- 
Metta by rail. There the " boxes " are Hfted from the 
waggons and hoisted by cranes into lighters, the 
lighters are towed to the wharf, the " boxes " lifted 
out of them, run along the mole, and their contents 
hurled into the sea. Every foot's advance requires sixty 
tons of stone. At the accelerated rate of progress now 
ensured the eastern mole will be finished in four years. 
The labour and organization required to bring this great 
work to its present stage — ^initial steps in West Africa 
being invariably characterized by endless impediments — 
have been prodigious. Despite the sombre prognostica- 
tions one hears in certain quarters, there seems no reason- 
able doubt that the bar will yield in time, as the forest 
has yielded, to British genius and pertinacity aided by 
African muscles, but at a cost which, when the time 
comes to add up the bill, will prove, I think, much heavier 
than generally supposed. 

Lagos is joined to the mainland by two substantial 
bridges, one connecting the island with another small 
island called Iddo, which stands between Lagos Island 
and the continent, and one connecting Iddo with the 
continent itself at Ebute-Metta. From thence the rail- 
way starts on its way northward, traversing the whole 
of Yorubaland and tapping the Niger at Jebba. 



75 



CHAPTER VI 

THE YORUBAS AND THEIR COUNTRY 

The administrative problems which confront the Govern- 
ment of Southern Nigeria in the western, or Yoruba, 
province are very much more comphcated than any to 
be met with in the central and eastern provinces. They 
arise partly from the character, at once progressive and 
unstable, of the Yorubas themselves, partly from the 
curious divergence in the political relations subsisting 
between his Majesty's Government and the various 
sections of the old Yoruba confederation, partly from 
the influences working in favour of direct British rule 
which find favour in the Lagos Legislative Council, but 
mainly through neglect, disinclination to look a situation 
not without delicacy in the face, and the absence of any 
serious effort to map out a definite, consistent policy. 

In one respect at least, that of the rapid assimilation 
of every feature, good, bad, and indifferent, which comes 
to them from the West with the influx of European 
religious and social ideas, law, and commercial and in- 
dustrial activity, the Yorubas (who considerably out- 
number them) may be termed the Baganda of West 
Africa. If this capacity spells true progress for a tropical 
African people, then the Yorubas are infinitely more pro- 
gressive than any of the peoples, not of Nigeria merely, 
but of Western Africa. It is, nevertheless, worthy of 
remark that, without exception, all the native papers 
published in Lagos which, if not in every case edited by 

76 



THE YORUBAS AND THEIR COUNTRY 

Yorubas, profess in every case to be the mouthpieces of 
the " Yoruba nation," ceaselessly lament the European- 
izing of the country, the decay of the national spirit, the 
decadence of family authority, and the deterioration of 
the rising generation without, however — so far as many 
years' perusal of their columns can enable one to judge 
— ever making an attempt to grapple with the pro- 
blem in a constructive sense, and, in some cases, per- 
haps unwittingly, contributing not a little to further 
the processes which they denounce and deplore. In 
this, their notable characteristic, the Yorubas may 
have been influenced by environment, for although a 
considerable portion of the area they inhabit is forest 
land, much of it is open park-like country, and the 
whole of it lies outside the deltaic region altogether. 
It is among the Yorubas that Christian missionary pro- 
paganda has obtained most of its converts in West Africa, 
although none of the ruling chiefs have accepted the 
Christian faith, and although Islam is now making much 
more headway than Christianity. Moreover, official 
Christianity, already represented in Yoruba by as many 
sects as we have at home, has been riven by the defection 
of a body, some 3000 strong, I beheve, which has con- 
stituted itself an independent Church, the real, though 
not explicity avowed, motive being a refusal to abide by 
the monogamous sexual relationship which the Church 
enforces. With Christian missionary teaching Western 
education, or, more accurately, and, generally, semi- 
education (and indifferent at that) has, of course, gone 
hand in hand, and it is among the Yorubas almost ex- 
clusively, so far as Southern Nigeria is concerned, that 
the problem of the " educated native " and what his part 
is to be in the future of the country arises and threatens 
already to become acute. 

Nowhere in Africa, it may be confidently asserted, 
are so many radically different influences, policies and 

n 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

tendencies at work among one and the same people as 
are observable to-day in this Yorubaland of 28,000 square 
miles. The situation is really quite extraordinary, and 
offers an unlimited field of speculation to the student. 
The natural aptitudes of the Yorubas — of both sexes — 
are husbandry and trade, not soldiering. But the neces- 
sities of tribal defence drove them to concentrate in large 
centres. These centres have remained and become the 
capitals of separate provinces, allegiance to the original 
head having mostly fallen into virtual, in some cases 
into total, desuetude. Thus we find to-day a series of 
native towns which for estimated numbers surpass any- 
thing to be met with in any part of native Africa — such 
as Ibadan,, 150,000 ; Abeokuta, 100,000 ; Oshogbo, 40,000 ; 
Ogbomosho, 35,000; Ife, 30,000; Oyo, 40,000; Ijebu- 
Ode, 35,000 ; Iseyin, 40,000 ; some twelve other towns 
with a population of between 10,000 and 20,000 ; and 
twice as many more whose inhabitants number 5000 to 
8000. The most surprising contrasts, illustrative of the 
divergences referred to, are noticeable in these agglome- 
rations of human life — for instance, between Abeokuta, 
Ibadan, and Oyo. Abeokuta, the capital of the " Egba 
united Government " (whose authority extends over 
1869 square miles), its mass of corrugated iron roofs 
glaring beneath the rays of the tropical sun, spreading 
around and beneath the huge outcrop of granitic rock 
where its founders first settled a hundred years ago, 
offers the curious picture of a Europeanized African town 
in the fuUest sense of the term, but with this unique 
feature, that its administration and the administration 
of the district, of which it is the capital, is conducted 
by natives — i.e. by the Alake (the head chief) in council. 
It is, of course, true that the British Commissioner 
wields very great influence, but he is invested with no 
legal powers of intervention whatever, because the British 
treaty with the Egba section of the Yoruba people 

78 



^^^?^^^%^^ 











THE YORUBAS AND THEIR COUNTRY 

recognizes their independence in all internal affairs ; and 
all Government notices and pronouncements posted up 
in the town are signed by the Alake and the Alake's 
secretary. The Commissioner, Mr. Young, finds himself, 
indeed, in a position where the utmost tact is required. 
He has passed through very unpleasant times, and the 
confidence and respect he has ultimately won constitute 
a veritable triumph of personality. He has achieved the 
seemingly impossible task of becoming a real power in a 
native State over which, save in its external relations 
and in civil and criminal cases affecting " non-Egbas," 
the British Government has no legal jurisdiction. The 
Alake, a burly African, has not — a matter of thankfulness 
— adopted European dress, as the bulk of his officials have 
done, but he lives in a two-storeyed European house 
boasting of a tennis-court which, I am confident, the 
ample proportions of its owner forbid him from using. 
The whole machinery of administration is on the Euro- 
pean pattern, with its Secretariat, Treasury, Public 
Works Department, Police, Prison, Printing Offices, Post 
Office, etc. — all managed by Europeanized Africans. I 
visited most of the Government departments, the prison, 
and printing offices, and was impressed with the industry 
and business-like air which reigned within them. The 
revenues, thanks to the Commissioner, are in a healthy 
state. Excellent roads have been and are being con- 
structed. A water supply is being arranged for out of 
a loan of ^^30,000 advanced by the Southern Nigeria 
Government. Labour-saving machinery is being intro- 
duced at the Commissioner's suggestion. An imposing 
college is in course of erection. It is all very remarkable 
and interesting. Whether it is durable is a matter which 
I shall have occasion to discuss later on. 

Very different is the state of affairs such as I found it 
early in this year in Ibadan, capital of a district of 4000 
square miles with a dense population of 430,000 (107 to 

79 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the square mile), an enormous, straggling, grass-roofed, 
rather unkempt town luxuriating in tropical vegetation and 
whose neighbourhood abounds with rich and delightful 
scenery. Here, administratively speaking, government is 
neither fish, fowl, nor good red-herring ; neither African, 
nor European, nor Europeanized-African. All real in- 
fluence has been taken out of the hands of the Bale 
(head-chief) and nothing has been substituted for it. 
Treated at intervals with unwise familiarity and with con- 
temptuous disregard, the present Bale, a man obviously 
unfitted for his office, has no authority over his chiefs, 
who in council — as I have myself witnessed — openly 
deride him. The inevitable consequence is that the chiefs 
themselves constantly intrigue against one another and 
have no prestige with the people, while the people them- 
selves have no respect either for their own rulers or for 
the white man. A visit to the Bale's Court in company 
with the recently-appointed Acting-Resident was a sur- 
prising revelation — quite as painful, I am inclined to 
believe, to that official as to the writer — of unmannerly 
conduct, of total absence of respect for his Majesty's repre- 
sentative, of utter lack of decorum and dignity. The 
" Ibadan Government," as I saw it, is a caricature, and 
a dangerous caricature, of government, unlike anything, 
I am glad to say, which I observed in either of the two 
Protectorates. The town and the inhabitants are ob- 
viously out of hand, and in my opinion — an opinion 
which, having felt bound to communicate it to the 
responsible authorities in Nigeria, I am the freer to state 
here — ^is that if the whole place be not thoroughly over- 
hauled, events must arise at no distant day leading to 
considerable trouble. I am inclined to think that some 
people would rather welcome trouble. 

Oyo, again, is a singular contrast both to Abeokuta 
and to Ibadan. The seat of the Alafin, titular head of 
all the Yoruba-speaking peoples, Oyo is a clean, peaceful, 

80 



THE YORUBAS AND THEIR COUNTRY 

sleepy town charmingly situate in open country and 
reverentially regarded by many Yorubas. Here the 
native form of government has been happily preserved 
against many assaults from both within and without. 
The Alafin's abode — the Afin — consists of a collection 
of spacious compounds beautifully thatched with here 
grass and surrounded by a wall. Here the Court is held, 
distinguished by all the ceremonial inherent to what was 
once (and might again become) a wonderfully efficient 
national Government. In its courthness, its simple if 
barbaric dignity, the decorum of chiefs and councillors, 
and the manifest honour in which the ruling head was 
held, this Pagan Court recalled the best type of native 
government I had previously observed in the Mohammedan 
Hausa provinces of Northern Nigeria, although differing 
radically from the latter in construction and formulae. 
The Alafin himself, a man of great strength and stature, 
his head surmounted by the national casque or crown 
of heavy native coral, with a curious face which reminded 
one of the lineaments of the Egyptian Sphinx (the 
Yorubas profess to trace their descent from Egypt), 
is one of the most striking native personalities I observed 
in Nigeria. A notable incident in the State reception I 
witnessed was the presence among the prostrated chiefs 
of several whose dress showed that they had embraced 
Islam, doing obeisance to their pagan lord. 

This brief description of the three most important 
centres of Yoruba life will serve to show how varied and 
haphazard are the forms which British policy takes in 
the Western Province. I fear that much trouble lies 
ahead if steps are not adopted to evolve something more 
closely approximating to statecraft in handling the 
problems of the country. Aft attempt to show what 
might be done and the reasons for doing it will be made 
in the next chapter. 

8i G 



CHAPTER VII 

BRITISH POLICY IN YORUBALAND 

The political situation in Yorubaland, some aspects of 
which were briefly sketched in the preceding chapter, is 
one that, obviously, cannot last. Its inconveniences are 
too numerous and too palpable and it bears within it 
the seeds of dissolution. The whole relationship of the 
different Yoruba States (or, rather, dismembered sections) 
between themselves and between them and the British raj 
as established by Treaty or by Agreement (which should 
have equally binding force) abounds in contradictions, 
irregularities, and potency for mischief. In the Abeokuta 
district we have theoretically no authority, since, as 
already mentioned, there is a Treaty guaranteeing the 
independence of the Egbas in their internal affairs. But 
every one knows that, given an untactful Commissioner 
or the development of some more than usually menacing 
intrigue against the Alake, circumstances might arise at 
any time which would compel British intervention. 
With Oyo we have a treaty of friendship and commerce 
and we have a separate treaty of the same kind with 
Ibadan, although Ibadan recognizes the paramountcy of, 
and pays tribute to, Oyo. In Oyo we have not materially 
interfered with native government. In the Ibadan dis- 
trict native government is, in practice, a myth. Such a state 
of things leads to singular inconsistencies, and the Southern 
Nigeria Administration would find it difficult to reconcile 
its actions in certain directions with its actions in others. 

82 



'r'*'-^-yrT 



• -*->4^**«v 






■^;* 




ENTRANCE 10 THE ' AFIX OR RESIDENCE OF THE ALAFIN OF 0\0, 

SHOWING T'.-PICAL "I'ORt'BA THATCHING. 



BRITISH POLICY IN YORUBALAND 

Take, for example, the land question. If there is 
one thing upon which all the most experienced Nigerian 
administrators are agreed it is the absolute essentiality, 
for the future of the people of the country, that their 
use and enjoyment of the land should be secured, not 
only against a certain type of European capitalist who 
covets this rich soil for his own schemes, and, under the 
pretence of industrial expansion, would cheerfully turn the 
native agriculturist, farmer, and trader into a "labourer," 
but against the class of native who, for his own ends, 
for speculative purposes mainly, seeks to undermine 
native law and to change the right of user upon which 
native land tenure is based, into that of owner at the 
expense of the community at large. More especially 
does this become a question of vital importance to native 
communities where, as in Yorubaland, you have a com- 
paratively dense population which under the pax Britan- 
nica is bound to increase at a very rapid rate, and thus 
requires every inch of land for its own future uses. But 
as matters stand at present, we cannot, in the Egba 
district, which, being nearer to Lagos, is more accessible 
to certain undesirable influences, both European and 
native, and to the infiltration of European laws and 
customs regulating the tenure of land, take effective 
measures to counteract these influences. We could, of 
course, if we chose, not in the Egba district only, but 
throughout Yorubaland. But there has been a lamentable 
reluctance both at home and in the Protectorate to foresee 
and cope with a predicament which all realize, which some 
from a natural bent of mind inclining them to favour the 
substitution ever5rwhere of direct for indirect rule, and 
others who are of the same way of thinking but from 
motives of self-interest may secretly rejoice at, but which 
the officials whose hearts are really in the country and 
who have sufficient experience to understand the endless 
and disastrous embarrassments that the disintegration 

83 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

of native law relating to land would produce, deeply 
deplore. What has been the result ? The Egbas are 
beginning to buy and to sell land among themselves in 
absolute violation of their own customs and laws, thereby 
laying up for their country a heritage of trouble and 
inserting the thin edge of the wedge of their own undoing 
by letting in the land monopolist and speculator. This, 
according to all its professions and to its actions in some 
specific circumstances, for which it is to be warmly 
commended, is, in the view of the Administration, inimical 
to the public interest of the Protectorate. What is 
springing up in Abeokuta to-day will spread to the other 
districts to-morrow — nay, is doing so. 

Take another example. The welfare of an agri- 
cultural community demands, for many reasons scientifi- 
cally substantiated, that a stop should be put to the 
reckless destruction of timbered areas such as has been 
proceeding all over Yorubaland. This is inherently a 
public interest, and the Forestry Officer in the discharge 
of his duties is merely a servant of the public. But in 
the Western Province, for the same reasons, we cannot 
or are unwilling to put our case to the native authorities 
for the protection of the people against themselves with 
the same moral force as in the case of the other two 
provinces. We are confined, or think we are confined, 
to simple persuasion. Now, persuasion by the Forestry 
Ofiicer alone is one thing, and persuasion by the Forestry 
Officer supported by direct representations from the 
Executive at Lagos is a very different thing. It is the 
latter form of persuasion that has been absent, and very 
great credit is due alike to the Forestry Officers and to 
a Commissioner trusted by the native rulers, Mr. W. A. 
Ross, as well as to the intelligence of those native rulers 
themselves, that in the Oyo district both State and 
communal reserves have been created, the latter of 
great extent including the entire valley of the Ogun. 

84 



BRITISH POLICY IN YORUBALAND 

But in the Abeokuta and Ibadan districts persuasion has 
failed hitherto to secure any really tangible results. It is 
almost unnecessary to point out that the interests of the 
population do not suffer merely indirectly and potentially, 
but directly thereby. Not only does Southern Nigeria 
import quantities of timber from Europe when the 
country should itself provide for all requirements, but 
even so primitive a necessity as firewood is beginning 
to make itself felt round such towns as Ede, Abeokuta, 
and Ibadan. 

In these problems the policy of the Southern Nigeria 
Administration has been to leave the matter to the native 
authorities, in other words, to let the land question slide 
down a perilous declivity, and to allow the question of 
forestry preservation to be left to the unsupported efforts 
of the Forestry Department. If this policy of non- 
interference had been consistently applied in other 
directions an intelligible case, at least, might be made 
out for it. But the facts are notoriously otherwise. To 
mention but one instance. Two years ago pressure was 
put upon the Ibadan authorities to vote unpopular 
licensing regulations in the interests of temperance, and 
one of the incidents subsequently arising out of it was the 
stoppage of the Bale's stipend by the Acting Resident 
with the concurrence of the Executive at Lagos ! Only 
last February a Bill called the " Foreign Jurisdiction 
Ordinance, 1911," was passed through the Lagos Legis- 
lative Council, which provides for the extension of the 
laws of the colony to the Protectorate of Yorubaland 
(except Abeokuta) without the native authorities being 
even consulted, the Attorney-General adopting, in effect, 
the extraordinary position that the Government could 
take no account of " agreements, understandings, or 
letters " (concluded or written by previous Governors) 
with the native chiefs ! If the native chiefs realized what 
the logical outcome of the Ordinance might mean for them, 

85 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

by an Executive in Lagos, which adopted the legal argu- 
ment quoted, there would be ferment from one end of 
Yoruba to the other. 

It must be clear from what precedes that the time 
has come when the whole position of the Yoruba States 
in relation to the paramount Power should be reconsidered. 
The railway and other agencies are causing the country 
to move forward very fast, and conditions are being 
evolved through the attempt to drive in two directions 
at once, which can only lead, if not to the ultimate 
annexation of Yorubaland, then to what would, if 
possible, be even worse — viz. the strangulation by 
successive stages of every effective agency in native 
government, leaving the chiefs and their councils mere 
puppets in the hands of the Lagos Legislative Council. 
Now neither of these courses is, I am convinced, desired 
by the Imperial Government. The drift is, nevertheless, 
apparent to all that have eyes to see and ears to hear. 
There is a strong party in Lagos favouring direct rule. 
There is a combination of distinct infiuences^n many 
respects working unconsciously — ^making for the break- 
up of native land tenure and the undermining of native 
authority. There is the increasing danger of leaving 
the land question unregulated and the difficulty attend- 
ing the adoption of adequate measures for forest preserva- 
tion. 

Only one course would appear open to the authorities 
if they desire to stop the dry rot. The first step would 
consist in getting the Native Councils — i.e. the Chiefs 
in Council — of all the districts in the Western Province 
to pass an identical measure of national land preservation 
which would become known as the Yoruba Land Act. 
Inalienability of land is the cardinal principle of Yoruba 
land tenure. The preamble of the measure would define 
Yoruba law and custom in regard to land. The body 
of the measure would declare to be illegal all buying 

86 



BRITISH POLICY IN YORUBALAND 

and selling of land, either between natives and natives or 
between natives and non-natives, and would establish 
limitations of area and time for the holding of leased 
lands by private individuals or associations, with pro- 
vision for revision of rentals at specified periods. The 
need of such a measure should be recognized and the 
action proposed sanctioned by the Secretary of State, 
and the matter should be represented to the native 
authorities with all the additional weight which in their 
eyes it would under those circumstances possess. It 
cannot be doubted that were the measure fully and 
thoroughly explained to the Native Councils and its 
urgency in the interests of their people emphasized, 
little or no trouble would be experienced in ensuring its 
adoption. In the improbable event of difficulties arising 
it would be the plain duty of the Administration to 
overcome them. The Administration should be able 
to count in a matter of this kind upon the support of 
every patriotic educated Yoruban. The second step 
would be more far-reaching — viz. the general recon- 
struction of the machinery of national government over 
the whole province, and the welding together under the 
headship of the Alafin of Oyo — the " King and Lord of 
Yorubaland," as he is described in the British Treaty — 
working with a Council representative of all Yorubaland, 
of the separate districts which internal anarchy and 
external aggression between them have caused to fall 
away from the central authority. The existing Councils 
of the various districts would, of course, remain, but we 
should have what we have not at present, a true " Yoruba 
Council," a strong central native Government through 
which the development, the progress, and the common 
welfare of the country could proceed on definite, ordered, 
national lines. 

This would be Empire-building of the real kind. It 
would not be unattended with difficulty. It would 

87 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

require time, much tact, and, above all, full and frank 
exposition and explanation. But it is feasible of accom- 
plishment, and by a policy of this kind alone can one of 
the most interesting and promising races of Western 
Africa hope to reach, under our supreme direction, its 
full development. The elements necessary to the success 
of such policy exist. They do not need to be created, 
but only to have their vitality revived and their course 
adjusted and guided. 



88 



PART III 
NORTHERN NIGERIA 



CHAPTER I 

THE NATURAL HIGHWAY TO THE UPLANDS OF THE NORTH 

A CASUAL visitor provided by private kindness with the 
hospitality of a stem-wheeler and not, therefore, exposed 
to the discomforts (soon, it is to be hoped, to be a thing 
of the past, with the completion of railway communica- 
tions between Lagos and Zungeru) with which an inex- 
cusably inefficient service of river-boats afflicts the 
unhappy official on his way to Northern Nigeria, packed 
like a sardine, and feeding as best he can, may be pardoned 
for finding much of captivating interest in 400 miles of 
leisurely steaming, with many a halt en route, from 
Forcados to Baro, the starting-point of the Northern 
Nigerian Railway to Kano. The heat of the afternoons, 
the myriad insect visitors which are heralded by the light- 
ing of the lamps, blacken the cloth and invade every part 
of the person accessible to their attentions, the stifling 
nights, spent, may be, at anchor under the lee of per- 
pendicular banks ; these are trifles not worthy of mention 
by comparison with the rewards they bring. Kaleido- 
scopic varieties of scenic effects enchant the eye as hour 
follows hour and day follows day on the bosom of this 
wonderful Niger, passing from serpentine curves so 
narrow that the revolving paddles seem in imminent 
danger of sinking into the bank itself or snapping against 
some one of the many floating snags, to ever broadening 
and majestic proportions with vistas of eternal forest, 
of villages nestling amid banana groves, of busy fishermen 

91 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

flinging their nets, of occasional dark massive heads 
hfted a brief second from the deeps to disappear silently 
as they arose, of brilliant blue kingfishers darting hither 
and thither. Now the river flows through some natural 
greenhouse of palms and ferns, whose nodding fronds 
are reflected in the still green waters, now past a fringe 
of matted creepers gay with purple convolvulus pierced 
at intervals with the grey upstanding bole of the silk 
cotton tree. Here its course is broken by long stretches 
of fine hummocky sand across whose shining surface 
stalk the egret and the crane, the adjoining rushes 
noisy with the cackle of the spur-winged geese. Here 
it glides expanding between open plains bordered with 
reeds, only to narrow once more as the plain heaves 
upward and the tall vegetable growth gives way to arid 
granite outcrops, ascending towards the far horizon 
into high tablelands. If at dawn the Niger veils its 
secrets in billowy mists of white, at sunset the sense 
of mystery deepens. For that, I think, is the principal 
charm of this great highway into the heart of Negro 
Africa, the sense of mystery it inspires. Cradled in 
mystery, for two thousand years it defied the inquisitive- 
ness of the outer world, guarded from the north by 
dangerous shoals and rapids ; hiding its outlet in a 
fan-shaped maze of creeks. To-day when its sanctuaries 
are violated, its waters churned and smitten by strange 
and ugly craft, it is still mysterious, vast and unconquered. 
Mysterious that sombre forest the gathering shades 
encompass. Mysterious that tall half -naked figure on 
yonder ledge, crimson framed in the dying sun, motionless 
and statuesque. Mysterious that piercing melancholy 
note which thrills from the profundities beyond, fading 
away in whispers upon the violet and green wavelets 
lapping against the side of the boat. Mysterious those 
rapid staccato drumbeats as unknown humanity on 
one shore signals to unseen humanity on the other. 

92 



OUTLINE MAP OF NORTHERN NIGERIA. 




Miles 60 4-0 20 O 



Scale *,ooo.ooo or ioit "tnclies to 64- Miles 

100 200 400 



eoOMilcs 



Kailiv^j <sonStfiu:ted 

f\o a-cl p}-opo5e,d 



B EFER ENCE 

■ - ^j ^ ^'- Tel'^j^ra.ph Const rust e^ , 



undet' Cor}SCraOC lO/i 

prODcxSc d- 



NATURAL HIGHWAY TO THE UPLANDS 

Mysterious the raucous cry of the crown-birds passing in 
long Hues to their resting-place in the marshes. Mys- 
terious those tiny lights from some unsuspected haunt 
of natural man that spring into life as the sun sinks to 
slumber, and darkness, deep unfathomable darkness, 
rushes over the land there to rest until a blood-red 
moon, defining once again the line of forest, mounts the 
sky. 

From the point of view of navigation and of commerce 
the Niger is a most unsatisfactory and uncertain river 
to work. It can be described, perhaps, as a river full 
of holes with shallows between them. Its channels are 
constantly changing. It is full of sandbanks which take 
on new shapes and sizes every year. The direction of 
the water-flow below Samabri, where the bifurcation 
begins, is so unreliable that within a few years the Nun 
has become virtually useless, the Forcados gaining what 
the Nun has lost, while there are recent indications that 
the process may again be altered in favour once more 
of the Nun to the detriment of the Forcados. In the 
course of the year the water level varies twenty-seven 
feet, the period of rise being from June in an ascending 
scale until the end of September, the fall then com- 
mencing, the river being at its lowest from December to 
May. In the rainy season the banks are flooded in the 
lower regions for miles around. In the dry season the 
banks tower up in places fifteen feet above water level. 
Roughly speaking, the Niger is navigable for steamers 
drawing five feet in June, six feet in July, and so on up 
to twelve feet in the end of September ; from November 
to April for vessels drawing between four and five feet. 
But the conditions of two consecutive years are seldom 
alike. 

Government has done little or nothing to cope with 
these natural difficulties. The Admiralty charts available 
to the captains of steamers are ludicrously obsolete, and 

93 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

all wrong. No continuous series of observations have been 
taken of the river, and no effort made to tackle the 
problem of improving navigation. Four years ago, by 
Sir Percy Girouard's directions, soundings were, indeed, 
taken over a distance of 350 miles from Burutu (Forcados) 
to Lokoja at the junction with the Benue ; with the 
result that only seven miles of sand-bars were reported 
to require dredging in order to secure a six-foot channel 
all the year round. The experienced merchant smiled. 
He is a slightly cynical person, is the West African 
merchant who knows his Niger. Anyhow he is still 
whistling for his six-foot channel. One dredger, the 
best which money could buy, was purchased by the 
Northern Nigerian Administration. It did a little dredg- 
ing round about Lokoja (and the merchants in the south 
declare that the performance has made matters worse 
for them), has been used as a passenger boat up the 
Benue, and is now, I believe, filling up the swamps at 
Baro ; but the six-foot channel still exists as an attractive 
theory in the Government Blue Book. There is so much 
to praise, administratively speaking, in Nigeria that one 
feels the freer to speak bluntly of the failure of Govern- 
ment to handle this matter of Niger navigation. It is 
one of the inevitable, one of the many deplorable, results 
of dual control over a common territory ; one of the 
consequences of the long competition between the two 
rival Administrations, each quite honestly playing for 
its own hand and each quite satisfied that it alone can 
think imperially. The upshot has been pernicious to 
the public interest. The river-service is shocking from 
the point of view of efficiency, and enormously costly. 
The steamers themselves are falling to pieces. There 
is no system of public pilotage, or of lighting. Trading 
steamers must anchor at night, which involves, in the 
aggregate, a great waste of time and money. The two 
Administrations are so busy squabbling over their 

94 



NATURAL HIGHWAY TO THE UPLANDS 

competing railways and manoeuvring to frame rates 
which will cut one another out, that the great natural 
highway into the interior is utterly neglected. 

It is impossible that feelings of respect should not 
go out, not only towards the official who labours under 
these conditions in the Niger waterways but also towards 
the merchant building up in quiet, unostentatious fashion 
the edifice of commercial enterprise upon which, in the 
ultimate resort, the whole fabric of Administrative 
activity reposes. I do not now speak of the heads of 
these powerful trading firms in Europe, many of whom, 
by the way, have themselves gone through the mill in 
their time. To them England is indebted for the Imperial 
position she holds in Nigeria to-day, a fact which is too apt 
to be forgotten. I refer to the men, mostly young, in 
charge of trading stations on the banks of the Niger and 
its creeks, living a life of terrible loneliness amid primitive 
surroundings in a deadly climate, separated in many 
cases several days' journey from another white face, 
not nearly so well housed as the officials (I am describing 
Southern Nigeria, be it remembered), and not, like them, 
helped by the consciousness of power or stimulated by 
the wider horizon the latter enjoy. Thrown entirely 
on their own resources, usually unfitted by their previous 
life to face the privations and isolation of an existence 
such as this, very hard-worked — their lot is not an 
enviable one. No doubt the hardships they have to 
endure are incidental to a career they freely choose, 
although often enough with little or no previous com- 
prehension of its character. No doubt the fibres of a 
minority will be toughened by their experiences. No 
doubt these hardships are infinitely less severe than those 
which the early pioneers were compelled to undergo, 
many succumbing under the process; but in that con- 
nection it should not be forgotten that the latter had 
the incentive of carving out their fortunes with their 

95 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

own hands, whereas the present generation out in 
Nigeria are not their own masters. One cannot help 
reflecting upon the irony of the contrast between the 
commiseration so freely lavished at home upon the spiritual 
drawbacks of the Nigerian native, and the total lack of 
interest displayed by the Church in the welfare of these 
young fellows, many of them mere lads, exposed to all 
the moral temptations of their savage environment 
in which only exceptional natures will detect the broaden- 
ing spiritual influences. What an untold blessing would 
be a periodical visit to their African homes, fronted by 
the silent river, invested by the tropical forest, from an ex- 
perienced, genial, sympathetic minister of God, who for a 
day or two would share their lives and win their confidence. 

There is another matter which should be raised. 
These young men who come out from England — I refer 
to the Enghsh trading firms only, not having inquired 
into the system prevailing among the Continental firms — 
do so under a three years' contract. This is an altogether 
excessive period for the Niger. It should be cut down 
one half. Even then it would be half as long again as 
the officials' term of service. Professors of tropical 
medicine and magnates at home may say what they like 
about the improvement of health in the large European 
settlements. The towns are one thing. The " bush " 
is quite another. Speaking generally, the climate of 
Nigeria, and the conditions under which four-fifths of 
white humanity have to live are such as combine, even 
in favourable circumstances, to impose the severest 
strain, both physical and mental, upon all but a select 
few. At the end of a year's continuous residence, the 
strain begins to make itself felt in a multiplicity of ways. 
Not to acknowledge it, and not to make provision for it, 
is, on the part of an employer, penny wise and pound 
foolish — ^to put the matter on the lowest ground. 

At Idah we leave Southern Nigeria. That bold bluff 

96 



NATURAL HIGHWAY TO THE UPLANDS 

of red sandstone crowned with grey-trunked baobabs 
and nodding palms — black with roosting and repulsive 
vultures — which overhangs the river at this point, stands 
out at the dying of the day, a sentinel pointing to the 
north. Henceforth the appearance of the country under- 
goes a remarkable transformation, more and more accen- 
tuated with every hour's steaming. High valleys, 
slopes and tablelands ; a sparser vegetation ; masses 
of granite or red sandstone vomited promiscuously from 
broken, arid plains and taking on fantastic shapes ; in 
the distance, mountain ranges and solitary rounded 
eminences — on our right. King William's range rising to 
1200 feet, on our left. Mounts Jervis, Erskine, Soraxte, 
and many others, varying from 400 to 1000 feet. The 
river curves, winds and narrows, obstructed here and 
there by dangerous boulders, which the falling waters 
bring into view. More substantial, better-thatched huts 
appear upon the banks, and around them an increasing 
number of robed Africans. Plantations of yams, and 
guinea corn set out on parallel, raised ridges, attest a 
higher skill in cultivation. Cattle are seen cropping the 
green stuffs near the water's edge, and canoes pass 
bearing cattle, sheep and goats to some neighbouring 
market. We enter the spreading domain of Mohammedan 
civilization, and before long we shall find ourselves in 
a new world, as our gallant little vessel, none the worse 
for a narrowly averted collision and grounding on a 
sandbank or two, casts anchor at Lokoja. Here beneath 
the wooded heights of Mount Patte the wonderful pro- 
spect afforded by the junction of the Niger and Benue 
unfolds itself, and presently we shall mingle with robed 
and turbaned African humanity, come from immense 
distances to this great market of the middle Niger. 
The mangroves of the Delta, the awesome grandeur of 
the forests, these are left far behind. We have entered 
the uplands of the North. 

97 H 



CHAPTER II 

NORTHERN NIGERIA PRIOR TO THE BRITISH OCCUPATION 

The political events of which Northern Nigeria was the 
scene last century are well known, but a brief recapitula- 
tion of them is necessary by way of introduction to the 
study of its present conditions, the life of its people, and 
the accomplishments and problems of the British Ad- 
ministration. 

In the opening years of the nineteenth century, what 
is now Northern Nigeria consisted of the shattered 
remnants of the once famous Bornu Empire ; of seven 
independent states more or less (generally less) con- 
trolled by chieftains of the remarkable so-called " Hausa " 
race, invaders of a thousand years before " out of the 
East," and of the aboriginal inhabitants whose origin 
is lost in the mists of antiquity. Scattered throughout 
the region and constantly shifting their habitat in re- 
sponse to the necessities of their calling, were tribes 
of light-coloured straight-haired people, Fulani, nomadic 
herdsmen and shepherds. From the ranks of these people, 
spread over West Africa from the Senegal to the Chad, 
had sprung from time to time political leaders, divines 
and men of letters who had played a conspicuous part 
in the history of the old Niger civilizations. The Hausa 
Chieftains had established a nominal authority over a 
wide expanse of territory and were constantly at war 
with the aborigines on their borders. It was not, 
however, for warlike feats, but for their commerce, 

98 



PRIOR TO THE BRITISH OCCUPATION 

farming, cotton and leather industry ; for the spread of 
their language ; for the great centres of human activity 
they had formed and for the fertility and prosperity of 
the land which they had made their home, that the 
Hausas were justly renowned all over Western and 
Northern Africa. They had evolved no great imperial 
dominion whose various parts acknowledged a central 
Head, such, alternately, as Melle, Ghanata, Kanem and 
Bornu ; but they had leavened with their intelligence 
and fertilised with their industrial achievements some of 
the naturally richest areas of tropical West Africa, and 
they had earned for themselves in these respects a 
widespread fame. 

It was at this period that a learned Fulani, Othman 
Fodio, fell foul of the chieftain ruling over the most 
ancient and aristocratic of the Hausa States, Gober. 
The latter, fearing for his authority, ordered all the 
Fulani in his country to be slaughtered, with the result 
that Othman found himself at the head of a numerous 
following. Emerging successfully from the struggle, 
Othman preached a jihad, confided sacred standards 
to his worthiest captains and despatched them far and 
wide. The Hausa Chieftains were successively over- 
thrown and replaced by Fulani, and regions unassimilated 
previously by the Hausas were occupied. Othman' s 
warriors even crossed the Niger and invaded Yorubaland, 
a large part of which they conquered and retained 
(Ilorin), the forest belt, Yoruba resistance within it, and, 
probably, the tsetse fly proving an insurmountable 
barrier to further progress southwards. Down the Niger 
they advanced no further than the neighbourhood of 
Lokoja. Othman adopted the title of Sarikin mussulmi, 
and during his life and that of his son Bello, Hausaland 
experienced for the first time the grip of a central, 
directing power. It is doubtful, however, if this change 
in their rulers had much effect upon the mass of the 

99 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

population, to whom dynastic convulsions mean very 
little, and it is noteworthy that the Fulani conquerors 
possessed sufficient statecraft to interfere but slightly 
with the complicated and efficient system of administra- 
tion and of taxation which the Hausas had introduced. 
They took over the government of the towns from the 
Hausas, the people in many instances assisting and 
welcoming them. The general condition of the country 
remained pretty much what it had been. Moreover — 
and this fact is significant in connection with the argu- 
ments I shall presently adduce as regards the inspiring 
motive of the Fulani uprising — ^such of the old Hausa 
families who by their learning and piety had become 
invested with a special public sanctity were not generally 
molested by the conquering Fulani. Thus the Kauru, 
Kajura and Fatika families of Zaria, which had given 
birth to a long line of Mallams, were preserved in all 
their authority and dignity by Othman and his suc- 
cessors. 

A period of comparative political quiet ensued. 
Othman issued regulations, and caused them to be 
strictly enforced, inflicting the severest punishments upon 
robbers and evil-doers generally. A recrudescence of 
spiritual influence and of letters everywhere manifested 
itself. Learned men flocked to Sokoto, where Othman 
had built his capital, from West and North Africa. The 
trans-desert trade revived. Security was so well estab- 
lished that Clapperton, who visited the country during 
Bello's reign, records the common saying of the time that 
a woman could pass unmolested through the land, even 
if she carried a casket of gold upon her head. With the 
death of Bello the influence of the central power, enor- 
mously difficult to maintain in any case owing to the 
greatness of the area and the absence of ways of com- 
munication, declined. Administrative decay gradually 
set in and extended with the years. Little by little the 

100 



PRIOR TO THE BRITISH OCCUPATION 

authority of the Emir of Sokoto was openly questioned, 
in all save spiritual matters. Allegiance slackened. 
Emirs quarrelled amongst themselves. This or that chief 
acted on his own responsibility in political affairs affecting 
the general weal, or entirely broke away from control. 
The roads became infested with bands of highwaymen 
whose proceedings differed in no way from the banditti 
of feudal Europe. Rebellious chieftains formed robber 
strongholds. Military operations degenerated into mere 
raiding for the capture and sale of prisoners of war to 
replenish revenues from ordinary taxation which the 
disturbed state of the country was causing to decrease. 

