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Richard Francis Burton and Verney Lovett Cameron
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Title: To The Gold Coast for Gold, Vol. II
A Personal Narrative
Author: Richard Francis Burton and Verney Lovett Cameron
Release Date: June 5, 2006 [EBook #18506]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD ***
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TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD
_A Personal Narrative_
BY Richard F. Burton AND Verney Lovett Cameron
In Two Volumes--Vol. II.
CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME
XII. THE SA LEONITE AT HOME AND ABROAD
XIII. FROM SA LEONE TO CAPE PALMAS
XIV. FROM CAPE PALMAS TO AXIM
XV. AXIM, THE GOLD PORT OF THE PAST AND THE FUTURE
XVI. GOLD ABOUT AXIM, ESPECIALLY AT THE APATIM OR BUJIA CONCESSION
XVII. THE RETURN--VISIT TO KING BLAY; ATABO AND BEIN
XVIII. THE IZRAH MINE--THE INYOKO CONCESSION--THE RETURN TO AXIM
XIX. TO PRINCE'S RIVER AND BACK
XX. FROM AXIM TO INGOTRO AND AKANKON
XXI. TO TUMENTO, THE 'GREAT CENTRAL DEPOT'
XXII. TO INSIMANKAO AND THE BUTABUE RAPIDS.
XXIII. TO EFFUENTA, CROCKERVILLE, AND THE AJI BIPA HILL
XXIV. TO THE MINES OF ABOSU, OF THE 'GOLD COAST,' AND OF THE TAKWA
('AFRICAN GOLD COAST') COMPANIES
XXV. RETURN TO AXIM AND DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE
* * * * *
Sec.1. THE ASHANTI SCARE
Sec.2. THE LABOUR-QUESTION IN WESTERN AFRICA
Sec.3. GOLD-DIGGING IN NORTH-WESTERN AFRICA
PART I.--LIST OF BIRDS COLLECTED BY CAPTAIN BURTON AND COMMANDER CAMERON
PART II.--LIST OF PLANTS COLLECTED ON THE GOLD COAST BY CAPTAIN BURTON
AND COMMANDER CAMERON, R.N. (FURNISHED BY PROFESSOR OLIVER)
* * * * *
TO THE GOLD COAST FOR GOLD.
THE SA LEONITE AT HOME AND ABROAD.
In treating this part of the subject I shall do my best to avoid
bitterness and harsh judging as far as the duty of a traveller--that of
telling the whole truth--permits me. It is better for both writer and
reader to praise than to dispraise. Most Englishmen know negroes of pure
blood as well as 'coloured persons' who, at Oxford and elsewhere, have
shown themselves fully equal in intellect and capacity to the white races
of Europe and America. These men afford incontestable proofs that the
negro can be civilised, and a high responsibility rests upon them as the
representatives of possible progress. But hitherto the African, as will
presently appear, has not had fair play. The petting and pampering
process, the spirit of mawkish reparation, and the coddling and
high-strung sentimentality so deleterious to the tone of the colony, were
errors of English judgment pure and simple. We can easily explain them.
The sad grey life of England, the reflection of her climate, has ever
welcomed a novelty, a fresh excitement. Society has in turn lionised the
_marmiton_, or assistant-cook, self-styled an 'Emir of the Lebanon;' the
Indian 'rajah,' at home a _munshi_, or language-master; and the 'African
princess,' a slave-girl picked up in the bush. It is the same hunger for
sensation which makes the mob stare at the Giant and the Savage, the Fat
Lady, the Living Skeleton, and the Spotted Boy.