There has probably been a natural tendency in recent 
years to exaggerate the aggregate effect for evil upon 
the country which accompanied the weakening of the 
Fulani dynasty. There is no proof that the state of 
affairs was worse than what had obtained previous to 
Othman's jihad. It could hardly have been worse than 
the condition of Western Europe at sundry stages in its 
history, when the weakness of the paramount authority 
and the foraging and strife of rival Barons combined to 
desolate the homesteads of the people and lay waste the 
country side. Some notion of parallels in approaching 
the events of West African history is very desirable, 
but not often conspicuous. But there can be no doubt 
— the evidence of one's own eyes in ruined villages and 
once cultivated areas " gone to bush " is conclusive — 
that when the alien Britisher arrived upon the scene as 
a reforming political force. Northern Nigeria was once 
more urgently in need of a power sufficiently strong to 
restore order. Such was the condition of the Hausa 
States. In Bornu matters had gone from disorder to 
chaos, culminating in the final tragedy of Rabeh's 
incursion, the slaughter of the Shehu and the sack of Kuka, 
the capital. 

There is no need here to describe the events which 

lOI 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

led to the British occupation, or to narrate the circum- 
stances attending it. We have replaced the Fulani in 
supreme control of the destinies of Northern Nigeria. 
We are there to stay.- How are we carrying out our 
self-imposed mission ? What are the problems with 
which we have to grapple ? These are the questions to 
examine. But before doing so, let us first see what 
manner of people they are over whom we rule henceforth 
as over-lords. What is their mode of life, their principal 
occupation, their character, and the material and spiritual 
influences which direct their outlook and mould their 
existence ? 



102 



CHAPTER III 

THE INDIGENOUS CIVILIZATION OF THE NORTH 

An attempted reconstruction of the prehistoric period 
— considered locally — of that portion of Western Central 
Africa, now known as Northern Nigeria, would take up 
many chapters, and would be largely founded upon 
conjecture. It suffices to say that in the course of ages, 
through the influences of Moorish, Semitic, and probably 
pre-Semitic Egyptian culture, fused in later times with 
Mohammedan law, learning and religion, there has been 
evolved in this region a civilization combining a curious 
mixture of Africa and the East, to which no other part 
of the tropical or sub-tropical continent offers even a 
remote parallel. And this is the more remarkable since 
these territories have been separated from the east 
by inhospitable, mainly waterless stretches, and from the 
north by vast and desolate sandy wastes; while south- 
wards the forest and the swamp cut them off from all 
communication with the outer world by sea. The 
peoples responsible for the creation of this civilization 
did not acquire the art of building in stone, but, at a 
cost of labour and of time which must have been gigantic 
(slave-labour, of course, such as built the pyramids) 
they raised great cities of sun-dried clay, encompassing 
them and a considerable area around, for purposes of 
cultivation and food-supply, with mighty walls. These 
walls, from twenty to fifty feet high and from twenty to 
forty feet thick at the base, in the case of the larger 

103 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

cities, they furnished with ponderous and deep towered 
entrances, protecting the gates with crenellated loop- 
holes and digging deep moats outside. They learned 
to smelt iron and tin ; to tan and fabricate many 
leather articles durable and tasteful in design ; to 
grow cotton and fashion it into cloth unrivalled for 
excellence and beauty in all Africa ; to work in silver 
and in brass ; to dye in indigo and the colouring juice of 
other plants ; to develop a system of agriculture in- 
cluding (in certain provinces) irrigated farming, which, 
in its highest forms, has surprised even experts from 
Europe ; to build up a great trade whose ramifications 
extend throughout the whole western portion of the 
continent ; to accumulate libraries of Arabic literature, 
to compile local histories and poems, and, in a measure, 
to become centres for the propagation of intellectual 
thought. 

That is the condition in which Leo Africanus found 
them in the sixteenth century, when he first revealed 
their existence to an incredulous and largely unlettered 
Western world ; in which the pioneer explorers of the 
nineteenth century found them ; in which the political 
agents of Great Britain found them ten years ago when 
destiny drove her to establish her supremacy in the 
country. That is the condition in which they are to-day 
in this difficult transition stage when the mechanical 
engines of modern progress, the feverish economic 
activity of the Western world, the invading rattle of 
another civilization made up of widely differing ideals, 
modes of thought, and aims, assailed them. 

Will the irresistible might wielded by the new forces 
be wisely exercised in the future ? Will those who, in 
the ultimate resort, direct it, abide by the experience 
and the advice of the small but splendid band of men 
whose herculean and whole-hearted labours have in- 
scribed on the roll of British history an achievement, 

104 







IRON-SMELTHRS. 




Fl'LANI CATTLE, 



Sa- f- 29. 



INDIGENOUS CIVILIZATION OF THE NORTH 

not of conquest, but of constructive statesmanship of 
just and sober guidance nowhere exceeded in our manage- 
ment of tropical dependencies ? Will they be brought to 
understand all that is excellent and of good repute in 
this indigenous civilization ; to realize the necessity of 
preserving its structural foundations, of honouring its 
organic institutions, of protecting and strengthening its 
spiritual agencies ? Will they have the patience to move 
slowly ; the sympathy to appreciate the period of strain 
and stress which these revolutionary influences must 
bring with them ; the perception to recognize what 
elements of greatness and of far-reaching promise this 
indigenous civilization contains ? Or will they, pushed 
by other counsellors, incline to go too fast both politically 
and econoinically, impatiently brushing aside immemorial 
ceremonies and customs, or permitting them to be 
assaulted by selfish interests on the one hand and short- 
sighted zeal on the other ? Will they forget, amid the 
clamorous calls of " progress " and " enlightenment " 
that their own proclaimed high purpose (nobly accom- 
plished by their representatives) of staying the ravages 
of internal warfare and healing open wounds will be 
shamed in the result if, through their instrumentality, 
the seeds of deeper, deadlier ills are sown which would 
eat away this fine material, destroy the lofty courtesies, 
the culture and the healthy industrial life of this land, 
converting its peoples into a troubled, shiftless mass, 
hirelings, bereft of economic independence and having 
lost all sense of national vitality ? Thoughts such as 
these must needs crowd upon the traveller through these 
vast spaces and populous centres as he watches the iron 
horse pursue its irrevocable advance towards the great 
Hausa cities of the plains, as he hears the increasing calls 
from the newly opened tin mines for labour, from the 
Lancashire cotton-spinner for cotton and markets ; as 
he takes cognisance of the suggestions already being made 

105 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

to break the spirit of the new and admirable land-law, 
and of the efforts to introduce a militant Christian pro- 
paganda ; as he listens in certain quarters to the loose 
talk about the " shibboleths " and " absurdities " of 
indigenous forms and ceremonies, the cumbrousness of 
native laws and etiquette. 



106 



CHAPTER IV 

THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE — THE LONG-DISTANCE TRADER 

A BROAD, sandy road, piercing a belt of shea trees, 
gnarled and twisted, their bark figured like the markings 
of a crocodile's back, from which peculiarity you can 
distinguish the true shea from the so-called " false " 
shea, or African oak. From the burnt grasses, golden 
flowers destitute of leaf companionship peep timidly forth 
as though fearful of such uncongenial surroundings. The 
heat rays quiver over the thirsty soil, for it is Christmas 
time and no rain has fallen for nigh upon four months. 
On the summit of a blackened sapling, exquisite in its 
panoply of azure blue and pinkey-buff, a bird of the size 
of our English jay but afflicted with a name so common- 
place that to mention it in connection with so glorious 
a visitant would be cruel, perches motionless, its long 
graceful tail feathers waving ever so slightly in the still 
air. The sun beats downward shrewdly, and combined 
with the gentle amble of the patient beast beneath you, 
induces drowsiness. You find yourself nodding in the 
saddle until the loosening grip of thighs jerks the rider 
once more into sentiency. It is hot, dreamily, lethargi- 
cally hot. All the world seems comatose, the unfolding 
panorama unreal as if seen through a fog of visionary 
reverie. But there is nothing fanciful about the rapidly 
approaching cloud of dust ahead, which emits a swelling 
murmur of confused sound. It takes shape and sub- 
stance, and for the next half-hour or so, drowsiness and 

107 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

heat are alike forgotten in the contemplation of a strange 
medley of men and animals. Droves of cattle, among 
them the monstrous horned oxen from the borders of 
Lake Chad, magnificent beasts, white or black for the 
most part. Flocks of Roman-nosed, short-haired, vacant- 
eyed sheep — white with black patches. Tiny, active, 
bright brown goats skipping along in joyful ignorance of 
impending fate. Pack-bullocks, loaded with potash, 
cloth, hides and dried tobacco leaves, culinary utensils, 
and all manner of articles wrapped in skins or in octagon- 
shaped baskets made of parchment, tight drawn in a 
wicker framework, which later — on the return journey — 
will be packed with kolas carefully covered with leaves. 
A few camels, skinny and patchy, and much out at elbows 
so to speak, similarly burdened. The drivers move 
among their beasts. Keeping in the rear, with lengthy 
staves outstretched over the animal's back, they control 
any tendency to straggle across the road. Tall spare 
men, for the most part, these drivers, small-boned, tough 
and sinewy. Hausas mainly, good-featured, not un- 
frequently bearded men, often possessed of strikingly 
handsome profiles, with clean-shaven heads and keen 
cheerful looks. But many Tuaregs are here also from 
the far-distant north, even beyond the Nigerian border ; 
their fierce eyes gleaming above the black veil drawn 
across the face, covering the head and falling upon the 
robe beneath, once white, now stained and rent by many 
weeks of travel. From the shoulders of these hang 
formidable, cross-handled swords in red-leather tasselled 
scabbards. Nor are the Hausas always innocent of 
arms, generally a sword. But here is a professional 
hunter who has joined the party. You can tell him from 
his bow held in the right hand and the quiver of reed- 
arrows barbed — and, maybe, poisoned — slung across his 
back. The legs of the men are bare to the knees, and 
much-worn sandals cover their feet. Some carry loads 

io8 



.amoii 



^t 



■•*-^f 



X 






o . 






• ,1 .», 













THE LONG-DISTANCE TRADER 

of merchandise, food and water-gourds ; others have 
their belongings securely fastened on bullock or donkey. 
Women, too, numbers of them, splendid of form and car- 
riage, one or both arms uplifted, balancing upon the 
carrying pad {gammo) a towering load of multitudinous 
contents neatly held together in a string bag. Their 
raiment is the raiment of antiquity, save that it has fewer 
folds, the outer gown, commonly blue in colour, reaching 
to just below the knees, the bosom not generally exposed, 
at least in youth, and where not so intended, gravely 
covered as the alien rides by ; neck, wrists and ankles 
frequently garnished with silver ornaments . Many women 
bear in addition to the load upon the head, a baby on 
the back, its body hidden in the outer robe, its shiny 
shaven head emerging above, sometimes resting against 
the soft and ample maternal shoulders, sometimes 
wobbling from side to side in slumber, at the imminent 
risk, but for inherited robustness in that region, of 
spinal dislocation. Children of all ages, the elders 
doing their share in porterage, younger ones held 
by the hand (nothing can be more charming than the 
sight of a youthful Nigerian mother gladsome of face 
and form teaching the young idea the mysteries of head- 
carriage !). Two tired mites are mounted upon a patient 
ox, the father walking behind. A sturdy middle-aged 
Hausa carries one child on his shoulders, grasps another 
by the wrist, supporting his load with his free hand. A 
gay, dusty crowd, weary and footsore, no doubt, tramp- 
ing twenty miles in a day carrying anything from forty to 
one hundred pounds ; but, with such consciousness of 
freedom, such independence of gait and bearing ! The 
mind flies back to those staggering lines of broken 
humanity, flotsam and jetsam of our great cities, products 
of our " superior " civilization, dragging themselves 
along the Herefordshire lanes in the hop-picking season ! 
What a contrast ! And so the trading caravan, bound for 

109 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the markets of the south, for Lokoja or Bida — it may well 
be, for some of its units, Ibadan or Lagos — passes onwards, 
wrapped in its own dust, which, presently, closes in and 
hides it from sight. 

Throughout the dry season the trade routes are 
covered with such caravans and with countless pedestrians 
in sniall groups or in twos or threes — I am told by men 
who have lived here for years and by the natives them- 
selves, that while highway robbery is not unknown, 
a woman, even unattended (and I saw many such) is 
invariably safe from molestation — petty traders and 
itinerant merchants, some coming north loaded with 
kolas, salt and cloth, others going south with butchers' 
provender, potash, cloth, grass, and leather- ware, etc., 
witness to the intensive internal commerce which for 
centuries upon centuries has rolled up and down the 
highways of Nigeria. 



no 




1>-M> 



CHAPTER V 

THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE — THE AGRICULTURIST 

Allahu Akhar ! Allahu Akbar ! The sonorous tones 
perforate the mists of sleep, heralding the coming of the 
dawn, Ashadu Allah, ila-allahu, ila-allahu ! Insistent, 
reverberating through the still, cold air — the night and 
first hours of the day in these latitudes are often very 
cold, A pause. Then the unseen voice is again raised, 
seeming to gather unto itself a passionate appeal as 
the words of the prayer flow more rapidly. Ashadu an 
Muhammad rasul ilahi ! Haya-al essalatu ! Haya al el 
falahi ! Kad Kamet essalatu ! Another pause. The 
myriad stars still shine in the deep purple panoply of 
the heavens, but their brilliancy grows dimmer. The 
atmosphere seems infused with a tense expectancy. 
Allahu Akbar ! Allahu Akbar ! La illaha, ila- Allahu, 
ila-Allahu. Muhammad Rasul ilahi. Salallah aleiheiu, 
. . . Wassalama. The tones rise triumphant and die 
away in grave cadence. It thrills inexpressibly does 
this salute to the omnipotent Creator ringing out over 
every town and village in the Moslem Hausa States, 
" God the Greatest ! There is no God but the God ! " 
And that closing, " Peace ! " It has in it reality. Surely 
it is a good thing and not a bad thing that African man 
should be reminded as he quits his couch, and as he 
returns to it, of an all-presiding, all-pervading, all-com- 
prehending Deity ? His fashion may not be our fashion. 
What of that ? How far are we here from the narrow 

III 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

cry of the " Moslem peril " ! Whom does this call to 
. God imperil ? The people who respond to it and pro- 
strate themselves in the dust at its appeal ? Let us be 
quite sure that our own salvation is secured by our own 
methods, that the masses of our own people are as vividly 
conscious of the Omnipotent, as free and happy in their 
lives, as these Nigerian folk, ere we venture to disturb 
the solemn acknowledgment and petition that peal forth 
into the dusk of the Nigerian morn. 

And now a faint amber flush appears in the eastern 
sky. It is the signal for many sounds. A hum of many 
human bees, the crowing of countless roosters, the 
barking of lean and yellow " pye " dogs, the braying 
of the donkey and the neigh of his nobler relative, the 
bleating of sheep and the lowing of cattle. The scent 
of burning wood assails the nostrils with redolent perfume. 
The white tick-birds, which have passed the night close- 
packed on the fronds of the tall fan-palms, rustle their 
feathers and prepare, in company with their scraggy- 
necked scavenging colleagues the vultures, for the 
useful if unedifying business of the day. Nigerian life 
begins, and what a busy intensive life it is ! From 
sunrise to sunset, save for a couple of hours in the heat of 
the day, every one appears to have his hands full. Soon 
all will be at work. The men driving the animals to 
pasture, or hoeing in the fields, or busy at the forge, or 
dye-pit or loom ; or making ready to sally forth to the 
nearest market with the products of the local industry. 
The women cooking the breakfast, or picking or spinning 
cotton, or attending to the younger children, or pounding 
corn in large and solid wooden mortars, pulping the 
grain with pestles — ^long staves, clubbed at either end — 
grasped now in one hand, now in the other, the whole 
body swinging with the stroke as it descends, and, 
perhaps, a baby at the back, swinging with it ; or 
separating on flat slabs of stone the seed from the cotton 

112 



THE AGRICULTURIST 

lint picked the previous day. This is a people of agri- 
culturists, for among them agriculture is at once life's 
necessity and its most important occupation. The sowing 
and reaping, and the intermediate seasons bring with 
them their several tasks. The ground must be cleared 
and hoed, and the sowing of the staple crops concluded 
before the early rains in May, which will cover the land 
with a sheet of tender green shoots of guinea-corn, maize, 
and millet, and, more rarely, wheat. When these crops 
have ripened, the heads of the grain will be cut off, the 
bulk of them either marketed or stored — spread out 
upon the thatch-roofed houses to dry, sometimes piled 
up in a huge circle upon a cleared, dry space — in granaries 
of clay or thatch, according to the local idea ; others 
set aside for next year's seeds. The stalks, ten to fifteen 
feet in height, will be carefully gathered and stacked for 
fencing purposes. Nothing that nature provides or man 
produces is wasted in this country. Nature is, in general, 
kind. It has blessed man with a generally fertile and 
rapidly recuperative soil, provided also that in the more 
barren, mountainous regions, where ordinary processes 
would be insufficient, millions of earth-worms shall 
annually fling their casts of virgin sub-soil upon the sun- 
baked surface. And man himself, in perennial contact 
with Nature, has learned to read and retain many of her 
secrets which his civilized brother has forgotten. One 
tree grows gourds with neck and all complete, which 
need but to be plucked, emptied and dried to make 
first-rate water-bottles. A vigorous ground creeper yields 
enormous pumpkin-shaped fruit whose contents afford a 
succulent potage, while its thick shell scraped and dried 
furnishes plates, bowls, pots, and dishes of every size, 
and put to a hundred uses : ornaments, too, when man 
has grafted his art upon its surface with dyes and carved 
patterns. A bush yields a substantial pod which when 
ready to burst and scatter its seeds is found to contain 

113 I 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

a fibrous substance which resembles — and may be identical 
with, I am not botanist enough to tell — ^the loofah of 
commerce, and is put to the same uses. From the seeds 
of the beautiful locust-bean tree {dorowa), whose gorgeous 
crimson blooms form so notable a feature of the scenery 
in the flowering season, soup is made, while the casing 
of the bean affords a singularly enduring varnish. The 
fruit of the invaluable Kadenia or shea tree is used for 
food, for oil, and medicinally. The bees receive par- 
ticular attention for their honey and their wax, the latter 
utilized in sundry ways from ornamenting Korans down 
to the manufacture of candles. As many as a dozen 
oblong, mud-lined, wicker hives closed at one end, the 
other having a small aperture, may sometimes be seen 
in a single tree. Before harvest time has dawned and 
with the harvesting, the secondary crops come in for 
attention. Cassava and cotton, indigo and sugar-cane, 
sweet potatoes and tobacco, onions and ground-nuts, 
beans and pepper, yams and rice, according to the 
locality and suitability of the soil. The farmers of a 
moist district will concentrate on the sugar-cane — its 
silvery, tufted, feathery crowns waving in the breeze 
are always a delight : of a dry, on ground-nuts : those 
enjoying a rich loam on cotton, and so on. While the 
staple crops represent the imperious necessity of life — 
food, the profits from the secondary crops are expended 
in the purchase of clothing, salt and tools, the payment 
of taxes, the entertainment of friends and chance ac- 
quaintances (a generous hospitality characterizes this 
patriarchal society), and the purchase of luxuries, kolas, 
tobacco, ornaments for wives and children. It is a 
revelation to see the cotton-fields, the plants in raised 
rows three feet apart, the land having in many cases 
been precedently enriched by a catch-crop of beans, 
whose withering stems (where not removed for fodder, 
or hoed in as manure) are observable between the healthy 

114 



THE AGRICULTURIST 

shrubs, often four or five feet in height, thickly covered 
with yellow flowers or snowy bolls of white, bursting 
from the split pod. The fields themselves are protected 
from incursions of sheep and goats by tall neat fencing 
of guinea-corn stalks, or reeds, kept in place by native 
rope of uncommon strength. Many cassava fields, the 
root of this plant furnishing an invaluable diet, being 
indeed, one of the staples of the more southerly regions, 
are similarly fenced. Equally astonishing are the irri- 
gated farms which you meet with on the banks of the 
water-courses. The plots are marked out with the 
mathematical precision of squares on a chess-board, 
divided by ridges with frequent gaps permitting of a free 
influx of water from the central channel, at the opening 
of which, fixed in a raised platform, a long pole with a 
calabash tied on the end of it, is lowered into the 
water and its contents afterwards poured into the trench. 
Conditions differ of course according to locality, and the 
technique and industry displayed by the farmers of one 
district vary a good deal from the next. In the northern 
part of Zaria and in Kano the science of agriculture has 
attained remarkable development. There is little we can 
teach the Kano farmer. There is much we can learn 
from him. Rotation of crops and green manuring are 
thoroughly understood, and I have frequently noticed 
in the neighbourhood of some village small heaps of ashes 
and dry animal manure deposited at intervals along the 
crest of cultivated ridges which the rains will presently 
wash into the waiting earth. In fact, every scrap of 
fertilizing substance is husbanded by this expert and 
industrious agricultural people. Instead of wasting money 
with the deluded notion of " teaching modern methods " 
to the Northern Nigerian farmer, we should be better 
employed in endeavouring to find an answer to the 
puzzling question of how it is that land which for cen- 
turies has been yielding enormous crops of grain, which 

115 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

in the spring is one carpet of green, and in November 
one huge cornfield " white unto harvest," can continue 
doing so. What is wanted is an, expert agriculturist 
who will start out not to teach but to learn ; who will 
study for a period of say five years the highly complicated 
and scientific methods of native agriculture, and base 
possible improvements and suggestions, maybe, for 
labour-saving appliances, upon real knowledge. 

Kano is, of course, the most fertile province of the 
Protectorate, but this general description of agricultural 
Nigeria does not only apply to Kano Province. I saw 
nothing finer in the way of deep cultivation (for yams and 
guinea-corn chiefly) than among the Bauchi pagans. 
The pagan Gwarri of the Niger Province have for ages 
past grown abundant crops in terraces up their mountain- 
sides whither they sought refuge from Hausa and Fulani 
raids. The soil around Sokoto, where the advancing 
Sahara trenches upon the fertile belt, may look arid 
and incapable of sustaining annual crops, yet every year 
it blossoms like a rose. But the result means and needs 
inherited lore and sustained and strenuous labour. 
Prom the early rains until harvest time a prolific weed- 
growth has continuously to be fought. Insect pests, 
though not conspicuously numerous in most years, 
nevertheless exist, amongst them the locusts, which 
sometimes cover the heavens with their flight ; the cater- 
pillar, which eats the corn in its early youth ; the blight 
(daraba), which attacks the ripening ear. In some 
districts not so favoured, the soil being of compact clay 
with a thin coating of humus, intensive cultivation has 
proved exhausting, and it is a study to note how every 
ounce of humus is tended with religious care. Very 
hard work at the right time is the secret of success for the 
Nigerian agriculturist. It is httle short of marvellous 
Ihat with all he has to do he somehow manages to build 
our railways and our roads. Indeed, if that phenomenon 

ii6 




■mmmm 



m'^^M 



^i^'miUv^ 



i;f ■l■■^^< 














- \ji^^in^ 



THE . AGRICULTURIST 

has in many respects its satisfactory, it has also its 
sombre, social side. One can but hope that the former 
may outweigh the latter as the country gradually settles 
down after the severe demands placed upon it these last 
few years. 

Truly a wonderful country, and a wonderful people, 
a people who with fifty years' peace will double its 
numbers, a people whom it is our paramount duty to 
secure for ever in the undisturbed occupation and en- 
joyment of the land, precluding the up-growth of a middle- 
man class of landlord from which the native system is 
free, and being so free need never be saddled with. 



117 



CHAPTER VI 

THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE — THE HERDSMAN AND THE 

ARTISAN 

The word " peasant " as applied to the Fulani is, no 
doubt, a misnomer. I employ it merely to distinguish 
the herdsmen from the caste of statesmen and governors, 
evolved in Nigeria by the genius of Othman Fodio, but, 
as their recorded history throughout Western Africa 
shows, inherent in this mysterious race whose moral 
characteristics have persisted through all degrees of 
admixture with the negro. The Fulani peasant is but 
rarely an agriculturist in Nigeria, but he plays an im- 
portant, if indirect, part in the agriculture of the Hausa 
provinces. Over the face of the land he wanders with 
his great herds — which may number upwards of several 
thousand head in one herd — of beautiful hump-backed 
cattle, mostly white, ever seeking " pastures new." 
Speaking under correction, in Borgu only does his settle- 
ment partake of permanency. Elsewhere he is a wan- 
derer. One month a given district may be full of Fulani 
camps, come from where his fellow-man has but the 
vaguest of notions. The next, not a single Fulani will 
be seen within it. But they return, as a rule, the ensuing 
year to their old haunts. To the Hausa farmer the 
M'BororojioT " Cow-Fulani" are an invaluable asset, and 
he enters into regular contracts with them for turning 
their cattle on to his fields ; and he buys milk from them. 
I struck several of their encampments, at distances 

ii8 




A FLXANI GIRL. 



THE HERDSMAN AND THE ARTISAN 

hundreds of miles apart. The first, at the crossing 
of the Bako, between Badeggi and Bida, was in charge 
of a patriarch who might have stepped out of the book 
of Genesis : a Semite every inch of him : spare of form, 
emaciated in feature, with high cheek-bones, hawk-Uke 
nose, flashing, crafty eyes, a long white beard and a 
bronzed skin without a trace of black blood. 

There is no more interesting sight in Nigeria than a 
Fulani encampment. It is usually pitched well away 
from the beaten track, albeit within convenient distance 
of a village. You rub your eyes and wonder if you can 
really be in the heart of the Dark Continent, as these 
gracefully built, pale copper-coloured men and women — 
one may say of some of the young girls with the sun 
shining on their velvety skins, almost golden coloured — 
appear tending their herds and flocks, or standing and 
sitting at the entrance to their temporary shelters. Even 
the latter differ frequently from the African hut, resembling 
in shape the wigwam of the North American Indian. As 
for the people themselves, you are aware of an indefinable 
sentiment of affinity in dealing with them. They are 
a white, not a black race. 

I have discussed their origin and West African history 
elsewhere,* and will only say here that delicacy of 
form, refinement of contour and simple dignity of bearing 
distinguish this strange people, just as the ruling families 
possess the delicacy of brain and subtlety of intellect 
which impress their British over-lords. A fact worth 
recording, perhaps, is that while the Hausa woman 
spins and the Hausa man weaves cotton, the Fulani 
woman does both the spinning and the weaving. 

If the agricultural life of the Northern Nigerian 
peoples is a full one, the industrial life, especially in the 
northern provinces of the Protectorate, is equally so. 
It is an extraordinarily self-sufficing country at present, 

* " Affairs of West Africa." Heinemann, 1902. 
119 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

and the peasant-cultivator and artisan are inter- 
dependent, the latter supplying the domestic wants and 
making the requisite implements for the former. The 
variety of trades may be estimated from the old Hausa 
system of taxation. This system the Fulani adopted, 
modifying it slightly here and there by enforcing closer 
adherence to the Koranic law, and we are modifying it 
still further by a gradual process tending to merge 
multiple imposts under two or three main heads, with 
the idea of establishing a more equitable re-adjustment 
of burdens and to ensure greater simplicity in assessment. 
The Hausa system provided that taxes should be levied 
upon basket and mat-makers, makers of plant for cotton- 
spinners, bamboo door-makers, carpenters, dyers, black- 
smiths and whitesmiths, as well as upon bee-keepers, 
hunters, trappers and butchers. Exemption from taxes 
was granted to shoe-makers, tailors, weavers, tanners, 
potters, and makers of indigo ; but market taxes were 
imposed upon corn measurers, brokers, sellers of salt, 
tobacco, kolas, and ironstone. 

The chief agricultural implement is the Hausa hoe, 
the galma, a curious but efficient instrument, which 
simultaneously digs and breaks up the soil and is said 
to be of great antiquity, but which is easier to draw than 
to describe. There is also in daily use among the Hausas 
a smaller, simpler hoe and a grass-cutter, while the pagan 
favours a much heavier and more formidable-looking 
tool. This pagan hoe somewhat resembles our English 
spade, but is wielded in quite different fashion. Iron 
drills, rough hammers and axes, nails, horseshoes, stirrup- 
irons and bits are included among the ordinary forms of 
the blacksmith's art. Iron-stone is common in many 
parts of the country and is extensively worked, furnaces 
being met with in every district where the use of the 
metal is locally in vogue. It is to be hoped that " Civi- 
lization " will not seek to stamp out this native industry 

120 



THE HERDSMAN AND THE ARTISAN 

as the tin-miners have done their best — and, unless 
the promise made to the smelters of Liruei-n-Kano by 
Sir H. Hesketh Bell is not speedily carried out, but 
too successfully — ^to crush the interesting tin-smelting 
industry. The history of native tin smelting in Nigeria 
furnishes a remarkable proof of the capacity of the 
Nigerian native, but is too long to set forth here in 
detail. Suffice it to say that for a hundred years, a 
certain ruling family with numerous branches, has 
succeeded in turning out a singularly pure form of the 
white metal whose sale as an article of trade brought 
prosperity to the countryside. When I left the tin 
district, owing to unjust and stupidly selfish interference 
with immemorial rights, the native furnaces had been 
closed for nine months and poverty was beginning to 
replace comparative affluence. 

Hoe-handles, mortars, pestles, beds, doors, gins, 
spindles, bobbins, looms, shuttles, saddles, riding-boots, 
sandals, slippers, bridles, scissors, razors, rope, fishing- 
nets, earthenware cooking-pots, lamps, water-bottles 
and pipes are among the innumerable articles turned out 
by the artisan in Northern Nigeria. Indigo dye-pits are 
to be found in many towns, but the great tanning centre 
is Kano. Cloth-beating is a recognized branch of the 
former industry. After removal from the circular pits 
sunk d fleuv de terre, the clothes are hung up to dry and 
then handed over to the beater. In a dark and spacious 
hut perspiring men kneel in rows facing one another on 
either side of a huge log of wood, stained black and 
smooth-polished with constant use, upon which the 
cloths are spread and vigorously beaten with rounded 
wooden mallets. Very hard work it is, as I can personally 
testify, having tried my hand at it, much to the enter- 
tainment of the dusky experts. The Kano tanneries 
are in appearance disappointing ; in odours surpassing 
anything that can be imagined. But the product is 

121 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

astonishingly excellent. The completed skins, dyed deep 
red or orange with native dyes, the roots, leaves and bark 
of sundry shrubs and trees being utilized in the many 
processes through which the raw hide passes, are as soft 
to the touch as Russian leather. They are greatly 
appreciated in the Western world, and the trade is a 
rapidly increasing one. 



122 



CHAPTER VII 

THE CITY OF KANO AND ITS MARKET 

You are permanently conscious that this country has a 
history and traditions. Nowhere, perhaps, does the fact 
impress the new-comer more vividly than at Kano. It is 
a wonderful place to find in Central Africa, this native 
city with its great enfolding walls, twelve miles in circum- 
ference, pierced by thirteen deep gateways [ko/as), with 
platform and guardhouses and massive doors heavily 
clamped with iron ; with its written records dating 
back nearly eight hundred years. And although in- 
comparably the most important it is not the oldest 
of these Hausa cities — Katsina, now in the same 
" province," is probably older. When the West-Saxon 
realm fell before the onslaught of the Danes and the 
first Danish King reigned over England, Hausaland was 
conquered by an unknown people from the East, and when 
the prosperity of the English towns was beginning to 
revive under Henry I., Gijimasu, the third King of the 
invading djmasty, was building Kano. When Henry VIII. 
was laying the foundations of personal government, the 
" rich merchants and most civil people " of Kano were 
entertaining Leo Africanus. Three hundred years later 
(1824) Clapperton entered this " great emporium of the 
kingdom of Hausa," which Barth forty years afterwards 
termed the " far-famed entrep6t of Central Africa ; " 
which Lugard was subsequently to describe as exceeding 
anything he had ever seen " or even imagined " in Africa. 

123 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

Tributary now to this, now to the other, evanescent 
African kingdom, frequently at war with its neighbours, 
repeatedly besieged, it has survived every vicissitude. 
Neither the disastrous struggles with Katsina in the 
seventeenth, and with Gober in the eighteenth centuries, 
nor the deposition and defeat of the forty-third (and last) 
King of the original dynasty by the Fulani early in the 
nineteenth century, nor yet the occupation of the country 
by the British seven years ago, have destroyed its influence 
or impaired its commercial prestige — a tribute to the 
staying power and to the sterling qualities of the truly 
remarkable African people whom, in the providence of God, 
it has now fallen upon us to rule. Its market-place, still 
the scene of clamorous activity, continues to attract 
merchants and merchandise from all parts of western 
Central Africa. It still remains the nerve-centre of a 
district whose natural fertility, aided by the labour and 
skill of a hard-working, industrious population, not only 
supports, as it has done for many centuries, a population 
of equal density to the square mile as England boasts, but 
exports large quantities of grain to less-favoured regions ; 
and its looms continue to supply the requirements of an 
immense area ranging from the Chad to Timbuktu and 
the borders of Tripoli, and (in part, at least) southwards 
to the Niger. 

Picturesque by day, with numerous and gaily dressed 
pedestrians and horsemen perambulating its tortuous 
streets, busy crowds around its markets, dye-pits, tanne- 
ries, and looms, Kano is still more so when the moon floods 
its broad open spaces with light and flings strange shadows 
across the sandy thoroughfares where they abut upon the 
dwelling-places of its inhabitants. Then, but for the 
occasional howl of a dog, this city which has endured so 
long and withstood so much lies wrapped in impenetrable 
silence. The ugly sores of Africa — not, assuredly, as ugly 
or as numerous as those of Europe, but more conspicuous 

124 



THE CITY OF KANO AND ITS MARKET 

— are mercifully hidden. No one walks abroad. Yet you 
know as you wander with noiseless footsteps through its 
curves and labyrinths, escaping for once from your in- 
evitable native attendants (delightful people, but sadly 
hampering at times), that behind these thick clay walls 
and closed doors, the mysterious world of Africa is awake 
and stirring, that social world with its primitive impulses, 
but also with its many courtesies and refinements, that 
world of habit and of thought, guarded with jealous 
reticence from the alien, unfathomed and unfathomable 
even by the most experienced of Residents. And, again, 
at sunrise, when from the summit of the minaret outside 
the Emir's residence, the pink flush of dawn steals down 
the sides of the city's guardian hills, Dala and Goron- 
duchi, flickers upon the fronds of the palm trees, and re- 
veals the seemingly interminable vista of houses, mostly 
flat-roofed, but varied here and there by others of humbler 
thatch and conical in shape ; when the blue wreaths of 
smoke from many fires mount perpendicularly into the 
crisp, still air, mingled with the aromatic scent of burning 
wood and a confused murmur of awakening life — then, 
too, the city holds you in the grip of a fascinated interest. 
It is difficult to explain this fascination, for the architec- 
ture of Kano, though imposing in its way, is rude. There 
are no flashing domes and sumptuous buildings as in the 
East ; yet the few who have visited it, and" the handful 
of officers — aU travelled men — who by turn have had 
responsibility for the good order of the Emirate would be 
prepared, I fancy, one and all to confess that not even 
the blunting effects of familiarity can do away with the 
curious influences it exercises. 

A visit to the famous market-place — the Kasua Kurumi 
— which covers a wide expanse, and where anything from 
4000 to 7000 persons may be congregated together, 
according to the day, is a bewildering experience. In this 
tmnultuous sea of humanity, shot with brilliant colours, 

125 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

details are swamped at first in general impressions. You 
are aware of a vast concourse of men and women, cheery- 
faced, closely packed together, clad in robes of many hues 
— ^white and various shades of blue predominating ; of 
tossing arms and turbaned heads ; of lon^ lines of clay- 
built booths where piled-up merchandise awaits the 
customer ; of incessant movement, the strife of many 
tongues, the waft of many scents, mostly the reverse of 
fragrant — over all, blue sky and fierce hot sun. As you 
move along with frequent pauses necessitated by the 
crush, and the eye gets more accustomed to the scene, 
some at least of its component parts stand out more 
clearly from the ever-shifting view, and the extraordinary 
variety of human types and the multiplicity of articles on 
sale is realized. 

The home of the Kanawa (people of Kano), whose 
industry is famed from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, 
one would naturally expect to find their numbers in the 
ascendant. Keen-featured men of business, women with 
elaborate coiffures resembling pictures of old Assyrian 
helmets, their cheeks often disfigured by exaggerated 
" beauty spots " daubed on with lead or antimony. Other 
Hausas, visitors from Katsina, Gober, or Daura, each with 
the distinguishing facial mark of his clan, six strokes with 
a dot for Katsina, two for Daura, and so on. Pale- 
complexioned Fulani from the country, the women wearing 
their straight hair in ringlets, with silver earrings and 
gentle eyes. The Nupe, with his characteristic headgear 
of red, black, and yellow straw. Thick-lipped Kanuris 
from Bornu. Tall, lithe Tuareg from distant Sokoto, or 
Asben. The Arab merchant, arrogant and intriguer, 
making his way through the market to the " Arab 
quarter," a quarter of the city remarkable for its 
Moorish architecture and unpleasantly notorious for its 
smells. 

Each trade has its quarter. Beneath the shelter of 

126 



THE CITY OF KANO AND ITS MARKET 

the booths vendors sit cross-legged, their wares spread out 
before them. Cloths of every hue and texture under the 
sun, it would seem, absorb one whole quarter, and form, 
perhaps, the most important article of sale, although the 
more valuable clothes are seldom seen, for the Kano 
market is essentially a retail one, transactions in objects 
of more costly worth taking place within the shelter of 
private houses. You will see enough in the cloth quarter, 
however, to appreciate the diversity of quality and design, 
from the beautifully embroidered Kano riga (a sort of 
hoodless cloak universally worn by the better classes, 
covering the body from neck to knee) to the common 
shirting of Manchester, the white hullan or gown from 
Bornu, the arigiddi, or woman's cloth from Zaria, the 
faringodo, or plain white cloth from Ilorin, the majai, or 
webbing made by the pagan tribes of Bauchi, and used by 
the Fulani for girths. The products of native looms from 
towns hundreds of miles distant, enjoying special renown 
for some attractive peculiarity, are purchasable here, 
together with the manufactures of Europe. The former 
are almost infinite in diversity, and each has its particular 
uses. Black, white, and blue gowns, brocade, striped 
brocade, striped shirting, white shirting, shirting with a 
red border, white and black checks, drill, red baft, cloths 
for turbans, caps, fezzes, expensively embroidered trousers, 
sleeveless under-vests, velvet — all in endless variety. 

In the leather quarter you will find great quantities 
of saddlery from Tripoli, and also of local manufacture, 
highly ornamented bridles, stirrup-leathers, despatch- 
bags, Korans in leather cases, purses, red slippers, sandals, 
quilted horsecloths, undyed goatskins and cowhides, 
swords in scabbards, many of them admirable in workman- 
ship. An examination of the latter will disclose the 
interesting fact that the blades of the most expensive speci- 
mens bear the Solingen mark, a curious example of the 
conservatism of this interior African trade, for as far back 

127 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

as the middle of the last century Solingen sword blades 
were imported into Kano across the desert. Passing out 
of the leather quarter you will find silver, brass, and tin 
ware ; among the former necklaces and earrings which 
would not disgrace a London jeweller's shop- window, 
ruder bangles and anklets, partly tin, partly silver ; brass 
urns and bowls, and glass bracelets from Bida. Necklaces 
of beads, Venetian and local, of agates imported from 
Tripoli and polished and cut at Bida, of cheap European 
coral, of different kinds of bright-coloured local seeds. 
Rough pottery, but often of elegant design, such, for 
example, as the small lamps used for burning ground-nut 
oil, in the manufacture of which mica enters. 

Sheds and stalls, in addition to the booths, are devoted 
to the sale of numerous merchandise. The store of an 
elderly white-turbaned Hausa contains a mass of rough 
silk mixed up with the cocoons ; these are produced by 
the silkworm, which feeds on the tamarind tree. The 
rigas made from it are very dear, and also very pleasant to 
the touch, resembling in that respect and in colour tussore. 
Here is a stall containing the products of the local smithy, 
stirrup-irons, locks for doors, every kind of agricultural 
implement used by the native farmer, axes, knives, and 
skin-scrapers used in preparing goat and sheep skins for 
export. There a stall filled with native herbs used as 
medicines, from the tafarnua for rheumatism to the karijiji 
for colds, the kula and passakori much used by women 
after child-birth. Much space is taken up by the sellers 
of foodstuffs, mostly vegetable, such as guinea-corn and 
millet in variety, beans, yams, sugar-cane, sweet potatoes 
(in variety), pepper, onions, the fruit of the tamarind, the 
red flowers of the tobacco plant, cassava, and ginger. 

In another direction you will observe on sale European 
salt and native potash in cakes and cones, zana-mats, 
firewood, native rope, roofing, sticks with branches, 
guinea-corn and millet stalks for fencing, native beds, 

128 




ONE OF THE CATE\VA\-S Tc l KANO CITY, SHOWING OULEK U'ALE. 



1^%ril 



,^lf^ 



mim, 






;V / 



>? 






j^\ 








W^-<u 






,V«^' 



ANOTHER OF THE ENTRANXES TO THE CFIA'. 



THE CITY OF KANO AND ITS MARKET 

doors made of palm sticks, baskets, mats in great diversity 
of size and colouring. Round about the booths and sheds 
on every side sit men and women (mostly the latter) selling 
articles of local or European origin ; by their side, and, 
apparently, no more carefully watched than the articles 
themselves, small piles of cowries and sometimes the new 
nickel coinage we have introduced, and threepenny bits 
represent the takings of the day. Among such articles 
are to be observed indigo, antimony, ground-nuts, the 
inevitable kola-nut, shea-butter, spices, cow-dung in small 
packets (very precious), raw cotton, henna {lelli) for stain- 
ing hands or feet, fresh honey, cakes and sweetmeats (of a 
fearful and wonderful composition), native soap from 
Nupe {sabouni), bobbins, shuttles, and other necessities of 
the national, industry, cigarettes, red wool, green wool, 
crochet-thread, water-pots, and sundry cheap trinkets 
from Europe. The butchers' quarter it is best to pass by 
swiftly ; unsavoury in Europe, the flies and tropical sun 
do not improve it in Africa. Long files of cattle, donkeys, 
sheep, and goats can be seen winding their way to the 
cattle market, where many thousands are daily on sale. 



129 



K 



CHAPTER VIII 

A VISIT TO THE EMIR OF KANO 

Kano Province under the British Administration includes 
a number of independent Emirates which we found exist- 
ing and which we have maintained, viz. : Kano, Katsina, 
Katagum, Daura, Kazaure and Gummel. The total area 
of the Province is 28,600 square miles, i.e. almost the size 
of Scotland, and its population 2,600,000, or what that of 
Scotland was in the middle of last century. 

The present Emir, Abbas, a reserved and very dark 
Fulani, with refined regular features and long aristocratic 
hands, is a fine figure of a man. The description of a visit 
to him may serve to convey some idea of the ceremonious 
•etiquette observed at the courts of the Mohammedan 
Emirs (Kano being typical of all the great Emirates, with 
the exception of Sokoto where formalities are even more 
elaborate), besides throwing light upon several questions 
of interest and moment connected with the problems of 
British administration. To depict the Emir's residence 
as a compound built of clay is, while accurate, to give but 
an inadequate idea of the imposing character of these 
solid structures, the best of which are, with supervision, 
capable of resisting for centuries the action of the weather. 
I am probably understating the case when I say that the 
tall and bulky wall — some fifteen feet in thickness — 
surrounding the residence encloses five acres. Dismount- 
ing at the principal entrance, we are escorted through the 
gateway by several functionaries and emerge into a vast 

130 



A VISIT TO THE EMIR OF KANO 

enclosure open to the sky. At its extremity, facing us, is 
an inner wall and another deep embrasured gateway 
leading to the state apartments. On our right stands the 
Emir's private mosque, a building of considerable pro- 
portions but smaller, of course, than the public mosque 
outside the walls. Here and there a few picturesque 
figures are noticeable. For, perhaps, a minute we wait. 
Then a blare of trumpets resounds, and through the inner 
gateway emerges a brilliant gathering which advances 
slowly towards us, the Emir in the midst. Within a dozen 
yards or so it halts, and the Emir, separating himself 
from the throng, greets us with hand outstretched — ^the 
only African in the Emirate to whom etiquette allows 
this particular form of salutation with the White man. 
Towering above most of the councillors, officers of state 
and heads of leading families by whom he is accompanied, 
and bearing himself with great dignity, the Emir murmurs 
some words of welcome. He is dressed entirely in costly 
white robes and turban ; his feet are encased in ostrich- 
feather sandals, a footgear introduced in the sixteenth 
century by Mohamijia Rimf a, the twentieth Emir of Kano, 
justly revered for a reign full of years and usefulness, and 
he carries the silver-mounted staff of office presented to 
all the ruling Emirs by Sir Frederick Lugard after the 
British occupation. He invites us to follow him and leads 
the way in silence to his apartments, his courtiers closing 
round us as we proceed. In the same impressive silence 
we pass through the inner gateway and find ourselves in a 
broad passage flanked on either side by lofty audience 
chambers whose dimensions it is difficult to gauge in the 
semi-obscurity which reigns within them. At the end of 
the passage is yet another gateway. Thenceforth we 
proceed alone with the Emir and the Waziri or Vizier — 
the present holder of that office being a man of great inde- 
pendence and strength of character, whose fearless candour 
and ripe judgment have been of inestimable service in 

131 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

assisting successive Residents to understand the many 
complex problems of native administration. Crossing a 
courtyard we enter the outer room of the Emir's private 
apartments. And here for an hour we discuss many 
things, chairs being provided for us while the Emir and 
Waziri, in accordance with the etiquette of the country, 
sit cross-legged before us. A word as to the architecture 
and appearance of the room, which, as we were subse- 
quently to ascertain, is roughly similar to the audience 
chambers we have left behind. It is some twenty to twenty- 
five feet in height, with an arched roof supported by wooden 
beams on the cantilever principle ; both beams and roof 
are, like the floor, stained a deep black with the varnish 
obtained from the shell of the locust bean ; a few plates 
of European manufacture are let into the supporting 
rafters ; the walls, constructed of the usual sun-baked clay 
mingled with other substances, have a glittering appearance 
due to the admixture of mica ; two doors, an outward and 
an inward one, of massive timber bound with iron bars 
affixed by native nails ornamented with large circular 
brass heads, and a divan of rugs and shawls complete a 
picture which suggests a certain austere simplicity. 

After the usual interchange of compliments, I said it 
was desirable the Emir should understand clearly in 
respect to any subjects which might be touched upon, that 
I had no connection direct or indirect with the British 
Government, or with any British commercial or other 
interest; that I was merely visiting his country as an 
independent traveller, and would report what I had seen 
and heard, and that I hoped he would feel free to tell me 
frankly what was in his heart, for the people of England 
only wished to know the truth. Conversation then ranged 
over the part of the province of Kano I had, up to that 
time, visited ; the industry of the inhabitants, their methods 
of agriculture, the care they bestowed upon secondary 
crops, such as cotton, cassava and onions, the great city 

132 



A VISIT TO THE EMIR OF KANO 

market and the variety of goods sold therein. I expressed 
a wish to see the irrigated farms, and the Emir named 
certain locahties near the city where such farms were to 
be seen. The increasing prosperity of the country through 
the preservation of peace was touched upon de part et 
d' autre. The antiquity of the city and its interesting 
records was the next subject approached. It would, I 
remarked, be a very great pity if its essential characteris- 
tics were not maintained amid the innovations which the 
railway would bring in its train. From that point of view 
I ventured to express regret that the ancient walls of the 
city were, in parts, falling into disrepair. In time to come 
future generations of Kanawa would, I thought, lament 
the fact. Would it not be possible to start repairs on one 
section at first, performing the needed work gradually, 
doing a certain amount every year and finishing section 
by section ? The Emir fully concurred, saying that his 
people themselves wished the walls restored. He hoped 
to deal with the matter, but thought that it might be 
easier to commence preliminary repairs on a general scale 
rather than start one part and finish that first as I had 
suggested. From the question of the wall we turned to 
the more difficult one of European traders and educated 
Native traders from the coast whom the railway would 
bring, settling in the city. The Emir remarked that, 
while foreign merchants were welcome, it would be better 
for them and for the city and its inhabitants if those who 
wished to trade with the Kanawa founded places of busi- 
ness at convenient spots outside. 

Missionary propaganda in the Muslimised Hausa States 
of the north was next touched upon. The subject has 
already given rise to discussions at home, which are being 
followed in Northern Nigeria with anxious concern, and 
such momentous consequences are bound up in it 
that I felt it incumbent to ascertain through personal 
contact, the views of one of the most important, 

133 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

in a certain measure the most important, of the Moham- 
medan chiefs through whom we exercise supreme control. 
I told the Emir I would be quite frank with him, and 
hoped that he would be equally frank with me. The 
English people and the Kanawa people, I said, worshipped 
the same Almighty Creator of the universe. The English 
people followed the teachings of Christ, the Kanawa people 
the teachings of Mohammed, and both peoples thought their 
religion the best. But although the people of England 
held firmly to their beliefs, they had no desire to interfere 
with that of the Kanawa. Their representative. Sir 
Frederick Lugard, had pledged himself in their name to 
that effect, and the English people always kept their word. 
But, I went on, some of my countrymen who wished well 
to the Kanawa, thought Christianity could be preached 
in Kano without breaking this pledge, because there would 
be no interference and no moral pressure would be put 
upon the people of Kano to change their religion even 
though Christian teachers sat down in the city and taught. 
The Kanawa could come and hear them, or not, as they 
pleased. That was the view held by some of the people in 
my country. What I wished to know were the Emir's 
opinions in the matter. Did he, or did he not, see 
objections to the presence of Christiari preachers in the 
city? 

For some time the Emir kept silent, his fingers 
twitching nervously. One could see the struggle passing 
in his mind and realize some of the difficulties of his own 
position. Presently he spoke thus — I reproduce the words 
as literally as possible : — 

" Mohammedanism is a matter of the heart. Our fathers and 
our grandfathers were MusHms. For many generations we have been 
MusSms. What is the use of preaching if there are no converts? 
Even if the Christian missionary tried to meet the native on equal 
terms he could not do so because all white men are Sarikis (chiefs), 
and the people cannot help so regarding them. The missionaries 
might not wish to use force. But they would exercise pressure 

134 



A VISIT TO THE EMIR OF KANO 

amounting to force, because of the prestige all white men have, and 
the people would be disturbed and troubled in their minds. 
" There would be unrest." 

I asked the Emir whether he would have any objection 
to confirming in writing the views he had expressed. After 
a further period of silent consideration, he said he had 
none. Here is the letter subsequently received from him, 
rendered from the Arabic text : — 

" Praise to God who only is to be praised. 

" Salutations. 

" This letter is directed to the stranger, Mr. Morel, who has come. 

" Know that as regards the preaching (of Christianity) which we 
discussed here, my opinion is that it were better to stop it altogether, 
from the first — ^because, if our people are disturbed about their religion 
they will become suspicious and afraid. Hence the country will 
become unsettled. Neither you nor we desire the country to become 
unsettled, for that would be harmful. On the other hand, as regards 
secular matters and the affairs of this world, we can do anything — 
however great a change it might be — since our people are accustomed 
to law and to obey the orders of their rulers as their fathers and grand- 
fathers were before them. Also, as regards white men living in the 
city of Kano, if they do so many of our people will leave it, since the 
white men are too strong, and every one of them is in our eyes, a great 
man and powerful. The lion and the lamb cannot lie down together. 
My opinion is that the white man who may wish to settle should have 
a separate town outside the city of Kano — then we shall have our town 
and they will have theirs. This is the wisest course, and far more 
advantageous for our subjects than a mixed city of natives and non- 
natives. 

" Peace." 

At the close of the interview we were reconducted with 
the same ceremonious politeness and in the same silence 
as before to the ceutre of the outer enclosure, where we 
took our leave. 



135 



CHAPTER IX 

GOVERNING ON NATIVE LINES 

The fundamental principle aimed at by the Government 
in Northern Nigeria is indirect administration, i.e. adminis- 
tration through the native rulers of the communities, the 
Chiefs and their executives, under the supervision and 
with the assistance of the Residents. That was the policy 
laid down by Sir Frederick Lugard in a series of compre- 
hensive Memoranda which form not the least notable 
feature of the great work he carried out during his tenure 
of office, a work entirely creative, be it remembered, a 
work of which the value can but grow in public estimation 
as the sense of perspective deepens with the years, and as 
additional information supplies what in the early days of 
the occupation was largely lacking. That was the policy 
Sir Frederick Lugard's successor. Sir Percy Girouard, 
found in being, not, indeed, unthreatened, but enthusiasti- 
cally upheld by the most experienced members of the 
Political Staff. He not only gave it his full official 
support and checked certain leanings of an opposite kind, 
but he brought to bear upon the situation a personal 
sympathy, an illuminating and penetrative genius which 
popularized the policy in quarters previously hostile or 
indifferent. Sir Henry Hesketh Bell has loyally followed 
in the footsteps of his predecessors. That nothing should 
be allowed to divert us from keeping on the same road is 
the writer's conviction, for what it may be worth, after 
several years' study at a distance and recent investigations 
on the spot. 

136 



GOVERNING ON NATIVE LINES 

A genuine and honest endeavour is being made not 
only to rule through the native Chiefs, but to rule through 
them on native lines. Too much importance can hardly 
be ascribed to the distinction. The success already 
attained would be thrown away if policy were deflected in 
the direction of substituting European for native ideas. 
If the native machine is expected to perform functions for 
which it is unqualified, the works get out of gear. If the 
Chiefs are called upon to exercise their authority in en- 
forcing measures essentially alien to the native constitu- 
tion, their prestige over the individual lapses. They 
become mere puppets, and indirect rule breaks down. I 
hope to make clear what the native constitution is, and 
what is meant by ruling on " native lines." The difficul- 
ties of improving and purifying when required a native 
administration, without impairing its general efficiency, 
are always considerable. In Northern Nigeria they are, 
for several reasons, peculiarly so. If the result, so far, has 
shown the wisdom of the original conception, it has been 
due to the determination and tact of the senior Political 
Residents, and to the excellence of the native material. 
Our task has been furthered by the administrative 
capacities of the Fulani Emirs. Some were, indeed, found 
unfit and had to be removed, but the majority are in- 
creasingly showing themselves not only capable but quite 
indispensable to the work of government. 

It would, however, be mischievous to conceal the fact 
that indirect rule in the proper sense of the term, i.e. in- 
volving the preservation of native law and custom, has to 
bear, in West Africa, the brunt of constant and insidious 
assaults on the part of interested, or prejudiced, or ill- 
informed opinion. This opposition is often quite honest 
and quite easy to understand if the conditions are grasped. 
It is important they should be grasped. Indirect rule is an 
obstacle to employment and promotion in some branches 
of the service. It restricts the scope of secretarial, 

137 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

judicial, police and military activities. It robs the 
educated native barrister trained in English law, and the 
educated native clerk, of a field for the exercise of their 
professions. It checks the European capitalist in a hurry 
to push on " development." The missionary is apt to 
regard it as a stumbling-block to Christian propaganda. 
Finally, there is the type of European who is racially biased 
against the retention of any sort of control by the native 
in his own country. Indirect rule, therefore, has very 
many enemies, and it cannot have too many friends among 
the thinking public at home. So far as Northern Nigeria 
is concerned, strenuous efforts will have to be put forward 
by all who are convinced of the necessity of upholding 
indirect rule therein, when the amalgamation of the two 
Protectorates is taken in hand. That time cannot be far 
distant and the wind which blows from the south is 
charged with many hostile particles. There would seem, 
then, to be solid reasons for the public to appreciate the 
conditions, at once severely practical, and of the moral 
order, which make the continuation of the existing policy 
necessary to the welfare of the Northern Protectorate. 

Let us first consider geographical verities and ways and 
means. Northern Nigeria is 255,000 square miles in 
extent and the territory is divided into thirteen provinces. 
Of these provinces, Sokoto, the most considerable in point 
of area, is nearly as large as Scotland and Wales ; Bornu 
is the size of Ireland ; Kano is almost as large as Scotland ; 
Kontagora-Borgu is slightly larger than, and Bauchi and 
Muri the size of, Greece ; the Niger Province is as exten- 
sive as Servia ; Yola is as large as Denmark, and Nassarawa 
exceeds the area of Switzerland. It is only by realizing 
space, by realizing that months of travel still separate 
some provinces from others, that the expense, to say 
nothing of other considerations, which would be entailed 
in gathering up all the administrative threads of such a 
territory into the hands of a staff of British officials can be 

138 



GOVERNING ON NATIVE LINES 

understood. I have never heard it suggested that the 
Lords of the Treasury parted enthusiastically with the 
meagre sum allotted to Northern Nigeria. One cannot 
imagine that their Lordships' satisfaction would increase 
if they were presented not with a bill of a quarter of a 
million but of two millions. The single Province of Kano, 
which under the present system is supervised by seventeen 
political officers, and more than pays its own way, would 
require at least three hundred officials if direct rule were 
established, or the prestige of the Emirs so weakened as to 
deprive them of all real authority over the people, and 
this, exclusive of a swarm of native officials who could 
not be done without in any case. That brings me to my 
next point. Direct rule would, of necessity, involve an 
enormous, directly paid, native staff. For its every action 
the Government would be compelled to accept responsi- 
bility, and its members would, perforce, be largely com- 
posed of the class of native — the most undesirable type, 
it may be added — ^from which the policemen and soldiers 
are now recruited. Putting aside the question of ex- 
penditure altogether, can any sane man, disposed to look 
the facts squarely in the face and knowing anything of the 
country, contemplate with equanimity the consequences of 
such a regime ? Then, assuming for purposes of argument 
the non-existence of these impediments, where would lie 
the moral justification, let alone the purely political 
expediency, of sweeping away the rule of the natural 
rulers of the country ? 



139 



CHAPTER X 

THE FOUNDATIONS OF NATIVE SOCIETY — THE TENURE OF 

LAND 

Having indicated some of the quagmires into which direct 
rule would lead us, one may now pass to an examination 
of the foundations upon which native law and custom 
repose in the organized society of the north, as revealed by 
systematic inquiry extending over the past five years. 
Essentially the same groundwork is found in the more 
rudimentary pagan communities which have remained 
without the area of Mohammedan organization. Inciden- 
tally, it may be well to mark that Northern Nigeria has 
not evolved powerful pagan organisms comparable with 
those of Yoruba and Benin in the south. The basis of 
the social system is the village community. A number of 
village communities form the tribal community. The 
partly hereditary, partly elective rule of the tribal com- 
munity constitutes, with the Executive, the Government 
of the entire community. The ruler himself is the 
" Governor," against whose actions the people can appeal 
to native law and custom. For the welfare of that 
community the ruler is guardian. Land is the common 
heritage of the community. The ruler is trustee for the 
land. Upon him devolves the granting of rights of 
occupancy. The structural law of tenure is the right of 
occupier and user, not of owner. Private ownership of 
land is unknown. The cultivator is, in reality, a licensee. 
Alienation of land is unknown. The unit of taxation is 

140 



THE TENURE OF LAND 

the village community. Each individual is supposedly 
assessed according to his earning capacity. If he is an 
agriculturist he furnishes a proportion of his crop, which, 
in effect, is a rent paid to the community for the use of 
land. If an artisan, he pays a tax upon his trade. If a 
herdsman, upon his cattle. The community as a whole is 
subject to specific imposts which assist in maintaining the 
civil list of the ruler. The character of the taxes and 
imposts follows the requirements of the Koranic law 
modified, when considered expedient, by pre-Koranic 
customary law. Justice is administered by judges con- 
versant with the sacred books, appointed by the ruler and 
exercised on the principles of Koranic law. If a balance 
could be struck, it would probably be found that a system 
of this kind ensures a greater amount of human happiness 
than many of the forms of government even now existing 
in Europe. Indeed, the closer one's knowledge of African 
life and the more insight one obtains into the immense sea 
of human misery heaving beneath the crust of Western 
civilization, the more one is led to marvel at the shallow 
commonplaces which picture the African wallowing in 
degraded barbarism. Like all institutions, the African 
system lends itself to abuse. Those abuses the British 
Administration has set itself to correct, while maintaining 
the system itself. Upon the Colonial Office continuing to 
support that policy, and upon the men who are applying 
it on the spot being enabled to go on with their work free 
from interference, depends the future happiness and 
prosperity of the Nigerian peoples, which, in effect, is at 
once the Imperial interest and the justification of Imperial 
rule. 

The British, having replaced the Fulani, are in native 
law and custom the conquering tribe. The urgency of 
devoting as much time as it was possible to spare from the 
pressing problems of the hour demanding daily solution, 
to an investigation of the exact conditions prevailing in 

141 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

each province was, therefore, imperative. In so extensive 
a territory, differing local circumstances affecting soil, 
population, occupation, distribution of power, and so on, 
had obviously created different methods or rather heads 
of taxation and variation in the formulae of Government, 
assessment and levying of revenue, etc. One question 
above all others had to be elucidated, that of the ownership 
of land — basis of the whole social edifice. Sir Frederick 
Lugard initiated these inquiries. They were vigorously 
prosecuted by Sir Percy Girouard and the Residents, and 
when it became apparent beyond all possibility of doubt 
that the land, whether actually occupied or not, was 
national ; that freehold property was foreign to all native 
ideas ; and that, under native law and custom, the new 
rulers of the country were recognized as holders of the 
land in trust for the people and, thereby, the grantors of 
occupants' rights. Sir Percy Girouard pressed for these 
cardinal principles being given force of law. Legislation 
which should embody them was, moreover, of additional 
moment for two reasons. First, because the opening up 
of the country was bound to give rise to the danger of 
alienation of occupancy rights creeping in and being 
incorporated into native custom, out of which would 
automatically evolve a customary sanction for the mort- 
gaging of land, the creation of a class of landlords, a wide 
field for the European speculator in land, and a general 
break-up of the native system. Secondly, because the 
approach of the railways, the development of roads, the 
increasing demand for foodstuffs and the all-round 
intensifying economic pressure were bound, once more 
automatically, to originate, independently of the industry 
of the cultivator, an incremental value in the land. 
Before that state of affairs was brought home to the native 
and had, perhaps, been made under native law and custom, 
the subject of private property, which would have meant 
the creation of vested interests difficult to displace, it was 

142 



THE TENURE OF LAND 

the obvious duty of a Government trustee for the commu- 
nity to step in and secure these expanding values for the 
future benefit of that community. But things move slowly 
in West Africa, and legislation of the kind referred to was 
novel : unique, indeed. West Africa's problems had 
never been thought out ahead before. Just as matters 
were ripening. Sir Percy Girouard was suddenly transferred 
to East Africa. But the Colonial Office was sympathetic, 
and there were men in Nigeria who, comprehending well 
the perils of leaving the land question unregulated, were 
determined to do their utmost to push the matter through. 
On January ist of this year the most far-seeing 
measure of constructive statesmanship West Africa has 
ever known was put upon the statute-book. " The Land 
and Native Rights Proclamation " consecrates the three 
main principles of native law and custom. First, that the 
whole of the land whether occupied or unoccupied is 
" native land." Secondly, that the land is under the 
control and subject to the disposition of the Governor, to 
be " held and administered by him for the use, need and 
common benefit of the natives of Northern Nigeria." 
Thirdly, that the Governor's power shall be exercised in 
accordance with " native laws and customs." For the 
rest, and without going into detail, the measure can be 
described as expressing the native system, and the natural 
developments of the native system, in English. It is not, 
in Nigeria, an innovating measure, but a conservative 
measure ; not an experiment, but a preservation of the 
status quo. It is not a measure of land nationalization, 
because land nationalization means State control of the 
land and all that is done upon it. What this measure does 
is to provide for the communalizing of the communal value 
of the land, leaving the occupier full control over the use 
of land and full benefit for his private enterprise upon it, 
with payment of rent to the community to which the land 
belongs, instead of to a landlord. The individual's right 

143 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

to all that is due to individual work and expenditure, but 
not to the communal value, is secured. No freehold can 
creep in and no monopoly profit can be made out of the 
land. The holding up of land for speculative purposes is, 
in effect, penalized, while the man who is industrious is 
not made to pay more as the outcome of his enterprise. 
At the same time the basis is laid for a land revenue which, 
with the years, will be the chief source of income of the 
Government — ^the healthiest form of income, perhaps, for 
any Government. For the first time in the history of 
West Africa, the art of governing the native on native 
lines has become consecrated in British legislation and the 
pernicious tradition of applying the law of England to 
African land questions has been set aside. It is impossible 
to exaggerate the potentialities for good of such a depart- 
ture from crude, ignorant and unscientific precedent. It 
will be the duty of the Colonial Office, to whom everlasting 
credit is due for having sanctioned this proclamation, to 
watch strictly that the principles laid down therein are not 
departed from in practice, and to apply them, with the 
modifications of method which differing and pre-existing 
conditions render advisable, to Southern Nigeria also. 
That attempts to undermine the provisions and the spirit 
of the Northern Nigerian law will arise, may be unhesi- 
tatingly assumed. 



144 



CHAPTER XI 

THE FOUNDATIONS OF NATIVE SOCIETY — ^THE ADMINIS- 
TRATIVE MACHINERY 

The policy of governing Northern Nigeria on native lines — 
in other words, of training the natives to govern themselves 
instead of trying to govern them ourselves — ^has the 
approval of the entire native community except the 
criminal classes, who would be the only ones to benefit by 
a weakening in the position of the native authorities and 
in the decay of the etiquette attaching to their position. 
It is being pursued in every branch of the Administration 
concurrently, with a steadily marked improvement in the 
efficiency and purity of the public service. 

The native administrative machinery varies slightly in 
the different Emirates, and is better organized in some 
than in others, but a description of the system as it obtains 
in the Kano Emirate, which is a little larger than Belgium 
and Luxemburg, will serve as a general indication appli- 
cable in its essentials to the others. The executive con- 
sists of the Emir — advised and assisted by the Resident — 
and his judicial and executive Council, composed of the 
Waziri (Vizier, or Chief of Staff), the Maji (Treasurer), the 
Alkali (Chief Justice), and five Mallamai (" teachers," men 
versed in the law and in the customs of the country) of 
repute. This is the Supreme Court of Appeal. The 
Emirate is divided into districts under a district Chief or 
Headman (Hakima) responsible to the Executive. Each 
district is divided into sub-districts under a sub-district 

145 L 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

Chief or Headman (Maijimilla) responsible to the District 
Headman. Each sub-district is composed of townships 
or villages with village-heads (Masugari) responsible to the 
sub-district Headman. 

Kano city itself is under the supervision of the Maajen- 
Wuteri, who corresponds roughly with our English mayor 
with twenty town police (dogarai), picturesque individuals 
in red and green, and twenty night watchmen (masugefia) 
under him. Ninety more police are spread over the various 
districts and attached to the District Courts. There are 
no British native police whatever. That experiment was 
tried for a time, being attended with such conspicuous 
ill-success and being accompanied by such an increase in 
crime that it was wisely abandoned. Nothing could surely 
convey a more striking proof of the order reigning through- 
out the Emirate and of the law-abiding character of the 
people, than the fact of its being policed with ninety men 
armed with nothing more formidable than a sword. 
Think of ninety constables sufficing for Belgium and 
Luxemburg or any other area of 13,000 square miles in 
Western Europe ; or take the population of the Emirate — 
one and a half millions — ^and point to a single comparable 
proportion of police to population in Europe. Crimes of 
violence are extraordinarily scarce, and the Native Ad- 
ministration, backed by the British "raj," has now such 
a hold upon the country that for a case to be unreported 
would be hardly possible. The roads are safe for the 
solitary traveller — I frequently passed women alone, or 
accompanied by a child, sometimes husband, wife and 
child, many miles from the capital. I have walked alone 
save for one white companion through the deserted 
streets of Kano city at night. Kano city is not, however, 
free from thieves, and seeing that so many strangers are 
constantly coming and going it is hardly to be wondered at. 
Some two years back night burglaries became unpleasantly 
frequent. Native ingenuity hit upon a plan to cope with 

146 



THE ADMINISTRATIVE MACHINERY 

them. The services of the professional rat-catchers were 
enhsted. They were enrolled as night-watchmen, paid 
£i a man, and told they would be fined 2S. 6d. every time 
a robbery was committed. Very few fines were inflicted, 
and Kano was cleared of its nocturnal undesirables " one 
time." 

The general standard of probity among the inhabitants 
of Kano themselves is, however, shown by the free and 
easy manner in which merchandise is left unguarded in 
the great market, and it appears that lost property is 
constantly being handed over to the Alkali, who has the 
articles called out by a public crier in the market-place. 

The absence of a fixed scale of emoluments for public 
servants is always the weak point of native government. 
Northern Nigeria was no exception to the rule. The 
proportion of the taxes actually collected which eventually 
found its way into the so-called Public Treasury, was used 
by the Emir with small regard to the public interest and 
with a great deal for his own. The Alkalis and their 
assessors, though by no means universally corrupt, were 
dependent for their living upon such sources as the fees 
(usheri) upon judgment debts and upon the estates of 
deceased persons (ujera). To Mr. Charles Temple, now 
Acting Governor, whose knowledge of Northern Nigeria 
and its peoples is unequalled, belongs the credit of having 
instituted in the Kano Emirate the Beit-el-Mal or Public 
Treasury in the proper sense of the word, which has since 
been extended, or is being extended, into all of them. The 
system follows traditional lines but vastly improves them. 
In practice it works out as follows. Half the total revenue 
collected goes direct to the Northern Nigeria Government. 
Of the remaining half, fifty per cent, is paid into the Beit- 
el-Mal to provide salaries for the native oflicials and to pay 
for necessary public works. The balance is divided into 
fifths on the basis of two-fifths of each district's yield to 
the District Headman ; two-fifths of the sub-district's 

147 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

yield to the Sub-district Headman ; one-fifth of his own 
village's yield to the Village Headman. It will doubtless 
be possible, as the system becomes perfected, for each 
district to have its own Beit-el-Mal with limited powers, 
receiving its instructions from the central Beit-el-Mal, just 
as the local British Treasuries receive instructions from 
the Treasury at Zungeru. This would enable the District 
Heads, Sub-district Heads and Village Heads to have fixed 
salaries like the Native Executive, a very desirable ideal 
to aim at. 

The Emir draws a fixed sum monthly from the Beit-el- 
mal for his private expenses, which are numerous, and the 
public expenditure is accounted for and overlooked by 
the Resident. The Waziri draws £1000 a year, the Maji 
;^36o, the Alkali £600, the Limam (High Priest) £72. 
There are thirteen districts in charge of thirteen local 
Alkalis drawing £60 a year each. The public works com- 
pleted out of the Beit-el-mal funds during the last year or 
two include the rebuilding of the Kano market at a cost 
of £600, a new jail at a cost of £1000, a new Court House, 
3^250, besides keeping the thirteen gates of the city in 
repair, additions to the mosque, etc. In regard to the 
latter, it is interesting to note that the work of adding to 
the mosque and repairing the minaret, was entirely carried 
out by contract labour. The contract was given out by 
the Emir and the contractor paid the workmen to the 
number of over a thousand, a previously unheard-of event 
in native annals and an example of one of the many 
improvements which the Native Administration is carrying 
out under British influence. The Emir has also directed 
that £1000 shall be contributed to the National School at 
Nassarawa, which I shall have occasion to speak about in 
a subsequent letter. Legislation for the purpose of legally 
constituting the native Beit-el-Mals would seem to be 
called for. 

The administration of justice has been vastly purified 

148 




CORNER OF A KATI\-E 5IARKET. 




ANOTHER CORNER. 



THE ADMINISTRATIVE MACHINERY 

by the inauguration of fixed emoluments. The District 
Courts and the Supreme Court administer Koranic law, 
or customary law, i.e. traditional law based on custom, or 
Government proclamations. Speaking generally, the 
Alkalis are a fine body of men, and they appear to be 
realizing more and more the dignity and responsibilities of 
their position. The chief Alkali in particular is a man of 
very high character. The legal code in criminal and civil 
matters is, of course, mainly inspired by the sacred books, 
and the Alkali is generally a Doctor of Mohammedan 
common law. His influence and power appear to be more 
extensive than that of the Egyptian kadi, since he has 
jurisdiction in criminal cases and in land suits, which the 
latter has not. Of the cases tried in the courts of the 
Kano Emirate, about 30 per cent, are matrimonial, such 
as divorce, restitution of conjugal rights, alimony, etc. 
The courts are very hard worked, deahng with about 
7000 to 8000 cases per annum, and the Alkalis fully earn 
their salaries. I attended the chief Alkali's court in 
Kano city, and was greatly impressed by the general 
decorum, the respect shown to the Alkali, the activity of 
the assessors, the marshalling of the witnesses, the order, 
rapidity, and business-like manner in which the whole 
proceedings were conducted. It was an example of 
native self-government in Western Africa which would 
have astonished a good many people in Europe. No 
British court, no alien magistrate, could possibly deal 
with these " affairs of the people," which require a com- 
plete mastery of Koranic law and customary law, such a 
mastery as only a trained native can ever acquire, and it 
is to be hoped that any attempts which may arise to 
curtail the jurisdiction of the native courts — accepted by 
all classes, of natives — ^will be promptly discouraged, 
together with similar attempts to interfere with the present 
Beit-el-mal system. From a practical point of view the 
maintenance of the Native Administration, guided and 

149 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

supervised by the Resident, i.e. indirect rule, is inseparable 
from the financial question. If the Native Administration 
were not financially provided for it would cease to exist. 
If the Emirs and their executives were converted into 
mere civil pensioners of the Government, they would 
become figure-heads deprived of all power and prestige. 
Under the system I have described the Emirs have power, 
and only hyper-sensitiveness and short-sightedness can see 
in their power our weakness. It is, on the contrary, our 
strength and defence against the reactionary elements 
which exist, and which are bound to exist in a country but 
newly occupied, and which are certainly not less hostile 
to the native authorities, who pursue their labours under 
the segis of the British "raj," than they are to the 
British "raj " itself. Anything that impairs the influence 
of the native authorities, not only impairs the efficiency 
of the Administration of the country, but is an invitation 
to lawlessness and disorder. 

It is only fair to state in this connection that the 
initiative of perpetuating, under British rule and with 
the modifications required, the system of land taxation 
indigenous to the community, was due to the suggestion 
of Sir William Wallace, for many years Acting High 
Commissioner of Northern Nigeria. 