Before entering into details it will be necessary to notice the history of
the colony--an oft-told tale; yet nevertheless some parts will bear
[Footnote: The following is its popular chronology:--
1787. First settlers (numbering 460) sailed.
1789. Town burnt by natives (1790?).
1791. St. George's Bay Company founded.
1792. Colonists (1,831) from Nova Scotia.
1794. Colony plundered by the French.
1800. Maroons (560) from Jamaica added.
1808. Sa Leone ceded to the Crown; 'Cruits' introduced.
1827. Direct government by the Crown.]
According to Pere Labat, the French founded in 1365 Petit Paris at
'Serrelionne,' a town defended by the fort of the Dieppe and Rouen
merchants. The official date of the discovery is 1480, when Pedro de
Cintra, one of the gentlemen of Prince Henry 'the Navigator,' visited the
place, after his employer's death A.D. 1463. In 1607 William Finch,
merchant, found the names of divers Englishmen inscribed on the rocks,
especially Thos. Candish, or Cavendish, Captain Lister, and Sir Francis
Drake. In 1666 the Sieur Villault de Bellefons tells us that the river
from Cabo Ledo, or Cape Sierra Leone, had several bays, of which the
fourth, now St. George's, was called _Baie de France_. This seems to
confirm Pere Labat. I have noticed the Tasso fort, built by the English in
1695. The next account is by Mr. Surveyor Smith, [Footnote: He is mentioned
in the last chapter.] who says 'it is not certain when the English became
masters of Sierra Leone, which they possessed unmolested until Roberts the
pirate took it in 1720.' Between 1785 and 1787 Lieutenant John Matthews,
R.N., resided here, and left full particulars concerning the export
slave-trade, apparently the only business carried on by the British.
Modern Sa Leone is the direct outcome of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield's
memorable decision delivered in the case of Jas. Somerset _v_. Mr. James
G. Stewart, his master. 'The claim of slavery never can be supported; the
power claimed never was in use here or acknowledged by law.' This took
place on June 21, 1772; yet in 1882 the Gold Coast is not wholly
free. [Footnote: Slavery was abolished on the Gold Coast by royal command
on December 7, 1874; yet the _Gold Coast Times_ declares that domestic
slavery is an institution recognised by the law-courts of the
Many 'poor blacks,' thrust out of doors by their quondam owners, flocked
to the 'African's friend,' Granville Sharp, and company. Presently a
charitable society, with a large command of funds and Jonas Hanway for
chairman, was formed in London; and our people, sorely sorrowing for their
newly-found sin, proposed a colony founded on philanthropy and free labour
in Africa. Sa Leone was chosen, by the advice of Mr. Smeathman, an old
resident. In 1787 Captain Thompson, agent of the St. George's Bay Company,
paid 30_l_. to the Timni chief, Naimbana, _alias_ King Tom, for the rocky
peninsula, extending twenty square miles from the Rokel to the Ketu River.
In the same year he took out the first batch of emigrants, 460 black
freed-men and about 60 whites, in the ship _Nautilus_, whose history so
far resembled that of the _Mayflower_. Eighty-four perished on the
journey, and not a few fell victims to the African climate and its
intemperance; but some 400 survived and built for themselves Granville
Town. These settlers formed the first colony.
In 1790 the place was attacked by the Timni tribe, to avenge the insult
offered to their 'King Jimmy' by the crew of an English vessel, who burnt
his town. The people dispersed, and were collected from the bush with some
difficulty by Mr. Falconbridge. This official was sent out from England
early in 1791, and his wife wrote the book. In the same year (1791) St.
George's Bay Company was incorporated under Act 31 Geo. III. c. 55 as the
'Sierra Leone Company.' Amongst the body of ninety-nine proprietors the
foremost names are Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce, William Ludlam,
and Sir Richard Carr Glynn. They spent 111,500_l_. in establishing and
developing the settlement during the first ten and a half years of its
existence; and the directors organised a system of government, closely
resembling the British constitution, under Lieutenant Clarkson, R.N.
Next year the second batch of colonists came upon the stage. The negroes
who had remained loyal to England, and had been settled by the Government
in Nova Scotia, found the bleak land utterly unsuitable, and sent home a
delegate to pray that they might be restored to Africa. The directors
obtained free passage in sixteen ships for 100 white men and 1,831
negroes. Led by Lieutenant Clarkson, they landed upon the Lioness range in
March (1792), after losing sixty of their number.