150 



CHAPTER XII 

THE PRESERVATION OF THE NATIONAL LIFE 

Among those to whom the government of the coloured 
races of mankind appears in the Ught of a sacred trust 
committed to an Imperial white people, as to the servants 
of that people possessing the widest experience in the 
practice of such government, the preservation of the 
national life of these races must be a matter of paramount 
importance. Increased knowledge born of familiarity in 
the art of tropical government and of anthropological 
knowledge, a clearer realization of human needs which an 
expanding mental horizon brings with it, are teaching us 
many things. They are teaching us that there can be no 
common definition of progress or common standard for all 
mankind; that the highest human attainments are not 
necessarily reached on parallel lines ; that man's place and 
part in the universe around him must vary with the dis- 
similarities of race and environment ; that what may spell 
advance for some races at a particular stage in their 
evolution may involve retrogression, if not destruction, for 
other races in another stage ; that humanity cannot be 
legislated for as though every section of it were modelled 
on the same pattern ; that to disregard profound divergence 
in culture and racial necessities is to court disaster, and 
that to encourage national growth to develop on natural 
lines and the unfolding of the mental processes to proceed 
by gradual steps, is the only method by which the exercise 
of the Imperial prerogative can be morally justified. Our 

151 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

one and only conspicuous Imperial failure was due to a 
misguided belief that we could, and that it was desirable in 
our own interests that we should, crush out nationality 
by violence. It inflicted upon the victims immense misery 
and upon the performers embarrassments which have 
endured for centuries. Elsewhere we are experiencing the 
discomforting reflex of a policy based upon the supposition 
that East is capable of assimilation with West under alien 
guidance. British India is rent with confusion and men- 
tally unsettled by a jumble of conflicting ideals, to which 
the Protected Native States offer a contrast that cannot 
but carry with it its own very significant lessons. 

All the good work accomplished in Northern Nigeria 
during the last seven years can be flung away by a refusal 
to benefit from experience in other parts of the world. In 
pleading for the slow but sure policy everywhere in Nigeria, 
and in pleading that where in Nigeria national life has 
already expanded through the exercise of its own internal 
forces into organized communities, possessing their own 
laws and customs, their own machinery of government and 
their own well-defined characteristics, that national life 
shall be protected, preserved and strengthened to enable 
it to bear the strain of new conditions, one is pleading, it 
seems to me, for the true welfare of the people and for the 
highest concept of Imperialism. 

These considerations hold good as regards every branch 
of European activity. Effective British political control 
does not require constant encroachments of departmental 
activity. British industrial interests can be allowed to find 
a natural outlet in the ordinary play of economic forces 
without calling upon Government assistance, for example, 
to undermine a national weaving industry in which, as 
Barth remarked of it many years ago, there is something 
that is " truly grand," giving employment and support as 
it does to innumerable families without compelling them 
to sacrifice their domestic habits or to pass their lives in 

152 



PRESERVATION OF THE NATIONAL LIFE 

immense establishments detrimental to health. British 
commercial necessities do not demand that the big native 
cities should be thrown open to the White trader, who can 
pursue his useful avocations just as well, and certainly with 
much greater regard to health conditions, outside than 
inside them. In the same way the advent of the mission- 
ary into the organized Mohammedan provinces of the 
north before the country is ripe to receive them, would be 
a positive danger, besides being an act perilously akin to 
a breach of faith. Surely we have become sufi&ciently 
intelligent to take a broadly human view of these things ? 
There is a field in pagan Northern and pagan Southern 
Nigeria sufficiently extensive to occupy all the energies of 
all the missions put together, without invading the heart 
of Moslem Nigeria. The advent of Christian missions into 
Kano or Katsina or Sokoto, for example, would be regarded 
as an act of aggression. Their presence in Zaria is a great 
mistake, and I make bold to assert that it is only com- 
parable to a man smoking a pipe on a barrel of gunpowder. 
We hold this newly occupied country by the force of our 
prestige, far more than by the very small number of native 
troops in our service. That it is the duty of Government 
to prevent the introduction of elements, whatever their 
character and however lofty their motives, whose presence 
is calculated to cause unrest, is sufficiently self-evident as 
not to need emphasizing. No Government can afford to 
disregard so clear a view as that formulated, for example, 
in the Emir of Kano's letter given in Chapter VIII, 
But one would desire, if possible, that the leaders of the 
Christian Churches themselves should be brought to 
appreciate the justice of the contention. The establish- 
ment of Christian missions in the Mohammedan Emirates 
would not succeed in damming up the self-propelling 
currents of Islamic propaganda which are permeating 
Nigerian paganism. That is the true problem which the 
Churches have to face. 

153 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

The question of economic development is on the same 
plane. That peace, the advent of railways and the growth 
of population will eventually result in the creation of a 
large commercial movement of affairs with Northern 
Nigeria — apart from the mineral output — is not to be 
doubted. But exaggeration as regards immediate pros- 
pects is to be deprecated, and the claims of economic 
development, important as they are, should not be allowed 
to play too great a part in administrative solicitude. The 
main concern of the Administration for the next few years 
should be that of placing the political, financial and educa- 
tional organization of the country upon secure foundations. 
Political unrest and social confusion are stumbling-blocks 
to commercial progress, and everything should be done to 
avoid them. Those in a position to realize the marvels 
already accomplished in this region of Africa by the 
handful of British officials administering the country, 
and the many problems requiring on the part of those 
who are called upon to deal with them the utmost 
delicacy and tact in adjustment, cannot but enter a 
caveat against all tendencies, from whatever source they 
may emanate, be they of self-interest or of unselfish 
devotion, to " rush " Northern Nigeria. Rapid expan- 
sion does not necessarily mean progress. Sometimes 
it means exactly the reverse. Let us, rendered wise 
by experience elsewhere, set our faces like flint against 
the " Europeanizing " of Northern Nigeria. In Sierra 
Leone, in the Gold Coast, in the Western Provinces of 
Southern Nigeria we have daily object-lessons of the 
deplorable results of this denationahzing process. That 
Northern Nigeria should be preserved from it must 
be the earnest wish of all who are acquainted with its 
peoples and alive to their possibilities. 



154 



CHAPTER XIII 

A PAGE OF HISTORY AND ITS MORAL 

If we have the imagination to grasp the true significance 
of the events which led, a century ago, to the break-up 
of the Hausa dynasty by the Fulani, we shall find the 
key to the moral side of permanently successful govern- 
ment in Northern Nigeria. The motive of the Fulani 
jihad has usually been attributed either to mere religious 
fanaticism or to personal and racial ambition ; or, again, 
as an incident in the prolonged struggle for power on the 
part of this or that ruler or dynasty which has destroyed 
the fertile uplands of Western Africa south of the Sahara 
since the shattering of the ancient Niger civilizations 
by the Moorish invasion at the end of the sixteenth 
century. It appears to me that this appreciation is 
superficial, and that we must look deeper than the surface 
results. I am not sure that these surface results them- 
selves do not suggest the need of doing so. A man of 
letters galvanizing a whole countryside to revolt against 
oppression. Shepherds and cowherds flinging away their 
sticks and staves and rallying to his standard. Initial 
defeat turned into victory. A number of independent 
States converted into a homogeneous entity acknowledging 
a temporal and spiritual over-lord. An immense region 
ill-provided with means of internal communication brought 
to recognize one common authority — and all within a 
year or two. These are remarkable occurrences. They 
insinuate the existence of some driving force below the 

155 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

surface. Is it possible to trace that force in the chequered 
annals of this part of Africa ? 

The Moorish invasion dealt the great Negroid Empire 
of the middle Niger — ^the Empire of the Songhay — a 
blow from which it never recovered. The invasion did 
not actually swamp the Hausa States, but its indirect 
consequences must have been felt throughout them in 
everywhere shaking established order, and in the decay 
of spiritual influence following upon the heels of anarchy. 
In the absence of any continuous written records, the 
history of the period following the advance of Morocco's 
musketeers into the Western Sudan, appears to Western 
minds as a confused medley of internecine strife with- 
out defined objects of any kind. One can imagine, 
let us say, a Chinese historian picturing the history of 
England from the tenth to the fifteenth century much 
in the same light, if his materials for composing it 
were almost wholly confined to oral traditions. But 
a close study of the few documents at our disposal 
must, I think, induce the belief that, dating from the 
introduction of a higher spiritual influence into the 
country — Mohammedanism had begun to acquire a 
footing by the eleventh century — ^the land was never 
free from an agency which sought the uplifting of society. 
Before the Moorish generals carried fire and sword into 
the Niger Valley, holy voices were raised in protest 
against the " decay of faith with the increase of in- 
fidelity." "Not one of the acts forbidden by God" 
— ^lament learned Arabic historians — " but was openly 
practised ; wine was drunk, and adultery had become so 
frequent that its practice seemed to have acquired 
legality." The terrible punishment which ensued was 
ascribed to these lapses : " It was on account of these 
abominations that God avenged Himself by calling in 
the victorious Moroccan army." We seem to be listening 
to another Moses denouncing the wickedness of the people 

156 



A PAGE OF HISTORY AND ITS MORAL 

of Israel. In the midst of all these disordered turmoils, 
when the worship of the true God was being swept aside 
by a wave of recrudescent paganism, when mosques were 
being destroyed and desecrated and social lawlessness 
reigned supreme, little knots of true believers gathered, 
forming as it were islands in the sea of turbulence and 
moral abasement, to which Christian Europe added a 
renewed element of subversion by her demand for slaves, 
thus intensifying internal warfare by furnishing it with 
a new and deadly incentive. 

There is evidence that in the middle and towards the 
close of the eighteenth century the Hausa Kings were 
relapsing into paganism (in Zaria, for instance, the old 
Hausa " Tsafi," customs — rock worship — ^had been re- 
vived). It was at this period that the spark of a spiritual 
renascence arose in the most northerly of the Hausa 
States, Gober. Othman Fodio, a Fulani, ultimately the 
leader of the uprising, was above all a moral and spiritual 
reformer, as was his teacher the Mallam Jibrila. He 
sought to raise the whole tone of society. He used his 
influence at the Court of the Hausa King to secure the 
building of schools and the spread of letters. He him- 
self and his brother and his son — into whose hands he 
placed affairs of state after the conquest — wrote a number 
of books whose titles are sufficient to indicate their 
character. Here are some of them : " The Book mani- 
festing the Path of Righteousness and Unrighteousness," 
" The Book for the saving of the People of the Time and 
the Teaching of the Ignorant to understand the Know- 
ledge of the Word," "Explanation to the Rulers as regards 
their Duties and what is due from them in the execution 
of their Duties," " The Book expressing the Difference 
between Right and Wrong," " The Book the Window for 
Students in the holding of the Doors of the Faith in God 
the Giver," " The Book to prevent others from following 
the promptings of the Devil," "The Book plainly showing 

157 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

that the love of the World is the cause of every Fault." 
A reflection by the way. When the Fulani reformers 
were composing these works, and for many years after- 
wards, European and American slavers were periodically 
visiting the lower Niger, six hundred miles south, and, by 
presents of guns and powder, hounding on the natives 
to raid one another for the benefit of the Western 
plantations ! 

Othman's converts were by no means limited to men 
of his own race, as was subsequently shown in the ad- 
herents he obtained. But it was not unnatural that such 
a man should have been an offence to many ; that his 
converts should have been molested ; and that finally, by 
his personal action in releasing a number of them from 
bondage, a collision with the authorities should have been 
precipitated, which eventually led to the proclamation of 
a holy war. Othman engaged in the struggle with 
the words : " If I fight this battle that I may become 
greater than my fellows, may the unbelievers wipe us 
from the land." Upon its successful termination, the 
statesman and the warrior became once more the social 
reformer. Othman returned to his preaching and to the 
compilation of his books. 

A consideration of these facts irresistibly suggests 
that the root causes of the Fulani outburst were 
spiritual in their nature. Othman led a moral and 
spiritual revival, among a people who, like all negroes 
and negroids, are naturally more accessible to spiritual 
influences than are the white peoples of the earth. 
He gave a renewed inspiration to letters. That the 
country, after half a century, fell back once more into 
political chaos does not in the least weaken the moral 
to be gleaned from these events. The religious revival 
has not gone back. From that political chaos the country 
has been rescued by the British power. One of the 
obvious duties of the Administration is to continue the 

158 



A PAGE OF HISTORY AND ITS MORAL 

work of the great Fulani reformer in everywhere extending 
and broadening the intellectual horizon, and doing nothing 
to weaken the national spiritual influences, of the people 
of the land. The creation of a system of education which 
shall be truly national is imperative at this moment when 
the whole fabric of native society is being shaken by 
disturbing elements. The field is clear : the slate clean. 
We are here unfettered by those bitter experiences of 
the West Coast of Africa and of India which are perpetual 
reminders of past blunders and daily handicaps to true 
progress. 



159 



CHAPTER XIV 

A SCHEME OF NATIONAL EDUCATION 

The predominant characteristic of our educational 
methods — official and unofficial — in Western Africa 
hitherto may be summed up in one word — denationali- 
zation. The result is so notoriously unsatisfactory as to 
need no specific illustration. If readers of Mr. Valentine 
Chirol's book on India will turn to his chapters on the 
failure of our educational methods there, and substitute 
West Africa for India, they will be furnished with a 
replica of the situation on the West Coast of Africa. It 
is not an exact replica — for the reason that while the 
ties of caste in India are a deterrent to denationalization, 
such deterrent is non-existent in West Africa. But 
there is not one charge which Mr. Chirol brings against 
the Indian system that could not be equally brought 
against the West African system, and identical conse- 
quences are ensuing. We are barely beginning to realize 
that the policy, or rather impolicy, of the last half -century 
has been a hideous example of misdirected effort, and 
there is hardly an administrator who does not contemplate 
the development of the " educated native problem " with 
the gravest foreboding. 

The object of the Northern Nigeria Administration is 
to set on foot an educational system throughout the 
country which shall save the Protectorate from these 
follies, while at the same time affording the rising gene- 
ration the intellectual pabulum we are bound to provide, 

i6o 



A SCHEME OF NATIONAL EDUCATION 

and ultimately laying the basis for a native civil service. 
At the present moment the scheme is only in its infancy, 
but the infant is robust and full of promise. It is at 
Nassarawa, a beautifully situated and healthy spot a 
few miles outside Kano, close by the Emir's country 
residence, that the first Government schools have been 
started. They consist at present of the Mallamai school, 
or school for teachers, a school for the sons of Chiefs, an 
elementary vernacular school and a technical school 
with carpenters', blacksmiths', leather- workers', and agri- 
cultural classes. The creation of a primary and secondary 
school will follow as soon as the work is sufficiently 
advanced. Special importance attaches to the elementary 
schools, as through them the mass of the population will 
be influenced. As soon as the teachers now being trained 
are ready they will be supplied to the Provinces, where 
the Residents are eagerly awaiting them, and it is the 
intention in every case that they shall be accompanied 
by a technical instructor. The training of Government 
clerks and of artisans for the Public Works Department 
is recognized as a necessity, but it takes quite a secondary 
place in the general educational plan which has been so 
successfully initiated, and these men will be trained so as 
to retain both their national instincts and their national 
dress. 

A ride out to Nassarawa and some hours spent in 
investigating the work already accomplished (there are 
some 350 pupils) I shall always remember as one of the 
most pleasurable experiences of my visit to Northern 
Nigeria. Here at last, one saw, was a common-sense, 
well-thought-out, scientific scheme to enlarge the mental 
outlook of the West African on African lines, to preserve 
his racial constitution, to keep him in touch with his 
parents, in sympathy with his national life. Here, one 
felt, was the nucleus of a future Hausa university to be 
raised some day by the people themselves on their own 

161 M 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

initiative, a university which should far outshine the 
ancient glories of Timbuktu and Jenne, which should 
herald the dawn of a real African renascence, which 
instead of divorcing the people from their land should 
bind them to it in intensified bonds of pride and love. 
For one thing, the preservation of the national tongue 
is aimed at, the general teaching being given in the 
vernacular, for the present in Hausa — ^the lingua franca 
of the country — although in course of time, as the system 
extends, classes in Fulfulde {Fulani), Kanuri (the language 
of Bornu), and, perhaps, Nupe, will doubtless suggest 
themselves; not, however, to the exclusion of Hausa, 
but in combination with it. For another thing, the fatal 
mistake of taking in pupils free, or even paying them to 
come, is not being repeated here ; the principle of every 
pupil paying a fee, paying for his books and paying for 
his medical attendance having been laid down from the 
start. 

The Mallamai school was full of special interest, being 
composed of grown men from eighteen to thirty ; for 
these are the teachers of to-morrow. I was told, and I 
can well believe it from their intellectual faces, that the 
rapidity with which they acquire and the ease with 
which they retain knowledge, is amazing. Land sur- 
veying and farm measuring is included in their curriculum, 
and some of them, although their course of instruction 
is not completed, have already rendered very considerable 
assistance, their work (which I was able to examine at 
a later date), calculated in acres and roods and covering 
many assessment sheets, being neat and generally accurate. 
I attended the geography lesson which was then going 
forward, and found these future teachers studying, not 
the configuration of the Alps or the names of the English 
counties, but the map of Africa, the rivers, mountain 
ranges and political divisions of their own continent : 
not the distances between Berlin and St. Petersburg, 

162 



A SCHEME OF NATIONAL EDUCATION 

Rome and Paris, but between Kano and Lokoja, Zaria 
and Yola, and the routes to follow to reach those places 
from a given spot. The various classes, I observed, were 
not puzzling over, to them, incomprehensible stories 
about St. Bernard dogs rescuing snow-bound travellers, 
or busy bees improving shining hours, but becoming 
acquainted with the proverbs and folk-lore of their own 
land ; not being edified with the properties of the 
mangel-wurzel or the potentialities of the strawberry, 
but instructed in the culture requirements of yams, 
sweet potatoes, and sugar-cane. I did not see rows of 
lads in European costume, unsuited to the climate, 
hideous (out here) and vehicles for the propagation of 
tuberculosis, but decently clothed in their own graceful, 
healthy African garb. 

The school for the sons of chiefs — which, I venture 
to hope, will not, as rumoured, be abandoned without 
very careful consideration — struck me as a triumphant 
proof of what a sympathetic Administration can accom- 
plish in a very short time out here by way of winning 
confidence and removing suspicions. Here were perhaps 
threescore youngsters, the older and more advanced 
boys forming a separate class, and a more intelligent, 
keener crowd it would be difficult to select in any country. 
Their presence — among them were sons of the Emirs of 
Sokoto, Kano, Bauchi, Bornu, Katsina, Katagum, Bida, 
Gombe, Gando, Daura, and Muri — ^together, was evidence 
of the revolution which a few years have brought, for 
their respective fathers were until our advent more or 
less in a state of chronic friction and sometimes of open 
warfare. These Yan Sarikis (sons of chiefs) are not 
only allowed, but encouraged, to correspond with their 
parents, and constant are the mounted messengers passing 
to and fro. 

In the technical school, the leather-workers were 
particularly interesting. The encouragement of this 

163 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

branch of native art should prove a great incentive to 
what is a national industry. There is no reason why 
in time the Hausa leather-workers should not only cut 
out the trade in Tripoli saddlery and boots, imported 
across the desert and sold at fabulous profits in the local 
markets, but supply, as the Hausa cotton manufacturer 
supplies, the needs of French and German territory. 
Indeed, there is no limit to the vistas which this national 
system of education opens up. A people of considerable 
intellect, of notable industrial aptitudes, having the 
sense of history, possessed of singular national vitality, 
guided on national lines of thought expansion, the old- 
time barriers of internecine strife wiped out — ^what a 
magnificent experiment, and how great the privilege of 
the initiators ! I referred to the opportunity for true 
Empire-building which lies before us in Yorubaland, if 
we will but seize it. Here at Nassarawa is Empire- 
building of another kind in actual progress. One other 
fact needs chronicling in connection with these national 
schools. It is the intention of the Administration to 
insist that all pupils receive careful religious instruction 
from teachers of their own creed. When I visited the 
schools, lessons in reading and writing the Koran were 
being given by a Kano Mallam specially selected by the 
Emir of Kano, somewhat on the model of the Egyptian 
schools. It is earnestly to be hoped that the Colonial 
Of&ce will resist any attempt at interference with this 
policy. Interference would be disastrous. It has been 
a prodigious labour of tact and careful steering, for 
which Mr. Hanns Vischer, the director of education and 
the founder of these schools, deserve the greatest credit, 
to secure the support of the Emirs for a truly national 
system of education. Many prejudices have had to be 
overcome. The older school of Mallams do not look with 
a favourable eye upon an innovation which must gradually 
displace their influence in favour of a younger generation, 

164 



A SCHEME O^ NATIONAL EDUCATION 

broader-minded and more tolerant because better edu- 
cated than they. Attempts both internal and external 
have not been, and are not, wanting to warn the chiefs 
of the danger of permitting their sons to become con- 
taminated by foreign doctrines inimical to Islam. 
Justification for the confidence which the chiefs repose 
in our good faith can alone enable us to defeat these 
influences. Were that confidence to be shaken, the 
effort to train the future rulers (under the British suze- 
rainty) of the country with a view to making them 
mentally and physically better fitted to assist the Ad- 
ministration, and to bring them into closer contact with 
one another and with the Government official, would 
receive a fatal blow, and the prestige of the Government 
would be deeply shaken. Let us once more turn to the 
pages of Mr. Chirol's weighty volume and note the con- 
sequences which have followed the elimination of re- 
ligious instruction from the Government schools. To 
allow a weakening of the spiritual forces at work among 
the peoples of the Northern Hausa States would be to 
perpetuate a cruel wrong upon those who have come 
under our protection and from thenceforth are our 
wards. 

A rapid multiplication of national schools in Northern 
Nigeria, so eminently desirable, entirely depends upon 
the financial support which the Administration, hampered 
in every direction for lack of funds, is able to contribute. 
The Imperial Government would be displaying wisdom 
in making a special grant for the purpose, the present 
sum available being altogether inadequate for the im- 
portance and urgency of the object in view, and in 
seriously broaching the problem of control over all 
unofficial educationary agencies in the Protectorate. 



165 



CHAPTER XV 

COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

The external, by which I mean non-indigenous, trade 
of Northern Nigeria plays as yet but an insignificant part 
in the commercial and industrial activities of the country. 
It is largely in the hands of one company, the Niger 
Company, Limited, to the enterprise of whose founder, 
Sir George Taubman Goldie, is due our possession of the 
Northern Protectorate. Three or four other commercial 
houses have extended their operations to the territory, 
and more will certainly follow. At present the only 
other European firm, outside the Niger Company, which 
is doing a large general business is that of Messrs. John 
Holt & Co., Limited. Another alien commercial element 
is the Arab trader. His seat of interest is Kano city, 
where he has been established for several centuries, and 
where, as already stated, there is a recognized Arab 
quarter. The trans-desert trade from Tripoli has always 
been in his hands, but he is now beginning to use the 
parcel post and the western route largely. Ten thousand 
parcels, weighing eleven pounds each, were despatched 
or received by Arab traders during the first half of last 
year. The Arabs appear to deal in lines of trade with 
which European firms are not in touch. Several of them 
have been in England, and the business headquarters of 
one of them is in Manchester. They are intelUgent men, 
but form an uncertain and not particularly safe element 
in the affairs of Kano. A representative of these traders 
who visited me at the house kindly placed at my disposal 

i66 



COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

near the Residency, two miles from the city, gave it as 
his opinion that the railway would double the trade of 
the country in five years. 

The two principal articles of import at present are 
cotton goods and salt. The articles of export are shea- 
nuts or butter, dressed and dyed goat and sheep skins, 
ostrich feathers, rubber, ground-nuts, gum arabic, hides, 
gum copal, beeswax, various kinds of oil-beans, cotton, and 
a fibre resembling, and equal in value to, jute. Tin and 
other minerals stand, of course, in a different category, 
and cannot be regarded as " trade." Of these I formed 
the opinion that a very large future expansion in the 
shea-nut trade and ground-nut trade may be legitimately 
expected. I rode for days through woods of shea, and 
I found these trees growing abundantly all over the parts 
of the Niger Province and Zaria Province I visited, and 
in many parts of the Kano Province. The ground-nut is 
already cultivated, its cultivation is easy, and the soil in 
many districts along the Baro-Kano railway is suitable. 
I see no reason why that railway should not, in parts, 
and in time, attract to itself a population of ground-nut 
cultivators, as the Dakar-St. Louis railway has done, 
and the new Thies-Kayes railway is doing in Senegal. 
The industry is at present handicapped because the 
merchants will not buy the undecorticated nut, and the 
price offered to the native is not sufficiently attractive to 
induce him to go to the great labour involved in decortica- 
tion. Seeing that the Niger ground-nut fetches much 
higher prices than the Senegal and Gambia nut, it is 
astonishing that the merchant is not prepared to deal with 
the nut himself, and to purchase the undecorticated 
article from the native. The present policy strikes one 
as short-sighted. 

A great many hopes have been engendered touching 
an immediate and large export of raw cotton consequent 
upon the termination of the railway. I should be 

167 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

extremely loath to say anything here which would tend 
to throw cold water upon the commendable enterprise 
of the British Cotton Growing Association, to which 
Imperially we owe much, and the problem is one which 
is affected by so many varying local influences that to 
dogmatize upon it would be unwise. Enormous quanti- 
ties of cotton are undoubtedly grown, some districts in 
the Zaria and Kano Provinces being almost entirely 
devoted to its production, and many more off the beaten 
track could be, if transport were available. But at 
present there are two difficulties, apart from the general 
difficulties affecting all economic development in Northern 
Nigeria, to which I shall refer in a moment. One is the 
question of price. The other is the local demand. In 
one sense they are inseparable. The local demand for 
the raw material by local weavers exceeds the supply, 
and the result is that the price the Association finds 
itself, either directly or through its agents, the Niger 
Company, able to pay is insufficient to tempt the growers. 
To overcome these obstacles the Association relies upon 
the attraction offered by a permanent market at a fixed 
price irrespective of local fluctuation ; an increased 
yield per acre through an improvement in the varieties 
produced, and improvement in methods of cultivation ; 
and the inroads upon the local weaving industry through 
the increasing import of Manchester cotton-goods. These 
views may be quite sound, but, granted their soundness, 
some time must elapse before they become appreciably 
operative, and I have difficulty myself in believing that 
any really substantial export of raw cotton is to be 
looked for in the immediate future. But that the Asso- 
ciation's general line of policy in seeking to develop and 
expand the existing native-growing industry, as such, is 
right, and that its labours are calculated to achieve these 
ends, I am persuaded ; while I see no reason to doubt 
that a considerable export of raw cotton will eventually 

i68 



COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

be the outcome of those labours.* Among agricultural 
products, corn should also figure largely in course of 
time. The export of dressed goat and sheep skins is 
steadily increasing. The trade now amounts to over 
one million skins per annum, of a total home value of 
;f5o,ooo to £60,000. Until a few years ago it was an 
entirely trans-desert trade, and the skins were purchased 
at Tripoli for the American market. Latterly the London 
and Kano Trading Company have diverted more than 
half of this trade by the western route, and London is 
to-day the principal purchaser. 

There would seem to be a good future for a trade in 
hides, especially if Kano becomes a slaughter-centre for 
cattle for the southern markets. The possible obstacle 
to this is partly political and partly ethnological, and 
the first, dii least, is worthy of special attention on the 
part of the Administration. Virtually all the herds in 
the Hausa States are the property of the Fulani. Now 
the Fulani M'Bororo, as already pointed out, is a nomad, 
and it is very doubtful if he will ever be anything else. 
Indeed, his very calling necessitates that he should be 
continually on the move to seek out pasture-land, accord- 
ing to the seasons, and the localities he knows. But 
the more the Protectorate is organized the more ill at 
ease will the nomad Fulani become, especially as he 
dislikes most intensely the jangali or cattle-tax, at the 
best of times an unsatisfactory tax to enforce, and one 
which, moreover, operates unfairly towards the small 
herdsman. Here the ethnological peculiarity comes in. 
The Fulani is very fond of his cattle. He does not 
breed them for slaughter, but because he literally loves 
them. He knows every one of them by name, and 
lavishes as much attention upon them as he does upon 
his children. This is peculiar to him not in Nigeria only 
but all over Western Africa. Often have our of&cers in 

* The subject is discussed at greater length in Part IV. 
169 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

Northern Nigeria found it impossible to resist the pitiful 
appeal of some old Fulani herdsman or his wife, begging 
with eyes full of tears for the restitution of a favourite 
ox or heifer taken with others under the " jangali " 
assessment. The dual problem must be thought out or 
the M'Bororo will silently disappear into the vastness of 
Africa, as the Shuwa — ^his nomadic colleague of Bornou 
— ^has already partly disappeared from Nigeria. Fulani 
migration eastwards towards the Nile valley is a marked 
phenomenon of the last ten years, both as regards French 
and British territory in West Africa. Khartoum now 
numbers some 5000 Sokoto Fulani alone. The dis- 
appearance of the Fulani M'Bororoji from the Hausa 
States would not only arrest any development of the 
cattle and hides trades, but would be an incalculable 
loss to Hausa agriculture for the reasons given in a 
previous chapter. 

The forest resources of the country are as yet practi- 
cally untapped, for lack of adequate transport. They 
are not as rich in Northern as in Southern Nigeria, because 
the forests are much fewer, but there are very extensive 
gum-copal forests in Bornu ; there is a good deal of 
rubber in Bauchi and in some other provinces, the 
Benue region especially abounding in rubber, copal, and 
fibres of great value. The Muri province is particularly 
rich. A forestry department organized on the Unes of 
Southern Nigeria is urgently needed. But in this, as in 
almost everything else, the Administration is hampered 
for lack of funds. 

There can be no doubt whatever, that Northern 
Nigeria has immense potentialities but they are not 
going to be developed in a day, or in a decade, and no 
useful purpose can be served by pretending otherwise. 
The very vastness of the country and the natural diffi- 
culties of communication preclude rapidity in develop- 
ment. In West Africa the game is generally to the 

170 



COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

tortoise, not to the hare. And several factors must ever 
be borne in mind. Northern Nigeria, as already stated, 
is a remarkably self-sufficing country, one part of it 
supplying the wants of another ; peopled with born 
traders busily occupied in furthering the needs of a 
comprehensive internal traffic. For instance, the river- 
borne traffic of the Benue, both up and down, is entirely 
in the hands now of Nupe and Kakandas trading on 
behalf of native merchants, mostly Yorubas, at Lokoja. 
There is an active overland trade between the Benue 
region, north towards Kano and Bauchi, south with 
Southern Nigeria right down to Calabar on the ocean. 
Native merchants from the north import cloth, sheep and 
cattle, and corn, taking away cash, galena and silver 
from the Arifu native mines. Between district and 
district, province and province, all over the country 
there is a ceaseless interchange of commercial commodities. 
That is one factor to take into account. Another is that 
we must revolutionize our ideas as to general conditions 
and capabilities for labour, proportionately to the needs 
and extent of population. The belief that the majority 
of the inhabitants of Northern Nigeria pass their time in 
idleness, or what approximates to idleness, is a pure 
delusion. Even from the European standpoint, which 
is not and cannot be the African's from climatic causes 
alone, the Northern Nigerian, speaking generally, is the 
reverse of idle. Moreover, if on the one hand our 
political administration tends to root the people in the 
soil and increase the area under cultivation ; on the other 
hand, our roads and railways and the opening of the tin 
mines tend to take the people off the land and to create 
an increasing class of casual, floating labour which 
cannot itself provide for its own sustenance, and has to 
purchase its food requirements. The economic con- 
sequence is a steadily ascending price of foodstuffs in the 
neighbourhood of all the great centres. From this the 

171 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

farmer benefits, but at the expense of an increase in 
the production of raw material for the export trade with 
Europe. The Northern Nigerian farmer will grow the 
crop which it pays him best to grow, and if he sees a 
larger profit in corn for local consumption than in ground- 
nuts or cotton for export, he will grow corn. These 
economic questions do not appear to me to be given 
their due proportion in the estimates which are made. 
The whole country is in a state of transition, and it 
must be given breathing space in which to adjust itself. 
Patience and statesmanship are the main necessities of 
the moment. Sir Henry Hesketh-Bell, who takes a keen 
interest in all questions of economic development, may be 
trusted to do all that is humanly possible to encourage 
the commercial progress of the territory. 

The outsider who attempts any detailed investigation 
of trade conditions in Northern Nigeria must be pre- 
pared to walk as delicately as any Agag, and even then 
he is pretty sure to ruffle somebody's feelings. The fact 
of the matter is, that the paramount position held by 
the Niger Company — ^the " monopoly " as some call it, 
although it hardly amounts to that and must decreasingly 
do so — ^is a very sore point with many of the of&cials. 
The aims of the latter and the aims of the company 
necessarily diverge, but there is, I think, a tendency on 
the part of some of the officials to forget the fact that the 
Niger Company's enterprise is the explanation of our 
presence in the country. One very sore point is the 
question of " cash " for produce," and this affects not 
the Niger Company only, but the other merchants. The 
official case is, that the natives desire cash for their 
produce, but that the merchants will not pay cash, or 
pay as little cash as possible, because they make a very 
much larger profit on the barter business ; that this 
strangles trade development by discouraging the native 
producer, who is automatically forced to accept goods 

172 



COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT 

he often does not require, and must afterwards sell at 
a loss in order to get the cash he wants.' Indeed, the 
official case goes further. It is contended not only that 
the naerchants will not buy produce against cash when 
asked for cash, but on occasion actually refuse to sell 
goods against cash offered by the native, demanding 
produce in lieu thereof. For example, if a native has 
sold his produce against cloth and then, possessing some 
loose cash, desires to purchase, shall we say, earthenware 
or salt, he is told that his cash will not be accepted, but 
that he must bring shea-nuts or ground-nuts, or whatever 
may be the product out of which the merchant can make 
the biggest margin of profit. Instances are given of 
merchants having refused to sell salt to natives for cash ; 
of natives being able to buy cloth in the open market for 
actually less than the merchants reckon in paying the 
native producers,' and so on. Why, it is urged, should 
the political officer encourage the native to bring produce 
for sale to the merchant when all he will get is cloth that 
he must sell at a loss in the market in order to get silver 
to pay his taxes ? Hence we arrive at a point when, 
as in the last published Government Report, the " per- 
nicious barter system " is denounced, lock, stock, and 
barrel. The views of the merchants are various. In 
certain quarters the official allegations are altogether 
denied. In others it is contended that the barter trade 
is the best means of getting into touch with the actual 
native trader ; that it would not pay to import cash to 
buy rough produce like shea-nuts or ground-nuts, which 
in many cases are all the natives have to offer ; that the 
out-stations are in charge of native clerks from the coast, 
who cannot be trusted with cash ; that the native gets 
as good value in goods as he does in cash, and so on. 
Proceeding from the defensive to the aggressive, many of 
the merchants contend that competition, and competition 
alone, can be expected to put large quantities of cash 

173 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

into commercial circulation, and that the Government, 
instead of fostering competition by encouraging new- 
comers, and especially the small man, to go into the 
country, handicaps the merchant by disproportionately 
heavy taxes. The £20 trading licence for every trading 
station, even far away in the bush, is particularly resented. 
It is pointed out that if the Administration of Southern 
Nigeria, whose economic resources are so much richer, 
makes no such charge, it is preposterous that the Admini- 
stration of Northern Nigeria, whose economic fortune, 
in the European sense, depends so largely upon the 
growth of trade, should do so. One firm of merchants 
showed me their books, which disclosed in rent, assessment, 
and licences a total annual charge of £150 for a single 
station. No doubt there is much to be said on both 
sides, and each side has a case. It was, for instance, 
proved to my satisfaction that in certain instances cash 
had undoubtedly been refused to native traders bringing 
produce to the merchant stores for sale, and that, in 
other instances, when cash had been given, the prices 
paid, as compared with the local price governing mer- 
chandise, was so much less as practically to drive the 
native to accept merchandise. On the other hand, to 
dub as " pernicious " the barter system, which is respon- 
sible for the vast bulk of the trade that provides the 
Government all over West Africa with such large revenue, 
must appear a straining of the use of language ; nor does 
the Administration, I think, allow sufficiently for the 
innumerable difficulties which the merchant has to face 
in Northern Nigeria. For example, in many of the out- 
stations produce has often to be stored for six months or 
more, depreciating all the time, before the state of the river 
permits of its shipment. But, after all, cash is spreading 
rapidly, and the key to the situation undoubtedly lies 
in competition. The more the Administration can do to 
attract new blood the better will be the all-round results. 

174 



CHAPTER XVI 

MINING DEVELOPMENT AND THE BAUCHI PLATEAU 

There appears to be no doubt that Nigeria is a highly 
mineraUzed country. Iron exists in considerable quanti- 
ties and in many districts, in Southern but more particu- 
larly in Northern Nigeria. In the Southern Protectorate 
large deposits of lignite have been discovered 40 miles 
inland from Onitsha, and require more than a passing 
mention. 

Lignite, as is well known, stands about halfway 
between wood and coal. It forms an excellent combustible, 
and if it can be produced in the proper form for the purpose, 
it would be invaluable for the Nigerian railways and for 
the steamers and steamboats plying up and down the river, 
besides saving the Administration, which is a large im- 
porter of coal, much expense. The first experiments made 
with the raw material, as extracted, by the Marine Depart- 
ment, the Northern Nigerian Railway, and the Niger 
Company were not altogether satisfactory, which is, 
perhaps, not surprising. The Imperial Institute in London 
is giving close attention to the matter. That the deposits 
are of commercial value is undoubted. An analysis of the 
Nigerian lignite and a personal investigation of lignite 
deposits in Bohemia and elsewhere, conducted by Pro- 
fessor Wyndham Dunstan, the Director of the Institute, 
have shown that the Nigerian article is virtually identical 
with the German and Austrian. Lignite is extensively 
used in Germany, where it is manufactured into briquettes, 
and excellent briquettes have been made by a German 

175 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

firm from specimens of the Nigerian lignite supplied by the 
Institute. It is probable that the difficulties experienced 
locally in utilizing the material in its raw state would 
vanish if the necessary machinery for the manufacture of 
briquettes could be erected at or near Asaba. Meantime 
the Administration has had a road constructed from Asaba 
to the lignite-fields. 

Great importance is attached locally to the Udi 
deposits, specimens of which I was able to examine. To 
the non-expert eye they have every appearance of rather 
dirty-looking coaL Credit for this discovery is wholly due 
to the mineral survey party sent out by the Imperial 
Institute under Mr. Kitson. I am told that the deposits 
cover an area of no less than five square miles. To work 
them commercially a railway between Onitsha and Udi 
will, of course, be necessary. The Udi district can hardly 
be described as " open " at the moment, but a metalled 
road to connect it with Onitsha is in a fair way of being 
completed. 

There can be little doubt that in these deposits the 
Administration has a valuable source of potential revenue, 
and that the Colonial Office will be called upon before long 
to come to a decision as to the best means of reaping ad- 
vantage therefrom. It is an open secret that demands for 
prospecting licences and even for concessions are already 
being made. In some quarters the opinion is entertained 
that the home and local authorities would be well advised 
to refuse to part with control over the fields, but, for some 
years to come at any rate, to let the Southern Nigeria 
Administration itself develop them. There seems to be 
no reason why these deposits of fuel should not be made 
to play as important a part in the future economy of 
West Africa as the Nile Sudd appears likely to do in the 
economy of Egypt and the Sudan. 

Mineral oil has also been discovered in the Southern 
Protectorate, but the extravagant hopes held out of being 

176 



MINERAL RICHES 

able to work the latter at a profit seem in a fair way of 
being abandoned, and the financial assistance lent by the 
Administration has not so far justified itself. West Africa 
is a peculiar country and is apt to turn the tables upon 
the company promoter with a disconcerting completeness. 
In the Northern Protectorate salt exists in Bornu, Sokoto, 
Muri, and Borgu. Monazite has been found, although 
not in large deposits, in Nassarawa and Ilorin. Mica 
and kaolin occur in Kano. Tourmaline has been found 
in Bassa. Kabba contains limestone deposits favourably 
reported upon by the officers of the Imperial Institute as 
suitable for agricultural purposes and the preparation of 
mortar. Certain parts of Muri are rich in galena, con- 
taining lead and silver. I am told that quite recently 
extensive supplies of silver have been discovered in the 
same district, the natives of which have, of course, been 
trading in both silver and in lead for many years. Rumours 
of the existence of gold and copper have not so far, to my 
knowledge, been justified. Of precious stones, I have 
only heard of small garnets being won, although I was 
shown a handful of inferior diamonds supposedly dis- 
covered in Southern Nigeria, and the blue clay formation 
certainly exists in some parts of Bauchi. A number of 
mineral surveys have been carried out by the Imperial 
Institute, but the potentialities of the vast bulk of the 
country are still unknown. 

The chief discoveries have been concerned with tin. 
The industry was originally, and in restricted form, a 
native one, and has a somewhat romantic history. Its 
brief outlines, obtained from conversation with the 
native authorities of Liruei-n-Kano and Liruei-n-Delma, 
are as follows. Some eighty years ago the people of the 
former place, a small town in the south-east of Kano 
Province, whose inhabitants carried on an iron smelting 
industry under the direction of an able woman, Sariki, 
found the white metal. They ascertained that it possessed 

177 N 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

a trading value. They invented an ingenious but simple 
method of treating and producing it in an exceedingly pure 
form, which remained a secret among the members of the 
ruling family and their adherents, but which was explained 
to me by them in detail, by the side of one of their furnaces 
at Liruei-n-Kano. After honeycombing the neighbour- 
hood of Liruei-n-Kano with vertical pits, they wandered 
in course of time over the whole stanniferous area, 
washing and digging in the beds, as far south as the tenth 
parallel. Further than that they could not move owing 
to the hostility of the pagan tribes. Tin, in thin, rounded 
rods, became a regular article of sale in the markets. 

The first sample of tin ore was sent home by Sir William 
Wallace, then Acting High Commissioner, in 1902. It 
was examined by the Imperial Institute and was found to 
contain over 80 per cent, of tin di-oxide, equal to about 
64 per cent, of metallic tin. From that time onwards the 
Niger Company which, under the arrangement contracted 
with the Imperial Government at the time of the abroga- 
tion of the Charter, stands to gain very largely through the 
development of the mineral resources of the Protectorate, 
has spent considerable sums — at first without return — in 
proving and in encouraging the industry. To the com- 
pany is due the fact that the field has been opened out at 
all. It is but fair to state this because the company is 
the butt of much criticism in Northern Nigeria, and in 
some respects, I think, criticism inspired by jealousy of 
its own remarkable enterprise. In the last three or four 
years no fewer than eighty-two companies have been 
floated to exploit Northern Nigeria tin with a total 
capital of ;f 3,792, 132.* Hardly a week passes but that 
some fresh company is not floated, or the attempt made 
to do so. It has, therefore, become a very big thing 

* In the case of some of these companies, such as the West African Mines, 
Ltd., the Anglo-Continental Mines Company, Ltd., etc., only a part of their 
capital is invested in the tin mines. 

178 



THE TIN INDUSTRY 

indeed, and an outside non-expert opinion may be of some 
use from the point of view of the " man in the street " at 
home. The country is flooded with prospectors, on the 
whole of a much better type than is usually attracted to a 
new mining region, and the Government, under guarantee 
from the Niger Company, are now building a light railway 
in the direction of the principal deposits. 

Needless to say, there has been the usual amount of 
swindling, and, perhaps, more than the usual amount of 
l5nng. Tin has been located in districts where there never 
was and never will be the slightest vestige of tin ; imaginary 
" bore-holes " have been sunk and companies have been 
formed in London on the strength of utterly fraudulent 
reports. Statements have been issued proclaiming that 
the country is self-supporting for the white prospector in 
the matter of supplies, which is totally untrue ; and that 
it is a health resort, which is equally false. Young fellows 
have been sent out on agreements which are a disgrace to 
those who drew them up, and in some cases, their bones 
are rotting in the ground. An unpleasant feature of the 
affair has been the indecent precipitancy with which in 
certain instances ex-Government officials have iden- 
tified themselves with syndicates formed in London, a 
practice which appears to be growing and which is to be 
deprecated in the interest of the high standard and general 
purity of our public service.* No doubt these incidents 
are common in the initial stages of every such enterprise. 
They are none the less to be deplored. 

The western portion of the Bauchi province is the true 

* Perhaps the above remarks are a little too sweeping. It has been brought 
to my knowledge that in one such case where permission was sought by an 
experienced ex-Government official and granted by the authorities, the former's 
action was, as a matter of fact, twice instrumental in preventing a fraudulent 
concern from being unloaded upon the public ; and no doubt there is something 
to be said in favour of the practice from that point of view, arguing from an 
isolated case. But I must adhere to the opinion that, speaking generally, the 
practice is objectionable, and lends itself to incidents which are calculated to 
impair the very high standard of public service of which Great Britain rightly 
makes a boast. 

179 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

centre of the nascent industry. The country about here 
is wild and beautiful, broken by mountain ranges which 
cannot always be negotiated on horseback, and rising 
to a considerable height, up to 5000 feet round about 
Bukuru and Pankshin. Anything more at variance with 
the forest regions of the south it would be impossible to 
imagine. The whole province is well watered, and the 
mineral section lies in the watershed of three fluvial 
systems, one feeding the Chad of which the Delimi (or 
Bunga) is the most important ; another the Benue, of 
which the Gongola, Kaddera and Sango are the principal 
contributory offshoots ; another the Niger, through its 
tributary the Kaduna which branches out into a fan of 
numerous lesser streams. Naraguta, on the Delimi — 
where most of the mining is actually concentrated — is 
situate almost at the heart of these three systems. There 
appears to be no bed of tin-bearing wash over the whole 
country, but for centuries upon centuries hundreds of feet 
of rock — chiefly granite of sorts, with gneiss and basalt — 
have been denuded by the action of the weather, and the 
tin discovered is the concentration of the tin disseminated 
throughout those rocks which has been washed into the 
beds of the rivers. Practically (there is one known 
exception, perhaps two) all the tin as yet discovered is 
alluvial, and there is virtually no alluvial tin except in the 
river-beds themselves. It occurs in patches, which ex- 
plains, although it does not excuse, the flamboyant 
statements issued on the strength of specific returns, over 
a given area, from washings. A company may have 
secured a licence, or a lease, over a wide area in one parti- 
cular corner of which one or more of these patches has 
been met with. The returns from washings in these 
patches, some of which are very rich, are made to apply 
in prospectus-framing to the whole area, when the bulk of 
it may be virgin not only of tin in payable quantities, but 
of any trace of tin at all. 

180 



THE TIN INDUSTRY 

It is unwise to dogmatize about a new country where 
further discoveries may give a different complexion to the 
situation. But in the present state of our knowledge, the 
statements describing Northern Nigeria as the " richest tin 
field in the world," are, to put it mildly, a manifest 
exaggeration, and the happiest thing which could happen 
to the country and to the industry would be a cessation 
of the " boom." It may be fairly urged that the Govern- 
ment's business is not the protection of the home investor. 
All the same, it is not in the public interest that Northern 
Nigeria should get a bad name, through wild-cat schemes 
and dishonest finance. Five years hence a boom may be 
justified by results. At present it is not. Disinterested 
expert opinion on the spot estimates the eventual output 
of the discovered field at 5000 tons per annum. It is 
always possible that further and valuable deposits may be 
struck. On the other hand, the life of an alluvial tin mine 
is, by general consent, a short one, and ten years will 
probably cover the life of the existing mines. Under the 
circumstances it is very evident that a great number of 
the companies which have been floated are over-capitalized 
and will never pay an honest dividend. Companies with 
a small capital, whose property is a good one and favour- 
ably situated, have every chance of doing so. For the 
small man, working with a modest capital, who is fortunate 
enough to select a good site and who is prepared to come 
in and do the actual mining, the prospects, I should say, 
are distinctly good ; and prospectors of that sort could 
count upon receiving every assistance from the Adminis- 
tration, which is anxious to encourage them. For two 
energetic men — it is always better to be d deux out here — 
a capital of ^^3000 would be ample, and the conditions 
made to licence and lease-holders are not onerous, although 
the staff for dealing with applications is too small, en- 
tailing vexatious delays. There is no serious labour 
trouble, and there is not likely to be any, provided the 

181 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

natives are properly treated. The representative of the 
Niger Company, who has considerable knowledge of the 
country and whom I saw at Joss — a beautiful station 
reflecting the greatest possible credit upon the company 
and its local staff — ^was very emphatic on this point, and 
his views were borne out by the most experienced people 
I consulted. In this connection I feel impelled to remark 
that both from the political point of view, as from the 
standpoint of the interests and progress of the industry 
itself — not to mention other considerations — ^it is abso- 
lutely essential that abusive acts, such as the incident 
which occurred at the close of last year at Maiwa, should be 
punished with exemplary severity. On that occasion the 
guilty party escaped with a substantial fine. Should any- 
thing of the sort recur, expulsion from the country ought to 
accompany the fine. The Bauchi province is not yet entirely 
"held," and much of it is peopled by very shy and timid 
pagan tribes. These are amenable under just treatment to 
regular labour on short terms and prompt pay, as has been 
proved in the final stages of the completion of the Riga- 
Chikum-Naraguta road, although such labour is quite 
foreign to them. Harsh and unjust handling would send 
them flying to the inaccessible hills. While on this subject 
I am also bound to say that the political staff of the Bauchi 
province is hopelessly and dangerously undermanned, or 
was when I left the country last January. It is tempting 
Providence to allow three hundred white prospectors to go 
wandering over the face of a vast country like this (27,000 
square miles) with a political staff amounting to no more 
than thirteen all told ; and that number, a purely nominal 
one, be it stated. Twenty political officers at least should 
be permanently on duty in the province. 

The question of transport has been a difficult one and 
still remains so. The situation has been somewhat 
alleviated by the construction of a road connecting 
Naraguta with the Baro-Kano railway at Riga-Chikum, 

182 



TRANSPORT TO THE TIN MINES 

although, following that road for its whole (then) com- 
pleted length, I fail to see for my part that it will be of 
much use in the rains without a series of pontoons over 
the rivers which cut it at frequent intervals, and no measure 
of the kind was in contemplation last January. Possibly 
the situation has changed since. The scarcity and the 
distance of the villages and, consequently, of food supplies 
for men and beasts, from the road is also a drawback. But 
doubtless the road wUl fall into disuse and turn out to have 
been more or less a waste of money with the completion 
of the railway which, mercifully, be it said, has been started 
from Zaria instead of following the deserted country from 
Riga-Chikum as was originally proposed. This railway is 
being constructed in the direction of Naraguta. But not 
to Naraguta itself, which is wise, for the development of 
the industry in that immediate neighbourhood is still a 
sufficiently doubtful quantity to permit at least of the 
supposition that the centre of gravity may shift to Bukuru 
or some other spot. The railway traverses the region 
where the Kano tin deposits are situate — virtually the only 
ones not entirely alluvial in character. At the present 
time the road chiefly used for the transport of the tin is 
that opened and maintained by the Niger Company 
between the mines and Loko on the Benue, a distance of 
i8o miles. The Niger Company have established ferries 
across the rivers and organised a system of carriers and 
donkeys. But at best the route is not an ideal one, costs 
a great deal to keep open, and is hardly capable of dealing 
with more than 500 tons per annum. I found complaints 
rife as to the alleged favouritism shown by the company 
in its management of the transport, but I failed to dis- 
cover any specific facts justifying them. Of course the 
company enjoys a complete monopoly of that road, even 
the Government, it seems, having to apply to the com- 
pany for carriers ; and a monopoly is always undesir- 
able in theory and sometimes very irritating in practice. 

183 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

(Apparently the same situation has come about in regard to 
the Riga-Chikum road.) But it is difficult to see how 
any tin at all could have been got down, or machinery and 
stores got up, to and from the river if it had not been for 
the company's enterprise and far-seeing methods. Cer- 
tainly the loudest of its local critics would have been quite 
unable to have coped with the problem. 

Something remains to be said of the Bauchi province. 
The province consists of the Bauchi and Gombe Emirates, 
the Ningi Division, an independent community half 
Muslim, half pagan, of erstwhile noted freebooters and 
fighters, and the purely pagan section, of which the Hill 
Division is the most important. The total population is 
about half a million. In no part of Africa probably is 
there such a conglomeration of different tribes — ^Angass, 
Sura, Tangali, Chip, Waja, Kanna, Bukurus, etc., etc, — as 
is to be found in the pagan division of Bauchi which, for 
centuries, has been the refuge of communities fleeing from 
Hausa, Fulani and Beri-Beri (Kanuri) pressure. No fewer 
than sixty-four distinct languages — not dialects — are said 
to have been noted within it. The men are an upstanding 
race, lithe rather than muscular, great archers and in many 
cases daring horsemen, riding bare-backed, covering 
immense distances in a phenomenally short space of time 
and shooting accurately (with the bow) while mounted. 
Most of them go about absolutely naked but for a sanitary 
adornment of special character. For a picture of primi- 
tive man commend me to the spectacle of a naked Bauchi 
pagan carrying a bow in his hand, on his back a quiver of 
arrows ; on his head, its horns sticking out on either side, 
the gory and newly severed head of an ox — the " Boar of 
the Ardennes " in variation and in an African setting of 
rugged mountains and dying sun ! I observed this sight 
one evening riding into Naraguta from a distant mining 
camp, passing, ten minutes later, a gorgeously attired 
Mohammedan Sariki in his many coloured robes on a richly 

184 



THE BAUCHI PROVINCE 

caparisoned horse. Northern Nigeria is a land of extra- 
ordinary contrasts, which to some extent no doubt is the 
secret of its fascination. The women's clothing is also of 
the scantiest, consisting of a bunch of broad green leaves 
fixed round the waist and falling over the hips and lower 
abdomen. Their chastity is proverbial even among the 
dissolute camp-followers. 

Among these people many customs of great anthropo- 
logical interest must linger, many religious practices and 
philological secrets that might give us the key to much of 
which we are still ignorant in the history of the country, 
and assist us in the art of government. It seems a pity 
that their gradual Hausa-ising, which must be the outcome 
of the pax britannica, should become accomplished before 
these facts have been methodically studied and recorded. 
The pagan division of Bauchi is a unique corner of Africa, 
and it would be well worth the while of Government and 
of some scientific body at home to prosecute research within 
it. The Administration has no money to spare. But it 
is really a misfortune that public opinion in England is so 
lax in these matters. We wait in order to understand the 
ethnological lore of our African dependencies, until German 
scientists have gone through them and told us what they 
contain of anthropological value, incidentally sweeping the 
country bare of its ethnological treasures. In these things 
we appear to have no national pride whatever. If any 
British scientific body should be stung by these mild 
remarks into some sort of action, I would advise its 
communicating with Captain Foulkes, the Political Officer 
until recently in charge of the Hill Division, who is keenly 
interested in the people and their customs which he has 
more knowledge of than any one else. 

The soil of the province is supposedly poor, but I 
observed it to be covered in many places with millions of 
casts of virgin soil flung up by earthworms, and these 
must, when the rains come, enrich its recuperative 

185 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

properties. The province would probably grow wheat. The 
pagan cultivation is very deep and remarkably regular, 
and these communities, for all their primitiveness, weave 
grass mats of tasteful finish, colouring and design ; grow 
cotton which they manufacture and sell, and tobacco 
which they smoke, and snuff, and smelt iron. They are 
also readily taking to the rubber trade and learning how 
to tap the rubber trees which, in some parts, are to be met 
with in every village, without destroying the tree. In the 
plains there are large herds of cattle, which form the prin- 
cipal wealth of the inhabitants, and an abundance of good 
grazing land. The Fulani herdsman, ubiquitous as ever, 
may be seen tending his beasts. 

On all hands the Bauchi plateau is looked upon as an 
eventual sanatorium where officials can recoup, and thanks 
to which the term of service may be ultimately prolonged, 
which, with the keenness which distinguishes this service, 
they all seem to want — ^the Politicals, I mean. Even now 
they play hide-and-seek with the doctors, and keep un- 
commonly quiet when the time comes round for furlough, 
lying low like Brer Rabbit. I hesitate to strike a discord 
where so much unanimity prevails. No doubt it is a 
generally accepted maxim that the bracing air of a moun- 
tainous region, its cool nights and mornings, have recu- 
perative effects upon the system undermined with malaria 
and other ills, and it may well be — I devoutly hope so — 
that in course of time the plateau will become the Nigerian 
Simla and may also contain a population of white settlers 
engaged in stock-raising and, perhaps, agriculture. But 
the period within which these things can come about 
strikes me as still remote. If they are to be, it will mean 
the expenditure of much money, and, under existing cir- 
cumstances of transport and housing, the climate of 
Bauchi has been over-praised. You have always the 
tropical African sun to reckon with, and there appears to 
be some subtly dangerous quality about it which even men 
who have lived in other tropical lands find very trying. 

i86 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE NECESSITY OF AMALGAMATING THE TWO 
PROTECTORATES 

No interested student of Nigerian affairs can fail, I think, 
especially after an exaimination of the problem on the spot, 
to arrive at the conclusion that the present dual system of 
administration, with its artificial territorial boundaries, 
its differing methods, and its inevitable rivalries, has served 
its turn and should be brought to an end as speedily as 
possible. The situation, as it obtains to-day, is incon- 
gruous — in some respects almost absurd ; and the absence 
of a sense of proportion in estimating responsibilities and 
acknowledging public services is conspicuous. No com- 
prehensive scheme of development and, what is more 
important, no unity of principle in public policy is possible 
while it lasts. Moreover, just as each Administration 
settles itself more firmly in the saddle and pursues its own 
aims with increasing determination, so will differences in 
the handling of great public issues accentuate themselves 
and eventual adjustment on a common basis of principle 
be attended with additional perplexity. It is not only 
quite natural, but under the existing circumstances it is 
right that the Administration of Southern Nigeria should 
work for the interests of Southern Nigeria and the Admin- 
istration of Northern Nigeria for the interests of the latter. 
But Nigeria is geographically a single unit, and Imperial 
policy suffers from a treatment which regards the interests 
of one section as not only distinct from, but in certain 

187 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

cases antagonistic to the interests of the other. It is not 
suggested that administration should everywhere be 
carried out on the same pattern. No one would contend 
that the problems of government in the Northern Hausa 
provinces can, for instance, be assimilated to the problems 
of government in the Eastern Province of the Southern 
Protectorate. But that the main principles of govern- 
ment should be identical, and that the governing outlook 
should be directed to a consideration of the interests of 
Nigeria as a whole, can hardly be disputed. Take, for 
example, the question of direct and of indirect rule. The 
tendency in Southern Nigeria, as the Secretariat gets 
stronger and the initiative of the Commissioners decreases, 
is towards direct rule, especially in the Western Province. 
Northern Nigeria has resolutely set the helm in the con- 
trary direction. Take the question of taxation. North 
of the imaginary line which separates the two Protec- 
torates the native pays a direct tax to the Administration, 
and tribute from the people to their natural Chiefs and to 
the Government is assured on specific principles. South of 
that line the native pays no direct tax to Government, and 
in the Western Province the Central Administration doles 
out stipends, apparently suspendable, to the Chiefs, while 
the paying of native tribute to the Chiefs, where it has not 
altogether ceased, exists only by the internal conservatism 
of native custom. Take the question of education. The 
Southern Nigerian system is turning out every year hun- 
dreds of Europeanized Africans. The Northern Nigeria 
system aims at the establishment of an educational system 
based upon a totally different ideal. In Northern Nigeria 
the land question has been settled, so far as the Northern 
Protectorate is concerned, on a broad but sure foundation ; 
but the Southern Nigerian native is an alien in Northern 
Nigerian law. In Southern Nigeria there is no real land 
legislation, and the absence of such, especially in the 
Western Province, is raising a host of future complications. 

i88 



AMALGAMATING THE TWO PROTECTORATES 

Every year the gulf widens between the two ideals, and 
its ultimate bridging becomes a matter of greater difficulty. 
While on the one hand the Northern Nigeria Administra- 
tion has had the priceless advantage of " starting fresh " 
and has been compelled to concentrate upon political and 
administrative problems, British rule in Southern Nigeria 
has been the slow growth of years, advancing here by 
conquest, there by pacific penetration, here by one kind 
of arrangement with native Chiefs, there by another 
kind of arrangement. Politically and of necessity 
British rule in Southern Nigeria is a thing of shreds and 
patches. The last two Governors, both very able men 
in their respective ways, have had, moreover, strong 
leanings in particular directions ; sanitation was the load- 
star of the first ; road construction, clearing of creeks and 
channels, harbour improvements and commercial develop- 
ment the chief purpose of the latter. It is no reflection 
upon either (the material advance of the Protectorate 
under Sir Walter Egerton's administration has been 
amazing) to say that, between them, questions vitally 
affecting the national existence of the people, the study 
and organization of their laws and courts and administra- 
tive authority, have been left somewhat in the background. 
In criticizing a West African Administration it must always 
be borne in mind that no broad lines of public policy are 
laid down from home. None of the Secretary of State's 
advisers have ever visited Nigeria, and however able they 
may be that is a disadvantage. There is no West African 
Council composed of men with experience of the country, 
as there ought to be, which would assist the Permanent 
Officials in advising the Secretary of State. The result is 
that each Governor and each Acting-Governor " runs his 
own show " as the saying is. One set of problems is jerked 
forwards by this Governor, another by another. The 
Governor's position is rather like that of a Roman Em- 
peror's, and the officials responsible for large districts, 

189 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

never knowing what a new Governor's policy is going to 
be, look upon every fresh change with nervous apprehen- 
sion, which has a very unsettling effect. A vast wastage of 
time as well as many errors would be avoided if we had 
clear ideas at home as to the goal we are pursuing, and laid 
down specific principles by which that goal could be 
attained. This could be done without hampering the 
Governors. Indeed, the very indefiniteness of the home 
view on all these problems is often a serious handicap to a 
Governor who, for that very reason, may hesitate to take 
action where action is required, fearing, rightly or wrongly, 
the influence which Parliamentary questions may exercise 
upon the Secretary of State, and who may also find him- 
self committed by an Acting-Governor, in his absence, 
to actions of which he personally disapproves. In other 
instances the existence of definite plans in London would 
act as a salutary check upon sudden innovations by a 
new and inexperienced Governor. Frequent changes of 
Governors there must be until the conditions of life in 
Nigeria are very much improved ; but the inconveniences 
arising therefrom would be largely mitigated if there were 
continuity of a well-thought-out policy at home. 

This digression is not, perhaps, altogether irrelevant 
to the subject under discussion. 

The position of Northern Nigeria is very anomalous. 
A vast Protectorate shut off from the seaboard by another 
less than four times its size ; having no coastline, and the 
customs dues on whose trade are collected by the latter. 
Southern Nigeria enjoying a very large revenue ; its 
officials decently housed and catered for ; able to spend 
freely upon public works and to develop its natural 
resources. Northern Nigeria still poor, a pensioner upon 
the Treasury, in part upon Southern Nigeria ; unable to 
stir a step in the direction of a methodical exploration of 
its vegetable riches ; its officials housed in a manner which 
is generally indifferent and sometimes disgraceful, many 

190 



AMALGAMATING THE TWO PROTECTORATES 

of them in receipt of ridiculously inadequate salaries, and 
now deprived even of their travelling allowance of five 
shillings a day. The latter measure is so unjust that a 
word must be said on the subject. The reason for the 
grant of this allowance [which the Southern Nigerian 
official enjoys] was frequent travelling, expensive living, 
and mud-house accommodation. As regards the two first, 
the arguments to-day are even stronger than they used to 
be. The safety of the roads and the increased pressure of 
political work compels the Resident and his assistants to 
be more or less constantly on the move if they are worth 
their salt. When travelling about the country, 4s. to 5s. 
a day and sometimes a little more is an inevitable ex- 
penditure ; at present, a clear out-of-pocket one. As to 
living, it is a commonplace that the price of local food 
supplies is very much higher than it was seven years ago, 
while the price of goods imported from abroad have not 
all appreciably decreased. So far as the mud-houses are 
concerned, probably more than half the of&cials, except at 
places like Zungeru and Kano, live in mud-houses to-day. 
The Resident at Naraguta, for instance, lives in a leaky 
mud-house, while the Niger Company's representative at 
Joss, five miles off, has a beautiful and spacious residence 
of brick and timber. A good mud-house is not to be 
despised, but the money to build even good ones is quite 
inadequate. I could give several examples where officials 
have spent considerable sums out of their own pockets to 
build themselves a decent habitation of mud and thatch. 
Some of the juniors have to be content with grass-houses, 
draughty, bitterly cold at night and in the early morning, 
and leaky to boot. Moreover, many of the brick-houses 
supplied are an uncommonly poor exchange for £90 a year. 
They are made of rough local brick, which already show 
symptoms of decay, and the roof is often so flimsy that in 
the verandah and supper-room one has to keep one's helmet 
on as protection against the sun. I am not at all sure that 

191 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the real official objection to all but leading officials bring- 
ing out their wives is not to be sought in the assumption 
that married officials, other than of the first grade, would 
no longer put up with the crude discomfort they now live in, 
and would be a little more chary of ruining their health by 
touring about in the rains — at their own expense. That 
Northern Nigeria is not under present conditions a fit place 
for other than an exceptional type of woman I reluctantly 
admit ; but that the constant aim of Government should 
be to improve conditions in order to make it so I am fully 
persuaded. Our women as well as our men have built up 
the Empire and made it, on the whole, the clean and fine 
thing it is, and what a good woman, provided she is also 
a physically strong one, can accomplish in Northern 
Nigeria is beyond calculation. It is not too much to say 
of a very extensive region in the eastern part of the Pro- 
tectorate, that the moral influence of one such woman is 
powerfully felt throughout its length and breadth. Other 
aspects of this question will obviously suggest themselves, 
and they ought to be boldly tackled ; but the national 
prudery makes it difficult to discuss such matters 
openly. The salaries paid in Northern Nigeria fill 
one with astonishment. The salary of a first class 
Resident appears to vary from £700 to £800 ; that 
of a second class Resident from £550 to -^650 ; that 
of a third class Resident from £450 to £550. Kano 
Province when I visited it was in charge of a third class 
Resident, admittedly one of the ablest officials in the 
country, by the way ; that is to say, an official drawing 
£470 a year was responsible for a region as large as Scot- 
land and Wales, with a population of 2,571,170 ! The 
Bauchi Province was in charge of a second class Resident, 
drawing £570 a year ; it is the size of Greece, has a popula- 
tion of about three-quarters of a million, and additional 
administrative anxieties through the advent of a white 
mining industry. These two instances will suffice. The 

192 



AMALGAMATING THE TWO PROTECTORATES 

men saddled with these immense responsibilities are really 
Lieutenant-Governors and should be paid as such. It is 
perfectly absurd that an official in whom sufficient con- 
fidence is reposed to be given the task of governing a huge 
Province like Kano should be paid the salary of a bank 
clerk, when, for instance, the Governor of Sierra Leone, 
with half the population,* is drawing £2500, exclusive of 
allowances. A comparison of the Northern Nigeria salaries 
with those paid to the Governors of the West Indian 
Islands gives furiously to think. The Governorship of 
the Bahamas, 4404 square miles in extent, with a 
population of 61,277, is apparently worth £2000 ; that of 
the Bermudas, with an area of twenty-nine square miles 
and a population of 17,535, £2946 ; that of Barbados, 
166 square miles and a population of 196,498, £2500. 

* Whose administration offers no problems comparable with the task of 
governing a Hausa province. 



193 O 



CHAPTER XVIII 

RAILWAY POLICY AND AMALGAMATION 

To all these incongruities must be added the series of 
events which have led to the creation of two competing 
railway systems, and, consequently, to open rivalry 
between the two Administrations in the effort to secure the 
traffic from the interior, a rivalry which is certainly not 
lessened by the circumstance that the method of railway 
construction followed in one Protectorate differs radically 
from that pursued in the other. This rivalry, needless to 
say, is perfectly honourable to both sides, but it is de- 
plorable, nevertheless, and not in the public interest, and 
were the two systems placed under one management before 
the amalgamation of the Protectorates, i.e. if Southern 
Nigeria took over the Northern line, which it very natur- 
ally wishes to do, having lent the money for its construc- 
tion, and not appreciating the rdle of milch cow without 
adequate return, friction between the railway manage- 
ment and the Political Staff would be inevitable owing to 
the fundamental divergence of method already referred 
to. Moreover, the results achieved by Mr. Eaglesome and 
his staff in laying the Baro-Kano railway have been of so 
revolutionary a character as to suggest the advisability of 
reconsidering the whole policy of railway construction in 
British West Africa, such as has been pursued hitherto. 
I will refer briefly to this method in a moment. Mean- 
while the position of the competing lines is roughly this. 
Southern Nigeria has built — or rather is building, for the last 
section is not quite finished — a railway from Lagos which 

194 




SLE\r 0\ THE SIlJHrrx M Llli (LVirNSION) RAILWAY. 




PLATE-LAVIKG ON THE NORTHERN NIGEREi RAILWAV. 



RAILWAY POLICY AND AMALGAMATION 

crosses the Niger at Jebba, proceeds therefrom to Zungeru, 
the capital of Northern Nigeria, and onwards to a place 
called Minna.* Northern Nigeria has built a railway from 
Baro, a spot 407 miles up the Niger to Minna, where the 
junction is effected, and thence to Kano. Southern Nigeria, 
which looks upon the Northern Protectorate as its natural 
hinterland, wishes to attract the trade of the north over 
its line to Lagos, and desires that the through rates it has 
drawn up should be accepted by Northern Nigeria, and 
claims the right of fixing the rates on the section of its 
railway from the point where it enters Northern Nigeria 
territory (Offa) to the point of junction. The Northern 
Nigeria Administration, which does not in the least regard 
itself as the natural appanage of Southern Nigeria, 
desires to feed the Baro-Kano railway in conjunction with 
the Niger, and declares that the through rates proposed 
by Southern Nigeria are so manipulated as to ensure the 
deflection of the northern trade to Lagos and thus to 
starve the Baro-Kano line, which would tend to reduce a 
considerable section of it, apart from its very definite 
strategical importance, to scrap iron. That was the 
position when I left the country, and I do not gather that 
it has greatly advanced since. There has been a conference, 
but it has not resulted, and could not result, in agreement 
as to the question of what line is to get preferential 
treatment ; and that, of course, is the main question 
which should be decided by an impartial authority, having 
regard to the interests of Nigeria as a whole. Now a word 
as to the two systems. So far as governing principles are 
concerned, it would probably be regarded as a fair descrip- 
tion to state that the Southern Nigerian method is less 
concerned with capital expenditure and with rapidity of 
construction, as with the advisability of securing perma- 
nently good construction and putting in permanent work 
throughout, including stone ballast, fine stations and so 

* Now the capital of the Niger province. 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

on. The Northern Nigerian method, on the other hand, 
aims at keeping down initial capital expenditure and 
interest, exercising strict economy in the matter of 
buildings, both for the public and for the staff, combined 
with rapidity of construction and improving the line as 
the traffic grows. These ideas represent two schools of 
thought, and beyond the general remark that a rich 
Administration may be able to afford what a poor one 
certainly cannot, the non-expert had best not venture upon 
an expression of opinion lest peradventure he be ground 
between the upper and the nether millstone. But as regards 
the respective systems under which these principles are 
carried out, it is impossible to resist the conclusion that 
Northern Nigeria has demonstrably proved its superiority 
so far as actual construction is concerned. The Southern 
Nigeria line has been, and is being, constructed on the old 
model. Consulting engineers in London are employed by 
the Colonial Office, and appoint the staff in Africa. They 
are unchecked, for the Colonial Office has no independent 
railway adviser for tropical Africa, no railway board, or 
department, or anything of that kind. Thus there are 
two distinct staffs concerned, a staff appointed by and 
responsible to the Consulting Engineers in London, and 
the General Manager's Staff in the Dependency. Where 
the responsibility of one begins and the other ends, both 
would probably find it difficult to define ; and no one who 
knows West Africa can fail to appreciate the divided 
counsels, the friction, the waste of time and money which 
such a system must inevitably entail, even though every 
human rivet in the machine were endowed with superlative 
qualities. It is very difficult to arrive at a clear idea as 
to what the average expenditure of the Southern Nigerian 
railway has been per mile, but it does not appear to be 
disputed that the cost of construction of the first section of 
120 miles to Ibadan, plus the capital expenditure incurred 
on the open line and the working capital for stores, was 

196 




LANDING-PI. ACK AT BARO 




GROUP OF RAILWA\- LABOURERS — BARO. 



Sl'C /I. 200. 



RAILWAY POLICY AND AMALGAMATION 

enormous, viz. £ii,ooo per mile. The expenditure upon 
the remaining sections will probably be found to work out 
at an average of between £5000 and £6000 per mile, 
exclusive of railway stock and maintenance. Contract 
labour has been employed except in the later stages, when 
the line entering Northern Nigeria territory has come under 
the system of political recruiting which will now be 
described. 

The great advantage which the Northern Nigerian 
system possesses over that of Southern Nigeria is unity of 
direction. But the vital difference between the two 
systems is this : Northern Nigeria has shown that it is 
possible to construct a railway without the services of 
Consulting Engineers in England at all. Now this is a 
fact which cannot be too pointedly emphasized ; because 
Consulting Engineers are most expensive luxuries if they 
are not necessities. The logical deduction is, either that 
Consulting Engineers can be, and if they can be should be, 
dispensed with for any future railways in West Africa ; or 
that the Baro-Kano railway, without them, is a failure. 
It appears to me that the Baro-Kano railway has been a 
marvellous success from the point of view of construction. 
What are the facts ? The Administration, i.e. its Public 
Works Department, with the help of a few Royal Engineer 
officers lent by the Home Government, has been its own 
builder. The absence of any foreign body has reduced 
friction to a minimum. In fact, there has been no friction 
whatever, because the Railway Staff has co-operated in 
every way with the Political Staff, and the exercise of the 
Political Officers' legitimate duties in protecting the inter- 
ests of the natives has not been resented or looked upon 
in the light of vexatious interference by the railway 
management. I should be the last to wish to minimize 
the excellence of the individual work performed by the 
engineers in charge of the Southern Nigeria line, which I 
was able to admire, and from whom I received the greatest 

197 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

hospitality and kindness at various stages in my journey ; 
but the nature of the system there followed precludes that 
enthusiastic co-operation of all the elements concerned 
which is the predominating characteristic of Northern 
Nigerian methods. And, as already stated, there is a very 
considerable item of expense to be considered through the 
employment of Consulting Engineers in London. In the 
Northern Protectorate every one, from the Governor — the 
Baro-Kano railway owes, of course, its inception to Sir 
Percy Girouard — down to the foreman, has been, as it were, 
a member of a single family. In fact, one might almost 
say that the line has been built on the communistic 
principle. In no direction does the system show better 
results than in the organization of labour. It has proved 
to demonstration what is the right way of dealing with 
native labour in West Africa, viz. : that the labourer on 
public works shall be drawn from the neighbourhood 
where the public works are situate, that he shall proceed 
to the scene of his labours accompanied by his own Village 
or District Headman, the native authority to whom he 
owes allegiance, and whom he knows and trusts ; that he 
shall perform his duties in the presence and under the 
supervision of that Headman, and that for the conduct of 
the Headman himself, and for the whole proceedings under 
which recruitment is carried on and labour performed, the 
Political Of&cer shall be responsible. In other words, it 
shows the right procedure to be that of recruiting through 
and with the co-operation of, and by the orders of, the 
natural authorities of the people under the supreme 
control of the Resident, combined with a form of payment 
which shall ensure the wage being placed in the wage- 
earner's own hand, not in somebody else's hand. By this 
system alone can the labour of the country employed in 
agricultural and industrial pursuits be capable of bearing 
an additional burden for public purposes, without in- 
justice, without ferment, without dislocating the whole 

198 




IssViJi-'E*"'" 



VILLAGE HEAD-MEN. 