Bred upon maize and rice, bread and milk, the new comers sickened on
cassava and ground-nuts. They had no frame-houses, and the rains set in
early, about mid-May, before they had found shelter. The whites were
attacked with climate-fever, which did not respect even the doctors.
Quarrels and insubordination resulted, and 800 of the little band were
soon carried to the grave. Then a famine broke out. A ship from England,
freighted with stores, provisions, and frame-houses, was driven back by a
storm. Forty-five acres had been promised to each settler-family; it was
found necessary to diminish the number to four, and the denseness of the
bush rendered even those four unmanageable. Disgusted with Granville Town,
the new comers transferred themselves to the present site of Freetown, the
The Company offered annual premiums to encourage the building of
farm-houses, stock-rearing, and growing provisions and exportable produce.
Under Dr. Afzelius, afterwards Professor at Upsal, who first studied the
natural history of the peninsula, they established an experimental garden
and model farm. An English gardener was also employed to naturalise the
large collection of valuable plants from the East and West Indies and the
South Sea Islands supplied by Kew. The Nova Scotians, however, like true
slaves, considered agriculture servile and degrading work--a prejudice
which, as will be seen, prevails to this day not only in the colony, but
throughout the length and breadth of the Dark Continent.
Meanwhile war had broken out between England and France, causing the
frequent detention of vessels; and a store-ship in the harbour caught
fire, the precursor of a worse misfortune. On a Sunday morning, 1794, as
the unfortunates were looking out for the Company's craft (the _Harpy_), a
French man-of-war sailed into the roadstead, pillaged the 'church and the
apothecary's shop,' and burnt boats as well as town. The assailant then
wasted Granville, sailed up to Bance Island, and finally captured two
vessels, besides the long-expected _Harpy_. Having thus left his mark, he
disappeared, after granting, at the Governor's urgent request, two or
three weeks' provision for the whites. Famine followed, with sickness in
its train, and the neighbouring slave-dealers added all they could to the
sufferings of the settlement.
In the same year Zachary Macaulay, father of Lord Macaulay, became
Governor for the first time. The Company also made its earliest effort to
open up trade with the interior by a mission, and two of their servants
penetrated 300 miles inland to Timbo, capital of that part of Pulo-land. A
deputation of chiefs presently visited the settlement to propose terms;
but the futility of the negro settler was a complete obstacle to the
development of the internal commerce, the main object for which the
Company was formed. Yet the colony prospered; in 1798 Freetown numbered,
besides public buildings, about 300 houses.
In 1800 the Sierra Leone Company obtained a Charter of Justice from the
Crown, authorising the directors to appoint a Governor and Council, and to
make laws not repugnant to those of England. During the same year the
settlers, roused to wrath by a small ground-rent imposed upon their farms,
rose in rebellion. This movement was put down by introducing a third
element of 530 Maroons, who arrived in October. They were untamable
Coromanti (Gold Coast) negroes who boasted that among blacks they were
what the English are among whites, able to fight and thrash all other
tribes. They had escaped from their Spanish masters when the British
conquered Jamaica in 1655; they took to the mountains, and, joined by
desperadoes, they built sundry scattered settlements. [Footnote: In 1738,
after regular military operations, the Maroons of Jamaica agreed to act as
police and to deliver up runaways. In 1795 the Trelawny men rebelled, and,
having inflicted a severe loss upon the troops, were deported to Nova
Scotia and Sa Leone.] Introducing these men fostered the ill-feeling
which, in the earlier part of the present century, prevented the rival
sections from intermarrying. Many of the disaffected Sa Leonites left the
colony; some fled to the wilds and the wild ones of the interior, and a
few remained loyal.
Rumours of native invasions began to prevail. The Governor was loth to
believe that King Tom would thus injure his own interests, until one
morning, when forty war-canoes, carrying armed Timnis, were descried
paddling round the eastern point. Londoners and Nova Scotians fled to the
fort, and next day the Timni drum sounded the attack. The Governor, who
attempted to parley, was wounded; but the colonists, seeing that life was
at stake, armed themselves and beat off the assailants, when the Maroons
of Granville Town completed the rout. After this warning a wall with
strong watch-towers was built round Freetown.
Notwithstanding all precautions, another 'Timni rising' took place in
1803. The assailants paddled down in larger numbers from Porto Loko,
landed at Kissy, and assaulted Freetown, headed by a jumping and drumming
'witch-woman.' Divided into three storming parties, they bravely attacked
the gates, but they were beaten back without having killed a man. The dead
savages lay so thick that the Governor, fearing pestilence, ordered the
corpses to be cast into the sea.
The first law formally abolishing slavery was passed, after a twenty
years' campaign, by the energy of Messieurs Clarkson, Stephen,
Wilberforce, and others, on May 23, 1806. In 1807 the importation of fresh
negroes into the colonies became illegal. On March 16, 1808, Sa Leone
received a constitution, and was made a depot for released captives. This
gave rise to the preventive squadron, and in due time to a large
importation of the slaves it liberated. Locally called 'Cruits,' many of
these savages were war-captives; others were criminals condemned to death,
whom the wise chief preferred to sell than to slay. With a marvellous
obtuseness and want of common sense our Government made Englishmen by
wholesale of these wretches, with eligibility to sit on juries, to hold
office, and to exercise all the precious rights of Englishmen. Instead of
being apprenticed or bound to labour for some seven years under
superintendence, and being taught to clear the soil, plant and build, as
in similar cases a white man assuredly would have been, they were allowed
to loaf, lie, and cheat through a life equally harmful to themselves and
others. 'Laws of labour,' says an African writer, [Footnote: _Sierra Leone
Weekly Times_, July 30, 1862.] 'may be out of place (date?) in England, but
in Sierra Leone they would have saved an entire population from trusting
to the allurements of a petty, demoralising trade; they would have saved
us the sight of decayed villages and a people becoming daily less capable
of bearing the laborious toil of agricultural industry. To handle the hoe
has now become a disgrace, and men have lost their manhood by becoming
gentlemen.' I shall presently return to this subject.
Thus the four colonies which successively peopled Sa Leone were composed
of destitute paupers from England, of fugitive Nova Scotian serviles, of
outlawed Jamaican negroes, and of slave-prisoners or criminals from every
region of Western and inner Africa.
The first society of philanthropists, the 'Sierra Leone Company,' failed,
but not without dignity. It had organised a regular government, and even
coined its own money. In the British Museum a silver piece like a florin
bears on the obverse 'Sierra Leone Company, Africa,' surrounding a lion
guardant standing on a mountain; the reverse shows between the two numbers
50 and 50 two joined hands, representing the union of England and Africa,
and the rim bears 'half-dollar piece, 1791,' the year of the creation of
the colony. The Company's intentions were pure; its hopes and expectations
were lofty, and the enthusiasts flattered themselves that they had proved
the practicability of civilising Africa. But debt and native wars ended
their career, and transferred, on January 1, 1808, their rights to the
Crown. The members, however, did not lose courage, but at once formed the
African Institution, the parent of the Royal Geographical Society.
The government of the Crown colony has undergone some slight
modifications. In 1866 it was made, with very little forethought, a kind
of government-general, the centre of rule for all the West African
settlements. The unwisdom of this step was presently recognised, and Sa
Leone is now under a charter dated December 17, 1874, the governor-in-chief
having command over the administration of Bathurst, Gambia. Similarly
farther south, Lagos, now the Liverpool of West Africa, has been
bracketed, foolishly enough, with the Gold Coast.
The liberateds, called by the people 'Cruits,' and officially
'recaptives,' soon became an important factor. In 1811 they numbered 2,500
out of 4,500; and between June 1819 and January 