VILLAGE HEAD-MEX. 



RAILWAY POLICY AND AMALGAMATION 

labour system of the region. Persuaded of this truth, the 
Political Officers of Northern Nigeria, aided by the ready 
willingness of the Railway Staff, have achieved a veritable 
triumph of organization which should ever remain a model 
to follow. And in that triumph can be read a deep 
political lesson. That such organization has been possible 
in Northern Nigeria is due, primarily, to the existence of 
a native political organization to which we could appeal 
and upon which we could rely. The principle adopted on 
the works themselves has been to give to each foreman his 
own set of Headmen, with their own gangs to look after, 
and to so regulate the labour that no individual should 
work more than eight hours per diem. Built under 
conditions such as these, the Northern Nigeria railway, 
constructed under great difficulties with wonderful 
rapidity and at a cost of well under £4000 per mile, 
rolling-stock and stores included, is not only in itself a 
striking performance — with, I believe, if free conditions of 
development are assured to it, a bright economic future — 
but a political and educational work of permanent value. 
It has helped to bring the Political Officers into closer 
personal touch with the population. It has increased the 
confidence of the people in the honesty of their alien 
overlords, and has imbued them with a personal interest 
and friendly curiosity in the railway. It has taught them 
many things which they did not know before, things which 
will be useful to themselves in their own social life. It has 
brought previously hostile tribes together into the same 
trench, effacing tribal barriers and burying old feuds. It 
has largely increased the use of silver coinage, and stimu- 
lated commercial activity. The same system is being 
followed in the construction, now proceeding, of the branch 
line towards the tin-fields ; but many more railways will be 
required to develop the commercial potentialities of 
Northern Nigeria, and the fact constitutes one more 
argument to those already given in favour of an 

199 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

amalgamation of the two Protectorates, and the evolution 
of one set of governing ideas. 

I cannot leave the question of railway construction in 
the Nigerias without expressing regret that in authorizing 
the construction of the new line, the Colonial Office should 
have been led to break the gauge, and to decide upon a 
2 feet 6 inch line instead of the 3 feet 6 inch standard. 
Apart from other objections, which can be urged more 
fittingly by experts, it is obvious that this departure 
necessitates a complete equipment of new rolling stock, 
and the erection of special engineering shops to deal with 
it. Every freshly constructed line is bound to have a 
surplus of rolling stock. The Baro-Kano railway is no 
exception to the rule, and its surplus stock could have been 
utilized on the new branch line. It is a penny wise and 
pound foolish policy, and, in all probability, the ultimate 
result will be that this 2 feet 6 inch line will cost very little, 
if at all, less than a 3 feet 6 inch would have done. 



200 



CHAPTER XIX 

AN UNAUTHORIZED SCHEME OF AMALGAMATION 

An effort was made in the previous chapter to depict some 
of the disadvantages and drawbacks arising, and hkely to 
become accentuated with time, from the dual administra- 
tive control now obtaining in Nigeria. For the following 
suggestions as to the character amalgamation could 
assume, the writer claims no more than that they may, 
perhaps, constitute an attempt, put forward with much 
diffidence, to indicate a few constructive ideas which might 
form the basis for expert discussion. 

The objects an amalgamation might be expected to 
secure, apart from the inconveniences needing removal, 
would, in the main, be four in number, (a) Financial 
management directed not only to meeting present needs 
but to making provision for the future. (6) The right 
sort of man to fill the important and onerous post of 
Governor-General, (c) The division of the territory into 
Provinces corresponding as far as possible with natural 
geographical boundaries and existing political conditions, 
involving as few changes as possible, {d) A comprehen- 
sive scheme of public works. 

These various points can, in the limits of a chapter, be 
best examined collectively. 

In the accompanying map Nigeria is divided into four 
great Provinces. I. The Northern or Sudan Province, 
comprising the regions where a Mohammedan civilization 
has existed for many centuries, and where the majority 

201 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

of the people, except in Kontagora, are Muslims, The 
ruling families in Kontagora are, however, so closely 
related with those of Sokoto that it would probably be 
found expedient to incorporate the former into the same 
Province, which would, therefore, consist of Sokoto, Kano, 
Bornu, the Zaria Emirate and Kontagora. Its head- 
quarters would be Kano. II. The Central Province, com- 
prising the pagan section of the present Zaria province, 
i.e. Zaria outside the limits of the Emirate proper, and the 
Nassarawa, Bauchi, Niger, Yola, and Muri (north of the 
Benue) provinces. It is not quite easy to forecast where 
the centre of gravity of the Central Province will ultimately 
fall, but if, as is possible, the Bauchi highlands become in 
time a second Simla for the Central Executive, the head- 
quarters of the Central Pfovince would presumably be 
fixed at Zungeru, the present capital of the Northern 
Protectorate. III. The Western Province, comprising all 
that is now incorporated in the existing western province 
of Southern Nigeria, plus — to the north — Kabba, Ilorin 
and Borgu, while the right bank of the Forcados and Niger 
would form the eastern boundary, the boundaries of the 
Province following natural lines. Its headquarters would 
be Oshogbo, or its immediate neighbourhood. IV. The 
Eastern Province, comprising what is now the eastern 
province of South Nigeria, but with its western frontier 
coterminous with the left bank of the Niger and Forcados 
and its northern frontiers pushed up to the south bank of 
the Benue, embracing Bassa and part of Muri, Yola, 
however, being left, for political reasons, in the Central 
Province, as noted above. Its headquarters would be Old 
Calabar, the starting-point of the future eastern railway 
(see map). 

Each of these great provinces would be ruled by a 
Lieutenant-Governor, with Residents and Assistant Resi- 
dents under him, and, wherever possible, the present poli- 
tical boundaries of what are now provinces, but would 

202 



UNAUTHORIZED SCHEME OF AMALGAMATION 

become known as districts and sub-districts, would be 
retained. Thus in the Northern or Sudan Province 
nothing would be changed in this respect, save the separa- 
tion of Mohammedan Zaria from pagan Zaria ; nothing 
would be changed in the Central Province, so far as the 
units remaining within it were concerned, except the 
division of Muri, which would offer no political embarrass- 
ments. The enlargement of the Eastern Province as 
proposed, would in some respects facilitate the work of 
administration and would not cut across any ethnic 
divisions. In the Western Province the principal altera- 
tion would be the re-grouping of the different Yoruba 
sections in their old state form {vide Part II.) under a 
Resident who would reside at Oyo ; Ilorin, Kabba, and 
Borgu would remain under Residents as at present. 
Warri (the capital of the existing central province of 
Southern Nigeria) would become the seat of a Residency 
for the Bini, Sobo, I jaw and Jekri speaking peoples. 

Lagos town would continue to be what the expenditure 
of much money, and the enterprise of the Yorubas, have 
made it, the commercial emporium of at least the western 
portion of the Protectorate, and the headquarters of the 
small surrounding area known as the " Colony " {vide 
Part II.), administered by a " Lagos Council," which 
would replace the present " Lagos Legislative Council," 
and be composed of much the same elements as the latter 
now consists of, presided over by a Resident. The func- 
tions of the Lagos Council would be confined to the Colony. 

The headquarters of the Governor-General and the 
central seat of Government would be the high plateau 
immediately behind Lokoja, known as Mount Patte, 
situated in the very centre of the Protectorate, com- 
manding the Niger and the Benue, within easy steam of 
Baro the starting-point of the central railway, and linked 
up with the western railway by a branch line to Oshogbo 
as indicated on the map. The Governor-General would 

203 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

be assisted by an Executive and Legislative Council. Of 
the former the Lieutenant-Governors and Senior Residents 
would be ex officio members, together with the Chief 
Justice, the Colonial Secretary, the Financial Secretary, 
and the ofi&cer commanding the troops. The official 
members of the Legislative Council would include the 
Directors of rail and river transport, of public works, of 
agriculture, of forestry and of commercial intelligence ; the 
Director of mining ; and the Principal Medical Officer. 
The unofficial members would include selected representa- 
tives of the educated native community, and, later on, 
one or two distinguished Mallams, and selected represen- 
tatives of the European commercial and mining communi- 
ties. 

Possibly, in course of time, the work of the Council 
could be carried out in conjunction with periodical Dur- 
bars attended by all the important Emirs, but in no case 
would the functions of the Council be allowed to conflict 
with the Native Administrations of the Mohammedan 
Provinces. 

The method of handling the finances of the Protectorate 
would depend to a large extent upon the capacity of the 
Home Government, in conjunction with the potential 
Governor-General and other advisers, to map out ahead a 
considered scheme of railway construction and improve- 
ment of fluvial communications, which would proceed 
from year to year and for which provision would be made. 
The whole problem of communications, both rail and 
river, ought to be placed under a special department, 
subject to periodical inspection by an independent expert 
sent out from home by the Colonial Office, and the services 
of consulting engineers in England disposed of if possible. 
The situation financially lends itself, in a general sense, to 
a certain boldness of treatment and departure from ordi- 
nary British West African precedent. Two distinct 
classes of budgets might with advantage, perhaps, be 

204 



SKETCH MAP OF NIGERIA, 

SHOWING SUGGESTED EEAEEANGEMENT OF PROVINCES. 




UNAUTHORIZED SCHEME OF AMALGAMATION 

evolved, viz. a Colonial budget and the Provincial 
budgets. In other words, there would be a central budget 
and four local budgets, one for each Province. The 
Colonial budget would be fed by the customs revenue, the 
whole of which would be credited to it. (It may be 
estimated that two or three years hence the total customs 
revenue collected in Nigeria will amount to £2,500,000.) 
It would be augmented by the profits on the railways, the 
mining royalties, harbour dues, and pilotage fees (there 
should be a system of public pilotage on the waterways) . 
The Protectorate could be authorized to raise a loan on its 
own recognizances of £5,000,000 redeemable in a term of 
years. This loan would be expended in a succession of 
public works — some of the necessary lines of rail are 
indicated in the map — in accordance with the scheme of 
construction mapped out as previously suggested. The 
Colonial budget would determine the successive instalments 
of expenditure out of loans, and would provide the interest 
on the new loan and on the existing loan of £5,000,000 
contracted by Southern Nigeria (for public works in 
Southern and Northern Nigeria). The revenues of the 
Colonial budget from whateve source derived, other than 
from loans, would be distributed by the Governor-General 
in council for the administration of the four Provinces in 
accordance with their respective needs. These needs 
would show marked variation for some years to come. 
For instance, the hypothetical Northern and Central 
Provinces {i.e. the territory which now comprises the bulk 
of Northern Nigeria), relying upon the increasing regularity 
and juster assessment of internal direct taxation, the 
nature of which may roughly be termed a graduated 
property tax, might be expected to advance steadily 
towards the self-supporting stage. When that stage had 
been reached, the surplus would be set aside under the 
Provincial budget for extending the system of fixed salaries 
to native officials, for expenditure on provincial public 

205 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

works and economic research, improvements in sanitation, 
and so on, in collaboration with the native authorities of 
its various sections. A portion of my hypothetical 
Northern or Sudan Province is already self-supporting, 
viz. Kano. Indeed, but for the military establishment 
the whole of that Province would be showing to-day a 
handsome surplus and, apart from the public works to be 
met out of loans, would require — even if it continued to be 
debited with the military establishment — very little assist- 
ance from the Colonial budget. The hypothetical Central 
Province would require more assistance for a time, but, 
as in the Northern Province, the basis of an expanding 
land revenue is securely laid and a not inconsiderable 
mineral development bringing revenue, apart from royal- 
ties, is assured to it. On the other hand, most of the 
hypothetical Western Province and almost the whole 
of the Eastern Province — i.e. in combination, Southern 
Nigeria of to-day — ^produces no internal revenue whatever 
except licences, the amount derived from which will 
assuredly grow but will not become really large for many 
years. Therefore, until and unless the delicate problem 
of introducing direct taxation among peoples — the majority 
of whom we have been in touch with for years without 
requiring of them the payment of any form of tribute — 
were approached, the Colonial budget would have to 
furnish these Provinces with most of their administrative 
revenues. 

An alternative scheme would be to abandon the idea 
of a Central Legislative Council for the whole Protectorate 
and of a new administrative headquarters, the Governor- 
General spending a certain time at the headquarters of 
each Province. Lagos would, under such a scheme, 
become the capital of the extended Western Province (see 
map), and the action of the Lagos Legislative Council 
would extend to the whole of that Province. A Legis- 
lative Council would be created for the extended Eastern 

206 



UNAUTHORIZED SCHEME OF AMALGAMATION 

Province. The administrative machinery of the new 
Central and Northern Provinces would be left as it is 
now. On the finance side the alternative scheme to the 
one I have sketched would be to let each Province con- 
tribute to the Colonial budget in accordance with its 
capacities upon a definite proportionate basis, the sums 
thus accruing to the Colonial budget, plus the loan 
funds, being utilized in the creation of public works on 
the lines already sketched. This alternative scheme, 
amalgamation on federation, would possess some advan- 
tages over the first, and compares unfavourably with it 
in others. 

It will be objected that these suggestions do not take 
into account the present military expenditure of the 
Protectorates and are dumb with regard to the Imperial 
grant to Northern Nigeria. I have left a consideration of 
these two questions until now because they can, I think, 
be taken together. The military establishment of Southern 
Nigeria costs £100,000 per annum. That of Northern 
Nigeria costs £160,000 per annum. Neither is excessive 
in itself, although in the latter case it amounts to no less 
than 33 per cent, of the total expenditure of the Protec- 
torate ! It is not one penny too much, and to reduce the 
number of troops would be folly, having regard to the 
immensity of the country and the kind of political problem 
facing us. And yet could anything be more topsy- 
turvey ? Here is a financially struggling Protectorate 
urgently in need of the most vital necessities ; incapable 
even of building decent houses for its over-worked and 
short-handed staff ; forced to deprive the latter of even 
their travelling allowances, and to sacrifice considerations 
of reasonable comfort and, therefore, of health for its 
personnel ; in a position to pay so little for posts of 
enormous responsibility that the entire political expendi- 
ture is only some £70,000 per annum ; able to devote but 
a miserable £1300 a year upon economic forestry, but 

207 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

saddled with this incubus of £160,000 upon a military 
establishment which has already been called upon (in the 
case of the last Ashanti war) to provide contingents for 
service outside the Protectorate, which would infallibly 
happen again, in the by no means remote contingencies 
of a further outbreak in Ashanti or disturbances in the 
Sierra Leone hinterland. This situation needs to be 
examined in conjunction with the Imperial grant about 
which so much fuss is made. 

The nation imagines that Northern Nigeria is costing 
the Imperial Treasury something like £250,000 to £300,000 
per annum. Nothing of the kind. The grants in aid from 
1906 to 1909, inclusive, amounted to £1,220,000, or an 
average of £305,000. But against this must be set the 
direct profit to the revenues of the United Kingdom 
derived from the profit which the Mint makes upon the 
silver coin exported, in ever increasing quantities (and the 
process will go on extending), to the two Nigerias. The 
average yearly cost of silver in the last nine years has, I 
believe, varied between 2S. o^d. and 2S. 6|^. The coin 
at par value is issued at 5s. 6d. an ounce, and I am credibly 
informed that the profit to the Mint is considerably more 
than half the net import by Nigeria, seeing that half the 
face value of the coinage is greater than the cost of minting, 
plus maintenance of gold reserve and provision for re- 
mitting. The net export of coinage, virtually the whole 
of it silver, to the two Nigerias {i.e. the total exported minus 
the coin returned) amounted from 1906 to 1909 to £981,582. 
If the profit of the Mint is taken at only 50 per cent., it will 
thus be seen that the nation is making a direct average 
profit of nearly £125,000 a year out of the two Nigerias, 
against an average of £305,000 paid to Northern -Nigeria 
by way of a temporary grant in aid. To say, therefore, 
that Northern Nigeria is costing the British taxpayer a 
quarter of a million a year or more, is to make a state- 
ment which is not in accordance with fact. What 

208 



UNAUTHORIZED SCHEME OF AMALGAMATION 

the nation advances directly, it recoups itself for directly 
in part ; without counting that these grants are in 
the nature of a capital investment. Let this grant 
under amalgamation be cancelled, and let the Imperial 
Government, on the other hand, foot the bill for the 
military expenditure (which, as we have seen, amounts to 
;f 260,000), looking upon it, say, for the next ten years as 
Imperial expenditure. Nothing would so alleviate the 
whole situation, while at the same time simplifying it, 
and, as has been shown, the actual disbursement of the 
nation on this item would be considerably less, even now, 
than what it would appear nominally to be, owing to the 
profit made by the Mint on the silver coin sent out. 

As already explained, the above proposals, illustrated 
in part by the accompanying map, are put forward merely 
as a basis for the discussion of a problem of some difficulty 
but of great urgency. I claim for them nothing more than 
that, and no conceivable scheme of amalgamation could 
be set down which would not lend itself to copious criti- 
cism. But that the mush of anomalies now obtaining 
cannot be perpetuated without increasing detriment to 
Imperial interests in Nigeria, I am fully persuaded. The 
existence of two public policies side by side in a single 
territorial area, where internal peace is rapidly fusing the 
indigenous communities, divided by an imaginary line 
which does not even correspond to natural boundaries and 
exhibiting multiple differences of aim and method^n 
some cases, acutely antagonistic interests — presents many 
obvious inconveniences and paves the way for future 
embarrassments of every kind. If these remarks can in- 
fluence in any way an early and serious examination of 
•the problem by the Colonial Office, they will not, however 
open to criticism, have been made in vain. Amalgama- 
tion must come. All realize that. Unforeseen events might 
very well, at a given moment, compel decisions of far- 
reaching moment being precipitately reached without due 

209 p 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

consideration being given to all the features of the case, 
such as characterized the amalgamation of the Lagos 
Colony and Protectorate with old Southern Nigeria in 
1899. The advantages of clear thinking out ahead, and 
of taking the inevitable step before the situation has got 
tied up into more knots than it already contains, with 
calm deliberation, after a full and serious study of all the 
facts, surely needs no emphasizing. As to the man, a last 
word. The responsibility of selecting the official to be in 
supreme control over the amalgamated Nigerias is no 
hght one. The task confronting a Governor-General, 
especially in the first five years, will be replete with 
difficulties. The post will need heavy calls upon tact, 
patience, and a peculiarly high type of constructive 
statesmanship. The only remark I would venture to 
make on the point is this. Any serious administrative 
error perpetrated in handling affairs in the north would be 
attended with consequences of exceeding gravity. That 
is a proposition I think no one will be inclined to dispute. 
It suggests either that the Governor-General himself 
should be personally acquainted with the political condi- 
tions of what is now known as Northern Nigeria, or, at 
least, that the Lieutenant-Governors of the hypothetical 
Northern and Central Provinces should be chosen from 
among the most experienced of the existing Senior 
Residents. 



210 



PART IV 

ISLAM, COTTON GROWING, AND 
THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC 



CHAPTER I 

CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

I HAVE referred to Christian missionary propaganda in 
Mohammedan Northern Nigeria. There has now to be 
considered the question of Christian missionary propa- 
ganda in Southern Nigeria, and the corresponding growth 
therein of Mohammedanism. The relative failure of the 
one and the admitted success of the other are at present 
the subject of much debate and give anxious thought to 
the heads of the Church. The fundamental cause appears 
to lie in a disinclination to face the fact, however obvious, 
that a religion which took centuries upon centuries to 
take root in Europe, owing, very largely, to its ethical 
demands upon man, cannot hope to establish itself in the 
now accessible tropical forest regions of West Africa in a 
few decades, while a religion embodying a distinct advance 
upon paganism but not involving the complete structural 
change in native society which the Christian Church 
exacts, has every chance of doing so. Then, too, there is 
another question which the ecclesiastical authorities may 
never, it is true, find it possible frankly to confront, but 
which laymen, it seems to me, are bound to do — ^those, at 
any rate, who are persuaded that the African race is one 
of the great races of mankind, not intended by the Al- 
mighty Architect to disappear from the scene of human 
affairs. I refer to the physiological requirements, in the 
present age, of the Nigerian forest peoples in their struggles 
with the forces of primeval Nature. 

213 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

All that remains of the Portuguese attempts to Chris- 
tianize the deltaic region of Nigeria in the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries are a few names and the addition of 
crucifixion to native punishments of criminals or happy 
despatch of sacrificial victims. The chief obstacle to the 
modern efforts of the Anglo-Saxon in Southern Nigeria 
and the real explanation of the successful modern efforts 
of the African Muslim, are to be sought in the appeal 
respectively made by Christianity and Islam to the 
patriarchal communities to which they are addressed, and 
in the methods and character of the respective propaganda. 
Christianity in West Africa either cannot be divorced, or 
cannot divorce itself, from Europeanism and the twentieth 
century. It remains for the people of Nigeria, and of all 
West Africa, an alien religion taught by aliens who cannot 
assimilate themselves to the life of the people. Islam, on 
the other hand, has long ceased to be an alien religion. It 
is imparted by Africans. It is disseminated by Africans. 
It has its roots in the soil. It has become a religion of the 
people, losing much of its rigidity and fanaticism as it 
works down to the coast absorbing the true negro. 

Everything is against Christianity as presented to the 
Nigerian (I venture to emphasize this), and everything is 
in favour of Islam, although Christianity, in itself, 
contains more that should appeal to the Negro character 
than does Mohammedanism. The conditions of Southern 
Nigeria are the conditions of the Old Testament. The 
crying need of the country, as of all western tropical 
Africa, is the need which is proclaimed in, and stamps 
itself upon, every page of the book of Genesis, the Divinely 
ordained requirement — population. Vice plays only a 
microscopic part in the relationship of sex in Nigeria. 
Race propagation is the motive force which regulates 
sexual relationship. The Nigerian, incessantly striving 
with the destructive agencies of Nature, responds to the 
instinctive and mysterious call of racial necessity. Infant 

214 



CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM 

mortality is terrible. With the Nigerian the reproduction 
of the species is the paramount, if unanalyzed and, no 
doubt, uncomprehended obsession. It must continue to 
be so for a period whose limit will be determined by the 
rate of his progression in coping with these destructive 
agencies. 

This is not the place to discuss what the attitude of 
the Christian missionary should be to this paramount 
racial need, but it is obvious that his insistence upon an 
acceptance of a sex relationship contrary to the promptings 
of Nature must present a barrier — one of the greatest, if 
not the greatest — to the acceptance of the Christian faith, 
or, perhaps, it would be better to say, of orthodox Christi- 
anity. One might be permitted, perhaps, to suggest that 
those who are disposed to regard the condition of the 
Nigerian forest-dweller in these matters as calling for 
hard and rigid regulation, are too prone to forget what 
Lecky describes as the " appalling amount of moral evil, 
festering uncontrolled, undiscussed and unalleviated under 
the fair surface of a decorous society," in civilized Europe, 
monogamistic social laws notwithstanding. Sex relation- 
ship, whatever its character and whatever the conditions 
of society or climate, is never, and can never be, free from 
abuses. West African polygamy contains many ugly sores, 
and so does the European system. 

Family bonds are equally threatened by Christianity, 
as propounded to the Nigerian, for it trains the child, whether 
deliberately or otherwise, to look upon his parents as living 
a life of sin, thus introducing a subversive element into the 
household. Those who assert the absence of affections and 
sanctities in Nigerian family life assert that which is untrue. 
Native authority is likewise menaced, for how can the con- 
vert entertain his former respect for rulers whom he has been 
taught to regard as morally and spiritually his inferiors ? 
These are some of the reasons why Christianity, as pro- 
pounded to the Nigerian, at the opening of the twentieth 

215 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

century, presents itself to him in the Ught of a hurtful and 
disintegrating influence. And this creed is proffered either 
by aliens between whom and the inner life of the people 
there yawns an unbridgeable gulf, or by denationalized 
Africans who have become in the eyes of the people, 
strangers well-nigh as complete as the alien himself, part 
and parcel of the alien's machinery. As if these did not 
constitute sufficient deterrents to the permanency of its 
footing, the alien race which tenders to the Nigerian this 
creed — ^this creed claiming for all men equality before God 
— is the conquering, controlling, governing race that scorns 
to admit — because, being an Imperial race, it cannot — 
equality of racial status with the Nigerian whom it sub- 
jugates and controls. Between the race of the converter 
and that of the would-be convert there gapes an abyss of 
racial and social inequality which does not lessen, but, if 
anything, widens with conversion — the colour line. 

Finally, there is the lamentable intolerance displayed by 
Christian proselytizers towards one another. Only the 
other day I read in a West African newspaper the address 
of a white American Protestant Bishop, whose sphere of 
work lies in Africa, to his flock. This episcopalian inter- 
preter of the Gospel of Christian charity to the benighted 
African is concerned in his address with the downfall of 
the Portuguese Monarchy and the accession of the 
Republic which, he says, " opens wide every door leading 
to Christian work among millions of native Africans." 
He proceeds : "Of course Rome howls. On October 13, 
1910, among weeping Jesuits, speaking of the new nation, 
the Pope said ' A cursed Republic ! Yes, I curse it ! ' 
The curse of Balaam against the people of God was turned 
into a blessing by Jehovah ; and so, too, will this 
blasphemy be turned into a blessing to the struggling 
people of Portugal." 

Islam, on the other hand, despite its shortcomings, does 
not, from the Nigerian point of view, demand race suicide 

216 



CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM 

of the Nigerian as an accompaniment of conversion. It 
does not stipulate revolutionary changes in social life, 
impossible at the present stage of Nigerian development ; 
nor does it undermine family or communal authority. 
Between the converter and converted there is no abyss. 
Both are equal, not in theory, but in practice, before God. 
Both are African ; sons of the soil. The doctrine of the 
brotherhood of man is carried out in practice. Conversion 
does not mean for the converted a break with his interests, 
his family, his social life, his respect for the authority of 
his natural rulers. He is not left stranded, as the Christian 
Church, having once converted, leaves him, a pitiful, 
rudderless barque upon a troubled sea. He does not 
become, through conversion, an alien in thought, in 
custom, and in outlook ; a foreigner in his own land, a 
citizen of none. He remains African, attached to his 
country, looking for inspiration inwards, rather than to- 
wards an alien civilization across thousands of miles of 
unknown seas. No one can fail to be impressed with the 
carriage, the dignity of the Nigerian — indeed, of the West 
African — Mohammedan ; the whole bearing of the man 
suggests a consciousness of citizenship, a pride of race 
which seems to say : " We are different, thou and I, but 
we are men." The spread of Islam in Southern Nigeria 
which we are witnessing to-day is mainly social in its 
action. It brings to those with whom it comes in contact 
a higher status, a loftier conception of man's place in the 
universe around him, release from the thraldom of a 
thousand superstitious fears. It resembles in its progress 
the annual overflow of the Niger diffusing its waters over 
the land. The extensive ramifications of internal trade, 
now greatly fostered by the construction of additional 
roads and railways and rendered wholly safe by the pax 
britannica, leads to the multiplying of facilities for human 
intercourse among the various peoples of the Protectorate. 
The Hausa pushes ever further south his commercial 

217 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

operations. The Delta, and still more the Western 
Province, yearly attest to the widening area of his activi- 
ties. Not to be outdone, his trading rival the Yoruba taps 
in additional numbers the markets of the north. Railway 
construction finds the Mohammedan labouring side by side 
with the pagan in the same trench. A sense of security 
and the increasing circulation of a portable medium of 
exchange in the shape of silver and nickel coinage attract 
to the great native markets of the Central Province, such 
as Onitsha, for example, the tattoed pagan Ibo and his 
pagan colleagues the Anams, Katundas, and Kukurukus, 
where they rub shoulders with the Mohammedan Hausa, 
Nupe^ and Igarra. In and around Ibadan, Oyo, and Lagos 
you meet the Kano and Sokoto trader with his donkeys 
and pack-bullocks, and even the Tuareg with whom you 
parted company months before in the far north, travelling 
on the roads or camping for the night near some local 
village. The road is at once the club-house and public 
rendezvous for Nigerian humanity. A vast commingling, 
a far-reaching fusion unexampled in the history of these 
peoples is taking place. The expansion of an African 
religion which, somehow, succeeds in investing the convert 
with a spiritual and social standing that at once raise him 
among his fellows, follows as a matter of course. The 
Mohammedan teacher wanders over the face of the 
country visiting the centres of human activity, haunting 
the roads and market-places, unattended, carrying neither 
purse nor scrip, making no attempt at proselytizing beyond 
saying his prayers in public, not in a manner to cause 
obstruction, but quietly in some corner ; waiting until 
people come to him, literally fulfilling the command, 
" Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, 
neither bread, neither money, neither , have two coats 
apiece." The Mohammedan trader or agriculturist settles 
in a pagan village, marries pagan women, enters the family 
and social circle of the community and imparts to it his 

218 



CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM 

faith, the women making even readier converts than the 
men. 

This is why and this is how Islam is propagating itself 
and taking root in pagan Nigeria without financial outlay, 
without doles and collecting boxes. One of the oldest of 
Christian missionaries in Nigeria, a man of venerable ap- 
pearance and saintly character, who for twenty-five years 
has laboured with hands as well as with heart and head 
for moral and material improvement, not of his converts 
only, but of their unconverted relatives, confessed to me 
his fear that nothing could stop Islam from absorbing in 
course of time the whole of West Africa. He was almost 
disposed reluctantly to allow that in the providence of 
God, Islam might prove to be intended as the half-way 
house through the portals of which it was necessary the 
West African negro should pass in order to lift him out of a 
sterilizing paganism and make him a fitter vessel to receive 
in course of time the nobler ideals of the Christian faith. 
Sir Harry Johnston is right, I think, when he says that " to 
Negro Africa," Islam has come " as a great blessing, 
raising up savages to a state, at any rate of semi-civiliza- 
tion, making them God-fearing, self-respecting, temperate, 
courageous, and picturesque." But Islam does more than 
this ; it preserves racial identity. In West Africa, 
Christianity destroys racial identity. It should not : as 
taught it does. 

" Picturesque," says Sir Harry Johnston, and there 
speaks the artist. But the word covers a profound truth. 
A great deal of the denationalizing or Anglicizing process 
which is going on and which makes bad Africans and bad 
Christians, is attributable to the discarding of the national 
dress. Why cannot the Administration and the mission- 
ary societies combine in some practical, positive form, to 
combat this curse of alien dress ? There is absolutely 
nothing to be said in its favour. The West African looks 
better in African dress, the robe of the Mohammedan and 

219 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

of many pagan Africans. It is much healthier for him. 
It is preservative of his racial identity ; and that is, 
perhaps, the most important of all pleas which can be 
put forward for its retention. With very slight modifica- 
tion — such as one sees among the native staff, and personal 
servants in many parts of Northern Nigeria — ^it can be 
made suitable for any form of labour, literary or otherwise. 
Clad in his national dress the African has a dignity which 
in most cases he loses almost entirely when he attires 
himself in a costume totally unfitted for the country, and 
hideous at best. Nothing to my mind is more pitiable 
than to visit school after school in West Africa, filled with 
little boys and girls and big boys and girls in an alien 
dress, to see the denationalizing process going on day after 
day and nothing whatever done to stop it. In the case of 
the women it is not only dignity and nationalism which 
are concerned, but decency as well. The national dress 
of the women in West Africa is classical and graceful, and 
although leaving more of the body exposed than is usual 
at home (except in the ballroom) it lacks suggestiveness. 
It does not accentuate the figure. It emphasizes that 
racial difference — not inequality, but difference — ^which it 
is so essential to emphasize. With the substitution of 
European dress, especially of the prevailing fashion, the 
West African woman loses much of what she need never 
lose, and acquires that which is of no profit to her. These 
things cannot be altered in a day, nor would it be possible 
in some cases for the present adult generation to go back 
to African costume. But it would in many cases, and the 
reform could be at once taken in hand so far as the children 
are concerned. Government could do much. The 
missionary societies could do more. The anglicised native 
community could do most. I believe that if some popular 
Government official, known and trusted, could be led to 
appeal, in private conference to the native staff and win 
them over, the movement once started would spread and 

220 



CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM 

have enormously beneficial results. That many members 
of the anglicised community would be hostile goes without 
saying — that is the fault of the wretched system every- 
where at work. That a body of thoughtful men would 
not, I am satisfied by the many representations on this 
very subject personally made to me. I shall always 
recollect, in particular, the private visit paid to me in one 
of the great Yoruba towns by one of the leading merchants 
of the place. A magnificent specimen of an African, 
dressed in African costume and speaking our language 
fluently, he came with the usual touching words and gifts, 
and begged me very earnestly to take up the question of 
dress with his compatriots. 

And, in conclusion, there is another and a very serious 
handicap upon Christianity in West Africa, in Southern 
Nigeria especially. Under the native social system, religion 
and politics — the religious organization and the political 
organization — ^go together. It is inconceivable to the 
native mind that they should be separate or antagonistic. 
Islam, again, preserves this ingrained conviction. But in 
West Africa the political and religious organizations of the 
white man are separate and distinct. The religious 
organization itself is split up into countless opposing 
sections. And in Southern Nigeria the section specially 
identified in the native mind with the white over-lord has 
for some years past played a discordant note in that white 
over-lord's political organization. Its representatives are 
almost everywhere, and upon many subjects persistently 
hostile critics of the Administration, begetting unrest and 
disloyalty to Government. The mass of native opinion 
concludes there is something rotten in the system pre- 
sented to it, and the Islamic wave rolls on. 



221 



CHAPTER II 

THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

Is Nigeria a cotton-growing country ? Is an export 
trade in cotton, of any large dimensions, a possibility — 
early or remote ? I will endeavour to answer these 
questions to the best of my ability. I am not, however, 
an expert on cotton-growing, and I am in general sympathy 
with the work the British Cotton-growing Association is 
trying to carry out, although, as will be seen, I am not 
entirely in agreement with aU its methods, either here or 
in Nigeria. To that extent it will be possible for any 
one who wants to do so to discount the views here 
expressed. 

One of the earliest impressions one forms out there 
is the contrast between the presentation of the case at 
home and conditions on the spot. The view at home 
— somewhat modified by recent events — ^has seemed to 
be inspired by the idea that if the number of square 
miles which Nigeria covers is totted up in one column 
and the number of inhabitants it supposedly contains 
in another and these totals compared with conditions in 
the cotton belt of North America, then you arrive at a 
conclusion which enables you to speak of the " huge 
possibilities " of Nigeria, and even to forecast that 
Northern Nigeria alone " at some future date " will be 
able " to supply the whole of the requirements of Great 
Britain and to leave an equal quantity over for the 
other cotton-consuming countries." Four years ago a 

222 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

prominent British statesman declared publicly that 
" once the fly belt near the river was passed . . . cotton 
would be grown under exactly the same conditions as 
it was grown under on such a great scale in America." 
He went so far as to say that the native of Northern 
Nigeria was " beginning to cease to grow cotton " because 
he could get British manufactured goods in lieu of his 
home-grown article. Well, between these statements 
and actualities there is a " huge " gulf fixed. In the 
first place it can be said of Nigeria that in a part of it 
only is cotton now grown, and that in a part of it only 
will cotton ever be grown. To talk of Nigeria, as a 
whole, being a cotton-growing country par excellence, 
either now or potentially, is absurd. Three-fourths of 
Southern Nigeria and a third, probably more, of Northern 
Nigeria are quite unsuitable for cotton-growing, and this 
for many reasons. To talk of Nigeria supplying the 
whole requirements of Great Britain (to say nothing of 
the promised surplus) is tantamount to saying that some 
day " Pleasant Sunday Afternoon " excursions to the 
moon will be a regular feature of the national life. Both 
may become possible " at some future date," but there is 
so much future about the date that such flights of rhetoric 
might well be left to the compilers of gold-mining pro- 
spectuses. These extravagances have not helped the 
Association. The sincere and sober persons connected 
with that body are merely hindered by them. As to 
cotton being produced in Northern Nigeria under the 
" same conditions " as in the States, and the natives of 
the country " beginning to cease " to grow cotton, one 
can only remark that they are too silly to deal with. 

In Southern Nigeria, the deltaic region, the Eastern 
Province, virtually the whole of the Central Province, and 
a considerable portion of the Western Province — i.e., 
four-fifths of the whole Protectorate — ^may be ruled out 
of account as a cotton field. The deltaic region will not 

223 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

produce cotton. The forest belt behind it, passing (with 
occasional breaks) from dense to secondary growth and 
fading away into open country, no doubt would. But 
only if you cut down the forest first. To destroy the 
West African forest to any extent in order to grow 
cotton would be economic madness. Indeed, the Ad- 
ministration is working hard to preserve the forests from 
the ignorance and improvidence of primitive man, and 
to build up for the native communities, and in the public 
interest, a source of future revenue from the methodical 
exploitation of its inexhaustible wealth. With trifling 
exceptions the whole of this region is the home of the 
oil-palm, the most beneficent tree in the world, and such 
activities as the inhabitants can spare from their own 
requirements are given over, in the main, to the palm 
oil and kernel trades. It is the home of valuable cabinet 
woods, of vegetable oils, gums, and rubbers, and in time 
is likely to become a great natural nursery for the cultiva- 
tion of plantation rubber and such a moisture-loving 
plant as the cocoa ; never, I think, of cotton. 

In the Western Province large areas of forest have 
been destroyed ; the population is, in a certain measure, 
more enterprising, and a fair amount of cotton for 
export may reasonably be expected, especially, I venture 
to suggest, if certain methods now prevalent are modified. 
The Egba district (1869 square miles, with a population 
of 260,000), the capital of which is Abeokuta, a town of 
about 100,000 inhabitants, is the principal but not the 
only centre for cotton-growing in the Western Province, 
and here the Association has a large and well-equipped 
ginnery, as it has at Ibadan and Oshogbo. Out of 
2,237,370 lbs. of lint cotton exported from Southern 
Nigeria in 1908, Abeokuta and neighbourhood was 
responsible for 722,893 lbs. The Egbas are good farmers 
and not strangers to cotton-growing for export. The 
industry owes its origin there to a Manchester man, Mr. 

224 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 



Clegg, who introduced it at the time of the American 
Civil War. In 1862 the export amounted to 1810 lbs., 
rising in 1868 to over 200,000 lbs., and continuing, I 
believe, at that figure or thereabouts for some years. 
Cotton then began to fall heavily in price, and the Egba 
farmer, finding no profit in growing it, turned his attention 
to other crops. The industry was revived on a much 
larger scale by the Association in 1905. The exports 
of cotton lint from Southern Nigeria from 1906 to 1910 — 
i.e. since the Association came upon the scene — ^have 
been as follows : — 



1906 
1907 
1908 



2,695,923 
4,089,530 
2,237,370 



1909 
1910 



4,929,646 
2,399,857 



The total value of these five years' output amounts 
to something like £350,000. It is entirely creditable to 
the Association that it should have been instrumental 
in reviving a decayed industry in one district and creating 
one in others, and in five years to have fathered an 
export of cotton to so considerable an amount. I found 
the best-informed opinion in Southern Nigeria imbued 
with the belief that the 191 1 crop will be a poor one, 
though better than last year's, but that the prospects 
for the crop of 1912 are good. The newly opened ginnery 
at Oshogbo is said to be doing well. The ginnery at Oyo, 
however, is apparently lying idle. At any rate, it had 
done nothing, I was there informed, ever since it was put 
up, some four years ago. A good deal seems to have 
been spent upon the experimental plantation at Ibadan, 
with indifferent results. It has now been taken over 
by the Government, whose officers, I was informed, found 
it in a very neglected condition. 

Personally, I do not attach, in a sense unfavourable 
to the growth of the industry, much importance to the 
drop in the output. The field, it must always be remem- 
bered, is small, the entire Western Province being only 

225 Q 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

27,640 miles square, and much of it, as already stated, 
covered with forest. In West Africa new industries are 
always liable to violent fluctuations. The drop in the 
maize export is much more considerable than the falling 
off in cotton. Unfavourable seasons, too much rain or 
too little, late sowing, and other considerations play a 
determining part in these matters. Things move very 
slowly in West Africa as a ride. The cotton crop is not 
the easiest to handle. Compared with ground nuts, for 
instance, it entails a great deal more time and trouble. 
All kinds of obstacles have to be encountered and over- 
come which people at home have difficulty in fully appre- 
ciating. The experimental stage of any enterprise, 
especially in a place like West Africa, is bound to leave 
openings for error, and error in West Africa is a costly 
luxury. The Protectorate is under considerable obliga- 
tions to the Association for the good work it has done 
and is doing. 

It seems to me that the British Cotton-growing 
Association may perhaps find it advisable, so far as the 
Western Province of Southern Nigeria is concerned, to 
reconsider two aspects of its policy. Fundamentally 
that policy is without question sound — ^viz. the recogni- 
tion that agricultural development in West Africa can 
only be possible on any scale worth mentioning when 
undertaken by the natives themselves. A policy of large 
plantations run under white supervision by hired native 
labour will not pay in West Africa, and, politically speak- 
ing, is virtually impossible. The Association should 
receive public support in resisting any pressure which 
might be placed upon it to alter its fundamental pohcy 
by those of its supporters who may be impatient of a 
comparatively slow advance — slow, i.e., in comparison 
with the unwise optimism displayed by some of the 
Association's friends upon public platforms. I doubt, 
however, if an export trade in cotton will ever reach 

226 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

substantial proportions — ^let us say 100,000 bales per 
annum twenty years hence — in the Western Province 
unless the element of competition is introduced. Hither- 
to, by combining with the merchants, the Association 
has established a fixed buying price. In the initial 
stages this was a good thing. The native farmer wanted 
the certainty that his crop would be purchased if he were 
induced to grow it. Now that the industry is well on in 
its stride it may be seriously questioned whether the 
Yoruba farmer, the certainty of sale notwithstanding, 
will be content with the prices offered him under the 
monopoly agreement now obtaining. He has always 
the oil palm to fall back upon ; but he has, in addition, 
cocoa and maize. Cocoa is rapidly increasing, and the 
profit realized by the cultivator is a good one. The 
timber trade, too, is growing slowly, and the forest is 
always yielding fresh elements of trade. The bulk of 
the cotton produced in the Western Province to-day is 
roughly similar to " middling American," which is now 
quoted, I believe, at 8d. a pound, but some of the Yoruba 
cotton fetches up to ^d. above " middling American." 
It is asserted by the Association that 4 lbs. of seed cotton 
are required in the Western Province to produce i lb. 
of lint. The native cultivator is (now) supposed to get 
from the combine — i.e. from the Association and the 
merchants, as the case may be — from id. to i^d. per lb. 
of seed cotton. I say " supposed," because I was in- 
formed that the actual producer had not always got the 
amount which he was understood to be getting. As 
regards Northern Nigeria, until the close of last year the 
native had never been paid id. a lb. cash, and I was given 
to understand that conditions had been much the same 
in the Southern Protectorate, except at Ilushi, where it 
was proved to my satisfaction that the amount of id. 
cash had actually been paid. 

The Association reckons, I understand, that at this 

227 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

rate every pound of lint landed in Liverpool costs the 
Association 6ld. I cannot check that figure. I merely 
quote it. But one may point out, that in addition to 
the profit at the present price of " middling American " 
disclosed by this estimate, there must be a considerable 
profit to the Association on the seed, which, upon arrival 
in England, is worth, I believe, between £$ and £6 per 
ton. Moreover, as already stated, some of this Yoruba 
cotton is fetching a higher price than " middling Ameri- 
can," and I do not think it is beyond the mark to say 
that, but for the fact that the Association's ginneries are 
not continuously employed, the Association's profits on 
Southern Nigerian cotton to-day would be substantial. 
It must be fairly obvious from what precedes that if the 
industry were placed upon an ordinary commercial 
footing like any other, with merchants competing on the 
spot for the raw material, the Yoruba farmer would have 
no difficulty in obtaining very much more than he gets 
at present for his crop. Cultivation, under those circum- 
stances, would become proportionately more profitable 
and a greater acreage would be laid out in cotton. No 
doubt it would cut both ways, the native restricting his 
acreage when the price fell, but it may be fairly argued 
that no special reason now exists for treating the cotton 
industry on an artificial basis, that it must take its chance 
like any other, and like any other become subject to 
ordinary economic ups and downs. We cannot expect 
the native farmer to concentrate upon one particular 
crop if he can make a greater profit in cultivating another. 
No industry can develop healthily on artificial lines. If 
this suggestion were thought worthy of consideration, 
the Association's role could be confined to ginning, and, if 
asked to do so, selling on commission, or that rdle might 
be combined with buying and selling in cases where the 
producers preferred to deal with the Association, or 
found it more convenient to carry the cotton direct to 

228 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

the various ginneries. That, no doubt, would force the 
Association into competition with the merchants, and the 
merchants, bringing out their own gins (if it paid them to 
do so), might cause the Association's position to become 
precarious. The first alternative would, therefore, appear 
the most desirable, the merchants being the buyers 
and the Association, the ginners, and, if necessary, sellers 
on commission. Each force would then be operating 
within its natural orbit, and an unnatural alliance would 
cease, unnatural in the sense that one price means one 
market, and that one market is not an inducement to 
economic expansion, especially when the price of other 
tropical products produced by the Yoruba farmer with 
an open free market to deal in has been steadily rising 
during the last few years. The Association has always 
contended that its primary object is not money making, 
but the establishment in our oversea dependencies of an 
Imperial cotton industry calculated in the course of time 
to relieve Lancashire, in whole or in part, of her dangerous 
dependence on American speculators. 

The other point which those responsible for the 
management of the Association might conceivably think 
over, is one that impressed me in Northern Nigeria when 
inspecting the beautifully kept cotton plantations in the 
Kano and Zaria provinces. I was later on to find that it 
was one upon which very strong, though not unanimous, 
opinions were held by persons of experience and judgment 
in the Southern Protectorate. A great deal of energy, 
and doubtless money too, is apparently expended by 
the Association in experimenting with and distributing 
seeds of non-indigenous varieties of cotton. Now, al- 
though one cannot say without careful cultivation, 
speaking of the north, one can at least say without per- 
petually improving scientific cultivation extending over 
a century, Nigeria is able to produce indigenous cotton, 
fetching to-day i^d., 2d., and even 3^. per lb. above 

229 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

" middling American." Does not this fact constitute 
the strongest of pleas for concentrating upon the im- 
provement of the indigenous varieties instead of distri- 
buting effort by worrying about the introduction of 
exotics ? If these indigenous plants, without a century's 
scientific care, can produce cotton superior in value to 
" middling American," what could they not do with a 
tithe of the attention which has been lavished upon the 
industry in the States ? I know the experts will argue 
that the indigenous varieties make a lot more wood, and 
that an acre planted with American varieties will yield 
much more lint than an acre planted with a Nigerian 
variety. Not being an expert I would not venture to 
dispute this. All that I would make bold to query 
would be whether experiments tending to prove it have 
in Nigeria been sufficiently continuous and carried out 
under conditions of fairness to the indigenous cotton 
sufficiently conclusive to place the matter beyond the 
pale of discussion. Even if this were so, I am not sure 
that it could be taken as an irrefutable reply to the con- 
tention I have ventured to put forward. For, on the 
other side, must be reckoned the diseases which invariably 
attack all exotics, animal, vegetable, and human, intro- 
duced into the West African forest region. At every 
halt on my trek from Riga-Chikum to Kano, a matter 
of twelve days, wherever I saw cotton plantations, and 
often enough at points on the road, I made it my business 
whenever practicable to put a number of questions to 
the Sarikis (chiefs) and to individual farmers on the 
subject of cotton-growing. I always prefaced these 
questions with an assurance that I did not belong to the 
Government and that I was not a commercial man, but 
merely a Mallam (I believe my interpreter sometimes 
inserted on his own account the word " wise " before 
Mallam), who travelled about and wrote " books," and 
that my friends could therefore feel satisfied that they 

230 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

would not be causing me any pleasure at all by answering 
my questions in any particular manner — ^that, in short, 
I did not care a row of yams what their answer might be. 
One question I never failed to ask was whether the 
Government had distributed seed to that particular 
village or in that particular area, and if so, what result 
had followed the sowing of it ? Sometimes the answer 
was in the negative. When it was in the affirmative it 
was invariably the same. The Government seed had 
come. It had been sown. But it was " no good." Now, 
I disclaim all attributes of wisdom in this matter of cotton. 
But I beg you to believe me when I say that the Hausa 
farmer is no fool.* 

* It is only fair to state that Mr. W. H. Himbury, of the British Cotton 
Growing Association, has since pointed out, in regard to the prices fetched by 
indigenous Southern Nigerian cotton (p. 227), that the prices here given only 
refer to small samples and cannot be taken as indicative of the general selling 
value of Southern Nigerian cotton. The official report of the Commercial 
Intelligence officer of Southern Nigeria, from which the figures here given are 
quoted, is thus somewhat misleading. But the correction does not appreciably 
affect my general line of suggestion. Referring to the cotton grown in the 
Bassa and Nassarawa provinces of Northern Nigeria, Professor Wyndham 
Dunstan in his recent report states that in making a comparison of the lint for 
the Liverpool market the standard employed is " Moderately rough Peruvian, 
which is a grade of higher price than Middling American." 



231 



CHAPTER III 

THE COTTON INDUSTRY — Continued 

Cotton is grown extensively in parts of Northern Nigeria, 
not for export — outside the Hausa provinces — ^but for 
home consumption. In Kano province — 28,600 square 
miles in extent with 2,500,000 inhabitants, more than 
one-fourth of the total population of the Protectorate — its 
cultivation is accompanied by what can, without exagge- 
ration, be termed a national industry of weaving, manu- 
facturing, embroidering, and dyeing the garments, both 
under-garments and over-garments, which the Kano 
people wear. But not the Kano people alone. For many 
centuries, for nearly 1000 years probably, the Kanawa 
have been famed throughout the great region comprised 
between the bend of the Niger and the ocean as the expert 
cotton manufacturers of Africa ; the most interesting 
region in all the Dark Continent, where divers races have 
ceaselessly intermingled, attracted thither by its fertile 
soil and abundant pastures ; Libyan and Berber, Egyptian 
and Semite, and the mysterious Fulani. Three-fourths of 
the " men of the desert," too, the fierce-eyed, black- 
lithamed Tuareg, descendants of the Iberians, who roam 
over the vast spaces between Tripoli and the Chad, 
replenish their wardrobes from the Kano looms. Through- 
out Bornu, Wadai, and Baghirmi, in the northern German 
Cameroons as far east as Darfur, Kano cloths hold un- 
questioned sway. The Kanawa are not the only Nigerians 
who manufacture cotton goods ; but they are the only 

232 



Wf^:- 



•% 



-^i^^iA: 







WOMEN COTTON SPINNERS. 




MEN WEAVING. 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

people among whom the industry may be truly called a 
national one. Aa carried out in Kano province this in- 
dustry adds dignity, interest, and wealth to the life of 
the people, assists their inventive faculties, intensifies 
their agricultural lore, and sustains several other branches 
of industrial activity, binding in close alliance of material 
interest the agriculturist and the artisan. It gives a 
healthy, attractive employment to many thousand homes 
— employment carried on in the free air of heaven, 
beneath the bright sunshine of Africa. It has become a 
part of the national life, the pride and profit of the people. 
Men, women, and children participate in it, the men 
clearing the ground, hoeing and sowing, the women and 
children doing the picking, the women cleaning the lint 
of the seeds (on flat stones), teasing, the men weaving, 
tailoring, and usually, but not always, embroidering. 
Woven in long, narrow strips, the manufactured article is 
of remarkable durability and firmness of texture. The 
predominating dye is the blue of the indigo plant, exten- 
sively cultivated for the purpose, dyepits being common 
all over the province. The embroidery, both in regard to 
design and execution, is astonishingly handsome, and the 
colours harmoniously blended. A fine specimen of a 
finished riga — the outer robe covering the shoulders, with 
an aperture for the head and neck, and falling in folds to 
the knee — is a work of art of which any people in any 
country might be proud. It is a very heavy garment, 
and it is costly. But it is suitable for the cold nights and 
chilly mornings, and it lasts for years. 

It is impossible to separate the cultivaition of cotton 
from the agricultural pursuits of the people generally. 
Cotton, like cassava, onions, ochro, pepper, ground nuts, 
and beans, takes its place as one of the secondary crops. 
The people are primarily a people of agriculturists, raising 
vast quantities of cereals year after year for home con- 
sumption and export to other districts — guinea-corn and 

233 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

millet, yams, maize, a little wheat. In the Kano Emirate 
or division — as distinct from what is known as the Kano 
province — the population is exceedingly dense, and vir- 
tually the whole land is under cultivation. I have seen 
nothing more remarkable in the way of cultivation either 
in France or Flanders. And it is all done with the galma, 
a peculiar kind of short-handled hoe, which would break 
the back of an English labourer to use, but which the 
Hausa will wield for hours together. The pattern of the 
galma is of great antiquity. It came from ancient Egypt, 
with the original inhabitants probably ; the plough, 
which was used in Egjrpt when intercourse was frequent 
between the valleys of the Nile and Niger, never seems to 
have penetrated so far West — a curious and unexplained 
fact. 

Long, deep, broad, parallel ridges cover the surface of 
the land, dotted here and there with magnificent specimens 
of the locust-bean tree, the shea, the tamarind, and many 
other varieties, under whose shade it seems a favourite 
device to grow a catch crop of pepper. How does the soil 
retain, year after year, its nutritive properties ? That is 
the secret of the Kanawa, who from generation to genera- 
tion have studied it in conjunction with the elements, as the 
Niger pilots have learned to read the face of the waters and 
can steer a steam launch where no white man could without 
running his craft upon a sandbank, especially at low water. 
That they have acquired the necessary precise knowledge 
as to the time to prepare the land for sowing ; when to 
sow and how to sow ; how long to let the land lie fallow ; 
what soils suit certain crops ; what varieties of the same 
crop will succeed in some localities and what varieties in 
others ; how to irrigate the land situate in the vicinity of 
the waterways and planted with secondary crops in the 
dry season ; how to ensure rotation with guinea-corn, 
, millet, ground nuts, and beans ; when to arrange with the 
Fulani herdsmen to pasture their cattle upon the land — 

234 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

so much at least the outsider interested in agricultural 
problems can gauge to some extent. For miles and miles 
around Kano city one passes through a smiling country 
dotted with farms, riven by fine, broad native roads lined 
with hedges of euphorbias and other plants. 

Great care is lavished upon the cotton and cassava 
plantations — ^the two chief secondary crops. When the 
cotton fields are in the neighbourhood of a road, and very 
often when they are not, they are surrounded by tall 
fencing, eight to ten feet in height, usually composed of 
reeds and grass or guinea-corn stalks, to protect them from 
the depredations of cattle, sheep, and goats, all of which 
abound. In April and May, with the advent of the early 
rains, the land is cleared and hoed into furrows and ridges. 
Along the ridges drills are made at a distance of two and a 
half to three feet apart, the seed dropped in, and the ridge 
hoed up. In some districts, however, this custom is 
varied by the ridges being made after the sowing. The 
water lies in the hollows between the ridges, prevents the 
seeds from being washed away by the torrential downpour, 
and allows air to circulate freely, thus keeping the plants 
in a healthy state. A month later, when the plants have 
grown to a foot or more, the ground is again hoed. That 
is the first sowing. With variations according to localities 
there are successive sowings up to July and even August. 
The success of these late sowings depends very much upon 
the extent to which the land has been previously manured. 
Conditions are slightly different with the variety of cotton 
grown, but as a rule the plants are in a fit condition for 
picking about five months after sowing. December, 
January, March, and April appear to be the months when 
cotton is most abundant in the markets. In November 
and December of last year I observed that while in some 
of the fields the pods were bursting well and picking 
beginning, in others they were still in full flower ; in others, , 
again, they had not reached the flowering stage. Speaking 

235 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

generally, the plantations were in excellent condition, and 
the absence of weeds would have done credit to an up-to- 
date British farmer. But the difference in vigour of plant 
growth was very marked — affected, doubtless, by locality 
and manuring or the lack of it. One of the finest planta- 
tions I saw was at Gimmi, to the north of Zaria province, 
and the intelligent sariki (chief) of that village informed 
me that his people not infrequently treated the plant as a 
perennial up to the third year, when it was plucked up. I 
subsequently ascertained that in the Hadeija division of 
the Kano province, where the soil has a good underlying 
moisture, the perennial treatment is carried on sometimes 
for no less than seven years. After the third year the 
annual crop decreases. When so treated the plant is 
invariably manured. 

I found it exceedingly difficult to obtain reliable 
figures as to the average yield of cotton per acre in any 
one district, or the average acreage under cultivation ; 
and the Residents share the view that only continuous 
residence in the country by a Hausa-speaking (that is 
essential) European expert in constant and close touch 
with the farmers will permit of anything approaching 
exact information being acquired on the point. In the 
Katagum division of Kano province an acre is said to 
produce an average of 266 lbs. The average annual 
acreage under cotton in Katsina is said to be 16,000 acres. 
In Zaria province the soil, which is a sandy clay, the 
subsoil being reached at six inches, is generally rather 
poor, and the farmer is not so great an expert as his Kano 
colleague. In some places it is so poor that one hundred 
plants are said to be required to produce a single riga. 
In the true cotton-farming districts of the northern part 
of the province — such as Soba, Gimba, and Dillaya — the 
soil is, however, very much better, obtaining more 
moisture than the higher ground of Kano province and 
producing even finer cotton. Broadly, the problem 

236 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

which faces the native farmer in Zaria province is how 
to increase the fertiUty of his land. Artificial chemical 
manuring is out of the question ; the rains would wash 
it all out of the soil. Green manuring is well understood 
but might be improved. The introduction of one or two 
shallow ploughs might work wonders by showing the 
farmers how the subsoil could be broken up, but the 
experiment would have to be carefully demonstrated. 
The native is only affected by actual demonstration, and, 
so far, demonstrations inspired by Europeans designed 
to show the Hausa farmer how to improve his agricultural 
systems have done little more than provoke a smile. 
The white man has failed where the black man has 
succeeded, because the white man thought he knew 
local conditions and did not. A Government experimental 
farm was started at Maiganna rather late last year, the 
sowings being made in July, if I remember rightly, seven- 
teen miles from Zaria city. This is an excellent initiative 
which it is to be hoped will be maintained. It is really 
Government work. The British Cotton-growing Asso- 
ciation should be spared all expense of this kind. Two 
varieties indigenous to the southern provinces (Bassa and 
Ilorin) and " Nyassaland upland " were planted. I was 
told last November by the official in charge that the 
indigenous varieties were doing fairly well, but that the 
" Nyassaland " was suffering from red-leaf. The British 
Cotton-growing Association was then about to put up 
a large and costly ginnery at Zaria. The operation is 
proceeding, and a substantial quantity of cotton has 
already been bought. I will refer to that later on. 
Meantime I cannot help thinking that it might have been 
.better to have waited a little and set up the ginnery at 
Kano. However, this is merely a personal opinion. 

The chief varieties of indigenous cotton grown in 
the Kano province are three in number. The first is 
known under the four following names — gundi, hagwandara. 

237 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

lutua, or mailaushi ; the second as chukwi or lahai. 
These two are the best kinds, their quaUty being about 
the same. The third is called yerkarifi or yergeri. It is 
of an inferior quality with a shorter staple, usually but 
not always grown where the soil is not naturally rich 
enough to support the other kinds. It is the yerkarifi 
variety, I gathered, which is more often used as a perennial. 
It fetches a lower price on the local markets and takes a 
month longer to mature. Cotton plants are fairly free 
from insect pests, but the following are identified : 
the cotton boll worm [tsutsa), what is described, doubt- 
fully, as an ant which attacks the root {zago), and two 
species of blight [makau and madi). The native remedy, 
apart from constant hoeing, is to light a fire to windward, 
upon which the dried leaves of a certain plant, and also 
dried fish, are thrown. The question of indigenous 
versus exotic varieties here crops up again. One hears 
talk of flooding the country with exotic seed and doing 
away altogether with the indigenous varieties. I refer 
to Zaria, where some five hundred bags of exotic seed — 
or at least non-local seed — were distributed this spring 
after a palaver with the Emir and his principal headmen. 
No doubt it may be all right. From the non-expert point 
of view it seems dangerous. As already stated, African 
insect life fastens with relentless savagery upon exotic 
plant life, just as it revels in nice fresh blood out from 
Europe. One season's failure with an exotic or non- 
local variety, sown by instructions of the Emir's headmen 
in lieu of the indigenous kind, might create a prejudice 
in the native's mind that it would take years to remove. 
Concentration upon improving the fertility of the soil, 
and therefore the quality and quantity of the local 
varieties (combined, of course, with seed selection) 
would be a slower process. It is just possible that it 
might be a wiser one. 

The distribution of the cotton now grown in Zaria 

238 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

and Kano provinces is as follows : Zaria is visited by 
the weavers (or their representatives) of Kano and of 
French territory — from the neighbourhood of Zinder 
principally. They buy up between them virtually the 
whole crop, importing live stock and manufactured goods, 
which they dispose of in the markets for silver coin, 
buying with that coin the cotton. What is not taken 
by the Zinder people is taken by Kano. The Kano 
division of the Kano province consumes all the cotton 
it grows. So does the Katagum division. The Katsina 
division exports a percentage to Kano and consumes the 
rest. The soil of this division compares unfavourably with 
that of Kano, except in the southern district, where it is 
even better than in Kano. In this district cotton-growing 
forms the principal means of livelihood of the inhabitants. 
The total annual output of the Kano province is estimated 
at about 5200 tons — 3500 from the Kano division, 1000 
from the Katsina division, 700 from Katagum- Hadeij a. 
But these figures are mere estimates, and not over- 
reliable at that. The country is too extensive and the 
British occupation too recent to permit of accuracy in 
such matters at present. I was unable to obtain even 
an estimate of the Zaria output, which is, of course, very 
much lower — probably about one-fifth, or less than that 
at Kano. 

As already remarked, the whole of the crop now grown 
is used by the local industry (except the Association's 
purchases this year, which I will refer to in a 
moment). So far this industry not only shows no signs 
of decreasing, but the demand, especially from the 
southern markets is, I was told, steadily increasing. 
The advent of the railway may, apart from the 
activities of the Association, modify the situation ap- 
preciably through the increasing influx of Manchester 
goods. As well-being increases — and up to a certain 
point it is doing and will do so as the result of 

239 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

our occupation — the consumption of Manchester goods 
will doubtless increase, but it does not altogether follow 
that the output of the native looms will decrease. It 
is curious that the Kano weavers themselves think that 
the railway will enlarge their market. I was informed 
that the natives of the south, who have been in touch 
with Manchester cotton goods for many years, very much 
prefer the Kano cloths, which although dearer, are much 
more durable. In the north I heard frequent complaints 
of the quality of the Manchester goods imported. Many 
of them, so I was told, were much too thin, and so heavily 
starched that on the first washing they became thread- 
bare and useless. I saw nothing on sale in the markets 
from Manchester suited for the early and late hours of 
the day. Cheap prints are all very well for the hot 
hours of the late morning and afternoon. But the people 
require warmer garments than that. I used to strike 
camp when trekking at about 5 a.m. or 5.30 a.m., and at 
that time, and for a couple of hours afterwards, I was 
glad of two sweaters over a khaki shirt, riding. When 
the sun goes down it is equally chilly. The robes worn 
by the better-class natives are of a consistency and weight 
which would astonish us here. 

I am persuaded that the British Cotton-growing 
Association is in every way worthy of support, that its 
ideal is a fine one and a patriotic one, and that the West 
African dependencies of Southern and Northern Nigeria 
are very much indebted to it. At the same time I should 
not be giving honest expression to the views I have 
rightly or wrongly formed if I did not enter a caveat 
against any Government action calculated to undermine 
or destroy the weaving industry of the Kano province. 
That industry may disappear as the result of natural 
causes. But nothing should be done by the Adminis- 
tration to assist its decay. Frankly, I am compelled to 
state that from the standpoint of the happiness and 

240 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

welfare of these Hausa people, our wards, the disappear- 
ance of their national industry would be deplorable. It 
would lower their outlook and stunt their development, 
and send them down in the scale of civilization. Their 
intelligence is of an order which would enable them under 
tuition to advance their methods of production beyond 
the hand-loom. While the duty of the Administration 
to lend its moral support, as it is doing, from the Governor, 
Sir Henry Hesketh Bell (who is most interested in this 
question) downwards, to any legitimate effort directed 
at increasing the area of cotton under cultivation, in- 
creasing the yield per acre by improving the fertility of 
the soil, facilitating communication and the accessibility 
of markets, is unquestioned, I submit that there is an 
equally clear call of duty on its part to encourage rather 
than discourage an indigenous industry of great antiquity, 
of wonderful promise, which is at once a source of profit 
to, and an elevating influence in, the life of the people of 
the land. 

I have now endeavoured to sketch the chief factors 
to be considered in estimating the possibilities of a 
substantial export trade in raw cotton from Northern 
Nigeria. There remains to be examined the question 
of price and of competing articles of production. The 
British Cotton-growers Association's debut at Zaria has 
been attended with no little success. They bought this 
season, I believe, something like 60,000 lbs. of cotton, a 
considerable proportion of which, I am informed, came from 
the Katsina division of Kano. Whilst the Association's 
buyers, lent to its representative by the authorities, 
could not compete in price with the Kano and Zinder 
buyers in the big markets, they competed successfully 
with them in the remoter small markets of the province 
which buyers from the native weaving interest do not 
usually visit. 

I hope I shall not be thought desirous of " crabbing '* 

241 R 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

the Association's efforts or minimising what they have 
accomplished if I venture to point out that there would 
be some danger — of which the Association is doubtless 
aware — in drawing too definite conclusions from these 
first and satisfactory results. The taxes fell due in Zaria 
province at the time of the maturing of the crop, and the 
growers were anxious for cash to meet them. The Emir 
of Katsina is a very intelligent man and wishful of en- 
couraging in every way he can any desires he deems the 
Government to entertain. His influence would be di- 
rected to giving a tangible proof of his interest and good- 
will. This desire would be shared by his people, by whom 
he is personally respected. It would be unwise, however, 
to imagine that Katsina farmers will permanently be 
willing to send their cotton all the way to Zaria for xd. 
per lb., when in the ordinary run of things they can get 
as much, if not more, than id. from the native weaving 
interest. If the cotton were bought on the spot the 
farmers might be willing to sell at id. The question of 
price is bound to play an important part in the interesting 
developments which have now begun. Taking year in 
year out, the local price of cotton in Zaria and Kano 
varies from i^d. to 2d. per lb. in the seed. In Zaria last 
November and December it varied from i|i. to 2d. In 
Kano it kept at 2d. throughout November, December, 
and part of January, having fallen from 2^d. in September. 
In the latter part of January it fell temporarily to id. 
It went up again to 2d. in February. The bright side 
consists in the possibility — the probability, perhaps — 
that the knowledge of a permanent and unlimited market 
at a fixed price, albeit a low one, in their midst will incline 
farmers to patronize that market (and increase their 
acreage), assuring them as it does of an immediate sale. 
Personally, I cannot but think that the Association will 
have to put up its price if it is to obtain substantial 
quantities. Competition here, as in Southern Nigeria, 

242 



THE COTTON INDUSTRY 

would undoubtedly tend to increase production, but I 
believe that the advent of the European merchant to 
Zaria and Kano is to be characterized by the same 
arrangement as I have already commented upon in 
Southern Nigeria. There is, of course, what there is not 
in Southern Nigeria, an element of competition in the 
Northern provinces — viz. the native weaving interest — 
and the play of these two forces, if both are allowed a 
fair field, will, no doubt, have a stimulating effect in 
itself. 

Another element comes in here which is worthy of 
note. I refer to the price of foodstuffs. Everywhere 
the price of foodstuffs is growing with our occupation 
of the country. Round the main highways and large 
markets it has risen enormously in the past eighteen 
months. In one part of the Niger province the native 
farmer now reckons upon getting, I was informed, ;^8 to 
£io per acre out of yams. Cotton at id. per lb. would 
bring him in from £3 to £4. That is rather an extreme 
case, I admit, nor does the whole country produce yams, 
and the farmers generally do not appear yet to have 
fully grasped the economic importance for them of the 
increased demand for foodstuffs. On the other hand, 
it is, of course, true that the sowing of cotton between 
the ordinary food crops is not uncommon. 

I have thought it well to describe the position just as 
I read it, and to make certain suggestions, the outcome 
of personal observation and discussion on the spot. It 
may well be that in certain respects I have read the 
situation wrong and that the suggestions made are faulty. 
Prediction at the present time, I am convinced, must be 
largely made in the dark, and they are no friends of the 
British Cotton-growing Association who describe the 
outlook in Nigeria in " high falutin' " terms. It is too 
soon to say how matters will develop. That development 
will in any case be slow may be taken for granted. The 

243 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

Administration is in urgent need of a properly equipped 
agricultural department with at the head of it the very 
best man that money can secure. 

Reviewing the whole situation, the only definite 
conclusions I have been able to arrive at in my own mind 
are — ^first, that all attempts at giving an artificial basis 
to cotton production in the Nigerias will, in the long run, 
defeat its own ends; secondly, that by some means or 
other the price paid to the native farmer must be raised 
if any extension of the industry worth talking about is 
to be looked for. Everywhere in Northern Nigeria, 
whether the personal view inclines to optimism or pessi- 
mism, I found the officials without exception deeply 
interested in and anxious to assist in every way the effort 
to build up an export industry in cotton, and fully per- 
suaded of the great importance and value of the work of 
the Association. 



244 



CHAPTER IV 

THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

Apart from religious questions there is probably no sub- 
ject upon which it is more difficult to secure reasonable 
discussion and study than the subject of drink ; none 
upon which it is more easy to generalize, or which lends 
itself more readily to prejudice and misunderstanding of 
the real points at issue. That moral reformers in England 
and elsewhere should feel strongly about drink is natural 
enough. A considerable proportion of the population of 
this country, of France, Germany, Belgium, and other 
European States live wretched and unhealthy lives. 
They are over-worked, under-fed, herded in insanitary 
tenements with insufficient space, ventilation, and light, 
under conditions which preclude decency and breed moral 
and physical diseases. Their horizon is one dead, uniform, 
appalling greyness from birth to death. Who can feel 
surprise that people thus situated should seek momentary 
forgetfulness in drink ? The drink problem in Europe is 
not a cause but an effect. The cause lies deep down in the 
failure-side of our civilization, and statesmen worthy of 
the name are grappling with it everywhere. Those of us 
who think we see beyond an effect, are striving to prevent 
the reproduction in tropical Africa of this failure-side of 
our civilization. We are striving to maintain the economic 
independence of the West African ; to ensure him a 
permanency of free access to his land ; to preserve his 
healthy, open-air life of agriculturist and trader, his 

245 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

national institutions, his racial characteristics and his 
freedom. We are endeavouring to show him to the people 
of Europe, not as they have been taught by long years of 
unconscious misrepresentation to regard him, but as he 
really is. We feel that if we can protect the West African 
from the profounder economic and social perils which 
encompass him on every side ; from the restless individual- 
ism of Europe ; from unfair economic pressure threatening 
his free and gradual development on his own lines ; from 
the disintegrating social effects of well-meaning but often 
wrongly informed and misdirected philanthropic effort ; 
from political injustice — ^that if we are able to accomplish 
this even in small measure, the question of drink, while 
requiring attention, becomes one of secondary importance. 
The West African has always been a moderate drinker. 
From time immemorial he has drunk fermented liquors 
made from various kinds of corn, and from different kinds 
of palm trees. It is not a teetotal race, as the North 
American race was. It is a strong, virile race, very 
prolific. 

Unfortunately this question of drink has been given a 
place in the public mind as regards Southern Nigeria alto- 
gether disproportionate to the position it does, and should, 
hold. It has been erected for many sincere, good people into 
a sort of fetish, obscuring all the deeper issues arising from 
the impact upon the West African of civilization at a time 
when civilization has never been so feverishly active, so 
potent to originate vast changes in a few short years. The 
temperance reformer in England strikes, often blindly, at 
" drink " anywhere and everywhere on the same principle, 
utterly oblivious to physiological and climatic differences ; 
he cannot see beyond or behind the subject which specially 
interests him and which has become his creed. The use 
of intoxicants of some kind is common to humanity all 
over the world. It responds to a need of the human body. 
Christ Himself did not condemn its use, since He Himself, 

246 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

the Sacred Writings tell us, changed water into wine at a 
marriage feast. Excessive indulgence in liquor, like in- 
dulgence in any other form of human appetite, is a human 
failing. It is not the drink which is an evil, but the abuse 
of it. The abuse of liquor nine times out of ten is the 
outcome of social discomfort and unhappiness, a way of 
escape, like a narcotic, from the pangs of conscience, or of 
misery. People who concentrate merely upon effects are 
unsound guides when constructive measures are required. 
The temperance reformer in England approaches the 
question of drink in West Africa from the subjective point 
of view which characterizes the home outlook upon most 
questions lying outside the home latitudes. Saturated 
with his home experience, the English temperance re- 
former places the West African in the same economic and 
social setting as the European and argues on parallel lines. 
To that mode of reasoning, three-fourths of the evils which 
civilization has inflicted upon coloured races may be 
traced. Nothing is more curious or more saddening to 
observe than the unfailing success of such methods of 
thought translated into public action, in their effect upon 
home sentiment. Consumption sweeping through the 
ranks of a coloured people as the consequence of the 
educationary and religious processes of Europeanism may 
make a holocaust of human victims. The public remains 
indifferent. European marriage laws ; European ethics, 
or nominal ethics, in the matter of sex relationship ; the 
European individualistic social system grafted upon the 
communal life of a coloured people — these things may 
produce widespread human misery and immorality. The 
public is cold and unconcerned. European interference 
and innovation in social customs and usages essential to 
the well being, to the political and racial needs of a 
coloured people in one stage of development, but repug- 
nant to European twentieth-century notions, may cause 
social disturbance and widespread anarchy which those 

247 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

who are responsible for such interference can never them- 
selves witness, let alone suffer from. It is virtually im- 
possible to arouse popular interest. For these and kindred 
disasters are very largely brought about by the unin- 
structed zeal of God-fearing, Christian men and women in 
Europe who judge other countries by their own, other 
peoples by their own people, other needs by their own 
needs, with the best of intentions and with the purest of 
motives ; and outside a small band of students, ethno- 
logists and experienced officials, the public mind is 
scandalized and even incensed if any one ventures to doubt 
the excellent results necessarily flowing from disinterested 
action. It is disinterested : therefore it must be right. 
That is the popular belief and the general fallacy. 

Poor Mary Kingsley, who knew her West Africa as few 
have ever known it and who had the true scientific mind, 
fought hard against this ingrained characteristic of the 
Anglo-Saxon temperament. But she fought in vain. 
Despite her charity, the geniality and the humour in which 
she clothed her truths, she had against her the whole 
weight of what is called the philanthropic school of home 
opinion, responsible for so much good and yet for so much 
unconscious harm. 

" The stay at home statesman," she once said, " think that Africans 
are all awful savages or silly children — people who can only be dealt 
with on a reformatory, penitentiary Une. This view, you know, is 
not mine . . . but it is the view of the statesmen and the general 
public and the mission public in African affairs." 

And again : — 

" The African you have got in your mind up here, that you are 
legislating for and spending millions in trying to improve, doesn't 
exist ; your African is a fancy African. . . . You keep your fancy 
African and I wish you joy of him, but I grieve more than I can say 
for the real African that does exist and suffers for all the mistakes you 
make in dealing with him through a dream thing, the fiend-child 
African of your imagination. Above all, I grieve for the true negro 
people whose home is in the West Coast .... 

248 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

1 

No, you cannot excite public interest in these matters. 
But niention the Hquor trade, describe the Nigerian as an 
infant in brain, incapable of self-control, down whose 
throat wicked merchants are forcibly pouring body and 
soul destroying drink which a wicked Administration 
taxes in order to raise revenue. PubUc sentiment responds 
with alacrity. It becomes at once a popular cry, and the 
most inconceivable distortions of native character and 
native life pass muster. Oppose that view and it will be a 
miracle if you emerge with any shred of reputation you 
may once have possessed. Stones from episcopal cata- 
pults will whistle round your ears. Scribes, utterly 
ignorant of the country whose inhabitants they portray in 
an absurdly false light, and who make their living by going 
shuddering around in professional temperance circles, will 
hint darkly that somewhere in the dim back of beyond 
your attitude is dictated by personal interest. A certain 
type of missionary will denounce you from the housetops, 
ransack the Bible for quotations to describe the extent 
of your fall from grace, and end up by praying the Almighty 
for the salvation of your soul. You will be described as a 
man who cynically ministers to the degradation of the 
negro. People who believed in you will ponder sadly over 
your moral declension. You may consider yourself lucky 
if your best friend does not cut you in the street. To 
disparage the Administration, to describe the English 
gentlemen who serve it in Nigeria as callous onlookers 
while a people sinks down before them in ruin and decay ; 
to paint the sober Nigerian as a drunken brute — all this 
is permissible. But the deafening clamour which arises, 
the protesting and outraged indignation which obtains if 
a humble voice is heard to deny the accuracy, and to 
resent, in the public interest, these sweeping charges 
against White and Black alike, beggars description. You 
find yourself denounced to the whole world as a cruel 
libeller of godly men, and much else besides. It would be 

249 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

humorous if it were not pathetic, because amidst all this 
froth and fury the vital problems arising out of European 
contact with West Africa are obscured, and a force which, 
instructed and directed in the right way, might be of 
untold benefit is wasted on a sterile issue. 

The onslaught upon Southern Nigeria in the matter of 
the liquor traffic carried on by that sincere, but tactless, 
misinformed and pugnacious cleric. Bishop Tugwell, and 
the bulk of his assistants in West Africa, aided by the 
Native Races and Liquor Traffic United Committee at 
home, is a typical example of the harm which lack of 
perspective and muddle-headedness can do to a good 
cause. The liquor traffic is common to the whole of West 
Africa and requires constant and vigilant attention. For 
more than a century, long before the bulk of the coast line 
was occupied by the Powers in a political sense, spirits had 
been exported to West Africa from Europe together with 
cotton goods, woollen goods, beads, ironware, hardware, 
haberdashery, perfumery, salt, tobacco and a host of 
other articles. At first the trade was untaxed. As 
European political influence extended, the various Ad- 
ministrations found it necessary to control the traffic by 
placing an import duty upon spirits at the port of entry. 
In this policy Great Britain has always led ; the other 
Powers have always lagged. When interior penetration 
from the coast began and the scramble for Western Africa 
was well on its way. Great Britain's influence was respon- 
sible for the proposal that the import should be prohibited 
beyond a certain geographical limit interiorwards. Thus 
Northern Nigeria was excluded from the accessible zone of 
European spirit import. By general consent the trade 
has been looked upon as a potential danger, if unregulated, 
and nowhere has the determination to prevent it from 
becoming an active evil been so clearly recognized as in 
Southern Nigeria ; by successive increases of duty, and, 
as I shall show, by so adjusting taxation as virtually to 

250 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

penalize spirits of high potency in favour of spirits of 
weak strength. The Governor-General of French West 
Africa, M. Ponty, told me only last autumn at Dakar, how 
he desired to bring the French duties up to the British 
level, and what difficulties he was experiencing in doing so. 
Now the existence of a permanent, outside influence, 
whatever its origin, directed at encouraging the Adminis- 
tration in this course could only be to the good. While 
differences of opinion must exist as to the relative impor- 
tance of the matter compared with other problems of 
administration, I have met no one who would not regard 
a policy of letting in spirits free, as wrong. I have met 
no one who is not convinced that it is right to tax the trade 
just as high as it can be taxed, up to the point, that is, 
when people will still buy and not be driven to illicit 
distilling, which in the West African forest could not be 
suppressed. If Bishop Tugwell and his friends had con- 
centrated upon the potentiality of the danger, and had 
given every help and assistance to the Administration to 
cope with it, supplying the Administration with such infor- 
mation as they might possess of a specific, controllable, 
accurate character, it would have been difficult to over- 
estimate their usefulness from this particular point of 
view. 

But the course they have been pursuing for the last 
few years has been quite different. It has been so illogical, 
so lacking in judgment and sobriety, and so pronouncedly 
foolish and unjust, as to disgust every fair-minded man 
who has looked into the facts for himself. Instead of 
common -sense and reasonable debate, there has been 
violent and senseless denunciation accompanied by the 
grossest misstatements. The Administration, urged per- 
petually to increase the tax, has been cursed with bell, 
book and candle for the automatic result in swelling the 
proceeds of revenue derived from these increases. What 
was demanded as a moral duty has, in its inevitable result, 

251 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

been stigmatized as a crime, and the very men who 
clamoured for more taxes, have denounced the effect of 
them. A trade forming from time immemorial, as already 
stated, part of the general barter trade of the West Coast 
has become identified in the public mind with a particular 
British dependency, the very one where ofl&cial vigilance 
has been specially exercised. A difficult and complicated 
economic and fiscal problem has been handled in so unin- 
telligent a manner that it has degenerated into systematic 
and silly abuse of British officials, who have no more to do 
with the existence of the traflftc than has the Duke of West- 
minster who presides over the Native Races and Liquor 
Traffic United Committee. These officials of ours, some 
of whose difficulties I have attempted to portray, have 
actually been accused — nay, are still being — of encourag- 
ing the trade in every possible way, of forcing it upon the 
people, of thriving on the drinking habits of the native. 
Fanaticism has even gone the length of stating that they 
are " financially interested " in the trafftc, as though they 
received a percentage from Government on the revenue 
derived from taxing the article ! The very Commission 
which Lord Crewe sent out to investigate the charges 
persistently brought, has been assailed with unmeasured 
vituperation for the crime of having rendered a truthful 
report on the evidence produced, and the public at home 
has been asked to believe that these Commissioners, the 
Political and Judicial Staff of the Protectorate, the Medical 
Staff, the Roman Catholic missionaries * — the most numer- 
ous in the Protectorate — together with prominent natives 
and independent outside witnesses as well, are either 
deliberate perjurers or incompetent observers ; although 
the accusers' testimony was hopelessly, even pitifully, 
inadequate when brought to the test of public examination 
and inquiry. In an official pamphlet issued by the Native 

* And some of the Wesleyans — notably the Superintendent of the Wesleyan 
Missions in Southern Nigeria, the Rev. Oliver Gritten. 

252 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

Races Committee the statements of Sir Mackenzie Chal- 
mers, the Chairman of the Commission, as recorded in the 
minutes of evidence, have been reproduced in mutilated 
form, presumably in order to carry conviction of his bias 
with the public. Those who can stoop to such methods 
do irreparable injury to a good cause. What in its origin 
was undoubtedly a movement of a genuine philanthropic 
character, has been converted into an agitation which has 
so incensed authorized Native opinion, that Mr. Sapara 
Williams, the leading Native member of the Legislative 
Council of Southern Nigeria and a fearless critic of the 
Government, found it necessary to voice the feelings of the 
community in the following vigorous language uttered in 
the Legislative Council itself : — 

" I must say that I believe every unofficial member and every 
member of the community of these countries feel bound to say that 
the majority of the statements made by Bishop Tugwell are untrue. 
It is a slander on the Administration, a slander on the gentlemen who 
sit here, and a slander on the general public ; and for a man in Bishop 
Tugwell's position as the head of the Church here — namely, a Church 
which always makes it a boast amongst the native communities of its 
connection as being in communion with the great Church of England — 
to go before the British pubUc and endeavour, by means of gross 
misrepresentations and statements which are absolutely incorrect 
and palpably false on the face of them, to enlist their sympathy and 
induce them to support a noble cause, is not only detrimental to the 
good cause itself, but also to the progress of Christianity and missionary 
work in these countries. ... If Bishop Tugwell will talk of something 
else, instead of this persistent indulging in calumny and malignity 
simply to promote the movement against the Liquor Traffic it would, 
perhaps, be better for the interest of this Colony and Protectorate, 
and the welfare of the Church, and of the mission work in Western 
Equatorial Africa under him. I say that, to my thinking, these mis- 
statements are made deliberately with a view to influence subscriptions 
towards the various branches of his many diocesan funds, a course 
clearly opposed to the true principles of Christianity, inconsistent with 
the high purpose and professions of his caUing and the dignity of his 
office." 

I am not concerned with Mr. Williams' views, but nothing 
could be more significant than this speech — and it is not 
the only Native protest which has been made in the 

253 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

Southern Nigeria Legislative Council — coming from a 
native in Mr. Williams' position, a Christian and a total 
abstainer. The Native Races Committee has been singu- 
larly ill led. It has identified itself completely with 
extremists whose looseness of statement, whose persistency 
in statistical and other errors, and whose extraordinary 
lack of judgment were so painfully apparent when they 
testified before the Commission of Inquiry. It is matter 
for regret that divines of high position in this country and 
Members of Parliament have plunged into the fray without 
exercising sufficient caution before allying themselves to 
a campaign conducted on lines inconsistent with accuracy 
and fair play. 

The literature on this subject is enormous, and several 
chapters would be needed to follow it in any detail. I 
propose, however, to summarize certain points. 

First. The statements as to race demoralization and 
deterioration, of decrease of energy for labour ; of decrease 
in other branches of trade ; of an increase in crime and 
decrease of population as the result of the spirit trade, 
have been totally disproved. They have, indeed, been 
officially dropped by the Native Races Committee. 
Secondly. The allegations as to the evil quality of the 
liquor imported have also been disproved and dropped by 
the Committee. Thirdly. By a system of sur-taxes upon 
the higher forms of alcohol initiated by Sir Walter Egerton, 
the character of the Southern Nigerian spirit trade has 
been revolutionized for good in the last six years. The 
system inaugurated in 1905 imposed, over and above the 
general duty, a sur-tax of ^d. for every degree or part of a 
degree in excess of I2'4 under proof. This sur-tax was 
successively raised until it reached its present figure of 2^d., 
with the result that while five years ago nearly 60 per cent, 
of the total spirits imported varied in strength from 
between 45 degrees and 55 degrees Tralles, to-day some- 
thing like 90 per cent, of the total spirits imported are 

254 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

just under 40 degrees Tralles, i.e. 28 per cent, under 
proof. 

Fourthly. Not only is the general trade {i.e. the trade 
in cotton goods, hardware, etc.) increasing at a far greater 
ratio than the spirit trade, but the amount of alcohol 
imported into the Protectorate is actually decreasing, 
notwithstanding the enormous development of general 
trade and the steady opening up of the country to which 
the former is largely due. Here are the figures. They are 
official and their accuracy has been endorsed by the Secre- 
tary of State — 

Gallons of Alcohol 



Years 


Totals 


Annual average 


1902-04 


8,947,000 


2,982,332 


1905-07 


8,746,000 


2,915,333 


1908-10 


8,626,000 


2,875,333 



Fifthly. The population of Southern Nigeria, according 
to the 191 1 census, is 7,750,000. It is believed to be, and 
probably is, much greater. Thus on the basis of estimated 
population the consumption of alcohol per head works out 
at a fraction over one quarter of a gallon. It is, of course, 
not nearly so great, and this for several reasons. The 
alcohol imported is not all drunk, to begin with. A great 
deal of it is stored, sometimes for years, as banked wealth. 
A great deal of it, in the Central Province and to some 
extent in the Eastern Province, circulates continuously as 
a sort of barter currency. This system, a purely native 
one (in certain regions cloth and tobacco are also used as 
currency) will gradually fade away with the increased 
circulation of silver coin. Then, again, a good deal of it is 
wasted, poured out on the ground as libations to the gods ; 
how much it is impossible to say. 

I will now conclude with a consideration of what other 
steps may be possible to adopt with a view to further 
controlling the traffic. The policy of the Native Races 
Committee and of Bishop Tugwell and his friends has 
apparently changed. Up to the time of the Commission 

255 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

of Inquiry they alternated between a demand for higher 
duties, and prohibition. Some years ago a deputation 
waiting upon Mr. Chamberlain put forward a request for a 
4s. duty per Imperial gallon. The duty to-day is 5s. per 
Imperial gallon, apart from the sur-taxes already referred 
to. " Total prohibition " was officially demanded by the 
Native Races Committee shortly before the Commission 
was appointed. The Committee has now dropped the 
demand for total prohibition, which does not prevent 
Bishop Tugwell's friends and coadjutors from continuing 
to denounce the Administration and describe the ravages 
of the traffic in lurid terms up and down the country. 
That the demand for prohibition has been abandoned is 
significant. Coupled with a cessation of the abusive 
tactics it would indicate the beginning of wisdom. That 
the latter continue suggests the possibility that the demand 
for prohibition will be or may be revived. The only 
concrete demands now put forward by the official spokes- 
men of the Committee {vide the deputation to Mr. Harcourt 
in July) are (i) an international conference ; (2) what is 
described as a system of local option. That is the some- 
what feeble conclusion to the raging, tearing propaganda 
of the last ten years. 

How the Native Races Committee can reconcile it 
with the furious attacks upon all and sundry in which they 
have indulged is not my affair. At any rate, it is a con- 
fession of constructive impotence. And for this reason. 
International conferences on this subject are held regu- 
larly every few years, and much portentous talk is indulged 
in by grave gentlemen sitting round a table. As a matter 
of fact, Britain, as already stated, leads in the matter of 
high duties and adjustment of duties to strike at spirits of 
higher potency. We have difficulty, which is perennial, 
in getting the other Powers to agree to our level. At the 
present moment the duty levied in the French territory of 
Dahomey, which borders Southern Nigeria, is much lower 

256 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

than ours, and smuggling is the result. Therefore, what- 
ever good a Conference may do, that good will affect 
foreign territory, not Southern Nigeria. As a practical 
policy the international conference is, thus, devoid of 
import so far as Southern Nigeria is concerned. " Local 
option " is largely a catch word which appeals to the 
public — always influenced by the subjective point of view. 
What is really meant by it is that a native community 
should be given the option of not buying spirits. But it 
has that option now ! The native community of Ibadan 
and of Abeokuta stopped buying spirits three years ago 
for several months on end, because the people objected to 
a licensing duty, which naturally put up the price of 
spirits and was an innovation entirely foreign to the native 
mind. Any native community in Southern Nigeria is 
free, to-day, to buy or not to buy spirits, or cotton goods 
or tobacco or anything else. But a native community 
consists not of one Chief, but of a Paramount Chief or 
King (when the native state form has developed to that 
extent which, in the Eastern Province, for example, is not 
yet the case), a number of ordinary Chiefs with their 
councillors, and the people. It is one thing for a Native 
community to make up its mind not to buy spirits. It is 
quite a different thing for a Chief to impose his caprice, 
which may be purely temporary in its action, upon his 
people. If, for example, we suppose a Chief desirous to 
please the missionaries in his locality, or objecting to the 
present high price of imported spirits and wishing to pull 
it down, or for some other reason, forbidding his people to 
buy spirits ; then the Administration would be clearly in 
the wrong in supporting that Chief if his views did not 
coincide with the views of his people. Such action would 
amount to coercion and interference with the liberties of 
the people themselves. The Chief so acting would be 
violating native law and assuming the powers of a dic- 
tator, which in Southern Nigeria under the native system 

257 s 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

of rule he does not possess. He could only do so 
backed by the British Administration, and in back- 
ing him the British Government would be making 
native rule impossible and inciting to disturbance and 
turmoil. 

The Native Races Committee's suggestions carry us 
then no further. The alternative line of action I suggest 
is the following : — 

The liquor traffic in Southern Nigeria (as everywhere else in Western 
Africa), must be carefully watched. 

It is not now an active evil in Southern Nigeria. It need never 
become one if certain things are done. 

Those things are — 

A. Frequent analyses of the imported article. Severe punishment 

if bad stuff is going in. 

B. Continuation of the legislation, consistently followed since 

1905, of taxing, over and above the general tax, higher 
degrees of alcohohc strength 'pro rata. Perhaps pursuing 
that still further by prohibiting altogether the importation 
of liquor above a certain strength. 

C. Keeping duties to the level of safety, raising them whenever 

possible, but never so highly that the population will altogether 
cease to buy, and take to distilling, which by the pot-still 
process is the easiest thing in the world. 

D. Not permitting the proportion which the spirit trade now 

bears to the general trade to increase — that means watching, 
and increasing the duty when possible. At every sign of 
the present proportion being increased, another increase of 
duty should be made. 

E. Restricting, if possible, the present proportion, by degrees 

either by the policy of successive increases of duty ; or by 
an arrangement with the merchants (very difficult to bring 
about, owing to the advent of new firms ; but not, perhaps, 
impossible), whereby they would be precluded from exceeding 
in the spirit branch of their trade a certain fixed proportion 
to their general trade turn-over — the imports of each firm 
being calculated on a basis which would establish a decrease 
in the total volume of the spirit trade. This arrangement, 
if it were possible, would have, really, the same effect as 
judicious increases of duty, by making the imported article 
dearer. 

F. The creation of a sitting committee in Lagos — sitting and 

permanent — the members of which would be gazetted and 
paid a small salary : with two branches, one in the Central 
and one in the Eastern Province, and (if necessary) with 

258 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

corresponding members in several of the more important 
centres — ^with the object of creating in each province a sort 
of bureau of information on the spirit trade to which every 
one would feel free to communicate. 

G. Standing instructions to every medical officer to give attention 
to the subject from the physiological point of view, within 
his area and to furnish a half-yearly report to the Principal 
Medical Officer. These reports would be annotated by the 
P. M. O., who, reviewing the whole evidence, would give 
his report. Specific instances raised by any medical officer, 
might if necessary be referred to the permanent committee 
above mentioned. 

H. A yearly report to be furnished by the Chairman of the per- 
manent committee, and by the P. M. O. respectively, to the 
local Government, and published in the Official Gazette. 

/. Maintenance of the prohibitory line under amalgamation ; and 
its deflection southwards in the Eastern Province in order to 
keep from the influence of the trade, the northern portions 
of the Eastern Province where the trade has, up to now, not, 
or barely, penetrated. 

/. Gradual, very gradual, introduction of direct taxation in the 
Central and Eastern Provinces, working upwards from the 
coast Une — preceded by full explanations, and the calling 
together of District Chiefs and Heads of Houses for purposes 
of discussion. In the Western Province, where direct taxation 
by the British Government would be a violation of Native 
law and of Treaties and Arrangements, a poUcy (sketched 
in Part II.) of re-constituting according to native law, the 
old Yoruba Kingdom, and reviving through the Alafin, the 
tribute which in native law is due to him, and eventually 
controlling the expenditure of the proceeds through the 
Alafin and the heads of the various Yoruba States. These 
respective proceedings being taken with the object ot gradually 
making us independent, or virtually independent, of taxation 
on spirits as a source of revenue. 

That is, broadly, the constructive policy I venture 
to recommend. It might have to be modified here 
and there. But in its main lines I believe it to be 
sound. 

On the main issue I would say this. The Southern 
Nigeria Administration stands for high ideals and good 
government, sound native policy, preservation of native 
authority and land tenure. In my belief the untruthful 
and malignant charges brought against it are weakening 

259 



NIGERIA : ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

that for which the Administration stands. This is a 
grave danger, and one's sense of justice revolts at allega- 
tions made against an Administration the bulk of whose 
officials are doing good work under many difficulties. 
It is bad for the Empire and for the forces making for 
just native government within the Empire, that public 
opinion should be led to believe that Southern Nigeria 
is a thing to be ashamed of rather than to be proud 
of — which ought legitimately, on the facts, to be the 
case. 

It is bad for public policy and the integrity of public 
life that a Commission of Inquiry should be dragged in 
the mud when it has recorded the truth. 

It is Imperially foolish, and essentially unjust in 
itself, that the natives of Nigeria should be represented 
as degraded and demoralized, helpless creatures, when they 
are nothing of the kind. They resent it, and it is untrue. 
The propagation of continuous untruths about a native 
race will sooner or later lead that native race to be held 
in such low estimation, that it will be persecuted and 
unjustly dealt by. This picture drawn of this race, 
strengthens, in public opinion, the various forces which 
are bent upon perpetuating the legend of the African 
half-child and half-devil, which is so great an obstacle to 
sane public views at home, and, therefore, in the ultimate 
resort to sane policy in Africa. 

If the Colonial Office is driven to prohibition or any 
violent step of that sort, direct taxation must immediately 
follow in order to raise revenue, and that will mean the 
massacre of thousands of innocent people. It will also 
lead to the destruction of palm trees, which will impoverish 
the country and lower trade ; to the stoppage of all 
export in cereals, the surplus crop being used to produce 
fermented liquors, and thus, again, to the impoverishment 
of the country and possibly to the shortage of crops, 
with the resultant scarcity of food supply ; to the creation 

260 



THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC IN SOUTHERN NIGERIA 

of illicit stills and the production of a crude liquor full 
of impurities, and, consequently, very harmful in effects. 
The Nigerian population of the south must have liquor 
of some sort. It requires it, like every race does, that 
is not naturally a teetotal race, which the Nigerian race 
has never been. To stop drinking is impossible — nor, 
perhaps, is it desirable if it were possible, especially in 
the forest zone which is more or less under water for six 
months in the year. Anyway, it cannot be done. The 
Nigerians do not over-drink. They are much more 
sober than we are — that is incontestable. They occasion- 
ally drink more than is good for them at weddings, etc. 
(just as many people do in this country), and at their 
reUgious feasts. But they did that (since feasting and 
drinking has always been part and parcel of the rehgious 
stage of humanity the Nigerians are now in — ^part of the 
cult of the fertilizing spirit of nature) long before we knew 
they existed. 

The danger of increasing over-indulgence in drink by 
" educated " natives is a very real one. But " trade 
spirits " have nothing to do with this. The secret of 
this tendency is to be found in the false ideal of Christianity 
which is propagated by many of the missionaries and the 
denationalizing tendencies which appear to be inseparable, 
on the present system, from our religious and educationary 
influences. 

The establishment of the European licensing system 
away from the chief towns of the coast is, I consider, 
impossible for at least a generation — and undesirable if it 
were possible. 

As an antidote to any dangers of over-indulgence in 
drink among the mass of the people which may exist, 
the spread of the Mohammedan religion is automatically 
the most effective, from the purely social standpoint ; 
and this, not because of any special virtue attaching to 
Islam, but because Islam in West Africa has become an 

261 



NIGERIA: ITS PEOPLES AND ITS PROBLEMS 

African religion which does not denationalize, and does 
not produce the social unhappiness which denationaliza- 
tion brings in its train.* 

* It may, perhaps, be well to emphasize, in view of the printed statements 
describing the writer as the " champion of the liquor traffic " and so forth, 
which are so freely made in certain quarters, that the above remarks are con- 
cerned solely with the liquor traffic in Southern Nigeria — not in West Africa 
as a whole. They deal with specific facts affecting a specific area of West 
Africa and with specific circumstances surrounding those facts which have 
formed the subject of public controversy. 



262 



INDEX 



Abeokuta, city of, 78, 79, 80, 84, 224 
Alake of, 79 

Alkalis, their functions, 149 

Amalgamation of the Protectorates, 46, 
187, 209. (See under British poUcy.) 

Anthropological research, British in- 
difference to, 185. {See under British 
policy.) 

Ants, white, 29 

Arab traders in Kano, 166. 

Baikie, Dr., 46 
Baro, 91, 195, 203 
Barth, Dr., 123, 152 
Bassa, 117, 202, 231 
Bauchi, people, plateau and Province 
of, 4, 19, 127, 138. 171, 177, 
179-186, 192, 202 
a nnique ethnological field, 185 
(See also under Mining and Tin.) 
Beecroft, John, 45 
Bees, 29, 114 

Beit-el-mals, the, 147, 148, 149 
Bell, Sir Henry Hesketh, Preface, 136, 

172, 241 
Bello, Emir, 99, 100 
Benin, country and people of, 65, 68-70, 

140, 203. 
Benue, river and region of the, 94, 170, 

171, 180, 183, 202-203 
Bida, city of, 29, 31, no, 119, 128 
Blyden, Dr. E. Wilmot, Preface, Intro- 
duction 
Borgu, 118, 138, 177, 202, 203 
Bornu, 99, loi, 126, 127, 138, 170, 177, 

202, 232 
British Cotton Growing Association, 

222, etc. (See under Cotton.) 
British policy, its ultimate effects, 6-7, 
102-105, 171 
danger of interference with social 

life, 20, 151-154 
in Nupe, 29-30 
a tour de force, 41 
absence of constructive views from 

home, 46, 189-190 
towards Mohammedanism, 47, in, 

112, 133-135. 152-153. 164 
lack of home interest in, 48 
as to forest development, 58-61 



British policy — continued. 

towards domestic " slavery," 62- 
63 

in the Central and Eastern Pro- 
vinces of Southern Nigeria, 64, 
65 

in Benin, 68-69 

in Yorubaland, 7&-80. 82-88 

neglect of the Niger river, 93-94 

towards land tenure, 117 

towards European trade in the 
Hausa towns, 133, 135 

of indirect rule, its character and 
objects in Northern Nigeria; its 
enemies ; arguments for its 
retention, 136-139, 145-150 

consequences of direct rule, 139- 
140, 154 

in connection with native law and 
custom, 140-144 

in connection with the preserva- 
tion of national hfe, 151-154, 159 

towards Christian Missions in 
Northern Nigeria, 153 

towards the national weaving in- 
dustry of Kano, 152, 240-241 

towards education, 160-165, 188 

towards European trade, 172-174 

towards mining enterprises, 180- 

183 
towards ethnological research, 185 
in Southern and Northern Nigeria 

compared, 188-189 
position of a West African Gover- 
nor, 189-190 
position of officials, 190-193 
in connection with officials' wives, 

192 
opposing views regarding. Preface 
(See also under Amalgamation, 
Christianity, Islam, Railways, 
Education, etc., etc. 
Bukuru, 179, 183 
Butterflies, 32, 33, 56 

Carrieh, the, 14-17, 23 

Cattle, 12, ro8. (See under Nigerian.) 

Cerebro-spinal meningitis, 9 

Chad, Lake, 124, 179 

Chalmers, Sir Mackenzie Dalzell, 252 



263 



INDEX 



Chamberlain, Right Hon. Joseph, 256 
Chirol, Mr. Valentine, 160, 165 
Christianity, character of mission work, 
26-28 
in Yorubaland, 77 
an untouched field, 96 
and indirect rule, 138 
in the Mohammedan provinces, 153 
in Kano, 133-135 
- ' ;and Islam in Southern Nigeria, 
* 213-221. {See under Islsna, a.nd 

British poUcy.) 
CiviUzation, failure side of, 245 
Clapperton, Commander, 100, 123 
Clegg, Mr., 224 
Cocoa, export of, 57, 224 
Cotton, cultivation, manufacture and 
export of, 57, 114, 115, 119, 127, 
152, 168-169, 222, 224. (See under 
Hausas, Nigerian, Kano.) 
Crewe, Earl of, 252 
Cross, river, 51 

Delimi, river, 119, 180 
Dennett, Mr. R. E., 61 
Dress, question of, 219-220 
Drum, the Nigerian, 32 

Eaglesome, Mr., Preface, 194 
Educational policy, 72-76, 154, 158- 

159, 160-165, 188. (See under Nas- 

sarawa, British policy.) 
Egba, district of, 224. (See under Yo- 

rubas.) 
Egerton, Sir Walter, Preface, 11, 74, 

254 
Emigration, Fulam, 170 

Finances of Northern Nigeria, 207- 
208. (See under Amalgamation and 
British policy.) 
Fireflies, 34 
Firmin, Mr., Preface 
Food supplies, 58, 142, 171, 179, 182, 

191. 243 
Forcados, port and river of, 45, 49, 73, 

91, 93, 202 
Forest belt in Southern Nigeria, 56-61, 
224, 251 
forestry resources in Northern 
Nigeria, 170 
Forestry Department in Southern Ni- 
geria, 58-61, 69, 84 
need of one in Northern Nigeria, 
170 
Foulkes, Captain, 185 
Fulani, women, 19, 21, ii'g .,, 

as rulers, 2"^, 30, 4*7, 98, 118, 137, 

140-142. • ^ ■ , 

as herdsmen, 29, 118, 119, 169-170 



Fulani women — continued. 

place in West African history, 

9^-59 .. . 

conquest of Hausa, 99, loi, 124 
as a spiritual force, 155-159 
in Bauchi, 1S6 

(See under Othman, Bello, British 
policy, Nigerian.) 

GiROUARD, Sir Percy, 94, 137, 142, 143 

198 
Gober, country of, 124, 157 
Goldie, Sir George, 45, 166 
Gombe, Emirate of, 184 
Gummel, Emirate of, 130 
Gwarris, the, 116 

Hadeija, division of, 236 

Harcourt, Hon. Lewis, 256 

Harmattan, the, 8, 9, 11 

Hausas, the, and their country, 19, 21, 
45-47, 98-101, 108, 156, 169, 217, 
231, 232, 237. (See under Kano, 
Nigerian British policy.) 

Henna, 30 

Himbury, Mr., Preface, 231 

Holt, Mr. John, Preface 

John & Co., Ltd., Preface, 166 

House-rule, in Southern Nigeria, 62, 63 

Ibadan, 78, 80, 81, 85, no, 196, 218, 224 
Idah, 96 

Ilorin, 99, 127, 177, 202, 203 
Islam, in Nupe, 29 
in Zaria, 35-41 
as a political and social force, 47, 

48, 111-112 
in Lagos, 72 
in Yorubaland, 77 
Othman's jihad, 99 
formative of Nigerian civilization, 

103, 140-141, 149 
morning prayer in Hausaland, 1 1 1- 

112 
etiquette at Mohammedan Cou rts, 

130 
Emir of Kano's views, 133-135 
inadvisability of interference with, 

153 
as a reforming force, 156-157 
as a spiritual influence, 164-165 
and Christianity in Southern Ni- 
geria, 213-220 
as a preservative to national life, 
213-220, 260 

Kabba, province of, 202, 203. (See 

under Mining.) 
Kaduna, river, 31, 180 
Kakandas, the, 171 



264 



INDEX 



Kano, Province and Emirate of, 115- 

116, 130, 138-139, 145, 147, 153, 

167, 177, 192-193, 202-206, 229, 

232, 236, 239, 241 

city of, 45, 91, 121, 123-129, 133, 

146, 163, 166, 191, 195 
Emir of, 45, 130-135, 148, I53. 164 
native administration of, 145-150 
Katagum, Emirate of, 130, 236, 239 
Katsina, city. Emirate and Province of, 
123, 124, 130, 153, 236, 239, 241-242 
Kingsley, the late Miss Mary, Dedica- 
tion, Introduction, 248 
Kitson, Mr., 176 
Kontagora, 138, 202 

Lagos, 51, 63, 71-75, 76, 83, 84, 91, 
no, 195, 203, 218 

Land, Nigerian tenure of. Introduction, 
83-84, 117, 140-I44. (See under 
British policy.) 
and Natives' Rights Proclama- 
tion, 143 
legislation in Northern and 
Southern Nigeria, 188 

Lander, Richard, 45 

Lever Bros., Ltd., 54 

Life, preservation of national, 151-154 

Lignite, 175-176 

Liquor traflSc, problem of, 66, 245-261 

Liruei-n-Delma, 177 

Liruei-n-Kano, 121, 177, 178 

Loko, 183 

Lokoja, 46, 94, 97, 110. 163. 171. 203 

Lugard, Sir Frederick, 46, 123, 131, 134, 
136, 142 

MacGregor Laird, 46 

Merchants, British, 95, 96, 153, 172-174, 

227, 243 
Mining Development, 175-183. (See 

under Tin and Bauchi.) 
Minna, 195 
Moor, Sir Ralph, 58 
Mungo Park, 45 
Muri, Province of, 138, 170, 177, 202- 

203 

Naraguta, 180, 183-184, 191 
Nsissarawa, Province of, 138, 177, 231 
national schools at, 161-165. {See 
under Education.) 
Native Races and Liquor Traffic United 
Committee, 254, etc. {See under 
Liquor.) 
Niger, delta of, 49-54. 218, 223 

river, 51, 75, 91-97. 124, 180, 195, 

202, 203 
Province, 138, 167, 202, 243 
old civilizations of, 155 



Niger — continued. 

company, 166, 172, 178, 179, 181, 

183, 186, igi 
Nigeria, importence of, 47 
size of, 47, 49, 63, 138 
need for pubhc interest in, 48 
flora of, 10, 29, 36, 50, 51, 52, 113, 

114, 170 
history of, 98-104 
self-sufficing character, 119, 171 
a land of contrasts, 72, 184 
anomalous position of Northern 

Protectorate, 190 
comparison with American cotton 

belt, 222 
Nigerian, perils which beset him. In- 
troduction, 245-248 
false ideas about, 247-249, 260 
his alleged callousness, 13 
as a carrier, 14-17 
his modesty and courtesy, 19-23 
his dancing, 31-32 
as a fisherman, 34 
as a trader, 50-52, 107-110, 125-127 
his capacity for labour, 57-58, 181- 

182 
his spiritual side, 24, 28, 67, iii- 

112, 155-159 
as an agriculturist, 112, 113, 118, 

120, 172, 185, 224, 228, 231, 

233-237 
as a cotton manufacturer, 121, 127, 

185. 
as a dyer, 121 

as a tanner, 121, 127, 163-164 
as an artisan, 119, 120, 121 
as a smelter, 6, 120-121, 177-178, 

185 
as a potter, 128 
as a herdsman, 118-119 
his law-abiding character, 146-147 
his probity in Kano, 147 
as an inUllectuel and reformer, 

157-158 
his capacity for self-government 

on indigenous lines, 130-159 
{See under British poUcy, Trade, 

Kano, Railways, Education, 

Islam, Cotton, Tin, Hausa, 

Fulani, Yoruba, Othman Fodio, 

etc.) 
Ningi, country and people of, 184 
Nupe, people of, 29-31, 126, 171, 218 
soap, 129 



Officials, labours of British, 6, 7, 30, 
31, 41, 65-66, 104, 137, 143, 154, 
190-191, 244 

Oil palm and its products, 52-55. (See 
under Trade.) 



265 



INDEX 



Old Calabar, 51, 73, 202 
Onitsha, 176, 218 
Oshogbo, 202-203, 224-225 
Othman Fodio, 99-101, 118, 157, 159 
Oyo, city of, 78, 203, 218, 225 
Alafin of, 80, 81, 87 

Railways and railway policy, 91, 167, 

183, 194-200, 239 
Rat-catchers of Kano, 146 
Religions, African, 24-28, 35, 67-68, 

218. {See under Islam.) 
Revenue, method of distribution in 
Northern Nigeria, 147-148. {See 
under British policy and Amalgama- 
tion.) 
Road, the great white, 7, 8-13, 28 

the Riga-Chikum-Naraguta, 182, 

183 
its r6le in social life, 218 
Roman Catholics, 11, 27, 252 
Ross, Mr. W. A., 84 
Rubber, in Bauchi and in the Binue 
region, 170-185 
in Benin, 69 

SAtARiES of ofScials in Northern Ni- 
geria, 192 

Sallah, the, at Zaria, 35-41 

Sarbah, the late John Mensah, Intro- 
duction 

Shuwas, the, 170 

Sokoto, 12, 100, 116, 126, 138, 153, 170, 
177, 203, 218 

Songhay, Empire of, 156 

Taxation, Hausa and Fulani system 
of, 120, 140. {See under British 
policy and Fulani.) 
Jangali or cattle tax, 169-170 

Temple, Mr. Charles, Preface, 147 



Thompson, Mr. H. N., 61 
Thomson, Mr. Joseph, 45 
Tin, 124, 127, 128, 166, 232. {See 

under Mining.) 
Trade, internal, 12, 107-110, 120-122, 
127-128, 217-218 
external, 50-53. 121-122, 154, 166- 

174 - 

Trees, destruction of, 10-12, 59, 84 
Tripoli, 124, 127, 128, 166, 232 
Tugwell, Right Rev. Bishop, 250. {See 
under Liquor traffic.) 

Udi, district of, 176 

ViscHER, Mr. Hanns, 164. {See under 
Education and Nassarawa.) 

Wallace, Sir William, 150, 178 
Warri, 51, 203 
Wesleyan Missionaries, 252 
Williams, Hon. Sapara, 253 
Women, European, in Nigeria, 192 
Wyndham Dunstan, Professor, 150, 178 

YOLA, province of, 138, 163, 202 
Yorubas, the, and their country, 74-88, 

99, 140, 171, 203, 218, 221, 227, 229. 

{See under Abeokuta, Ibadan, Oyo.) 
Young, Mr., 79 

Zaria, Province and Emirate of, 167, 
202-203, 229, 236, 237, 241 

city of, 35, 46, 127, 237-238 

Emir of, 39, 40 

Court fool of, 38 

learned families of, 100 

old pagan customs of, 157 

missionaries in, 153 
Zinder, 239, 241 
Zungeru, 148, 191, 195, 202 



THE END 



FRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AKD SOHS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCLBS.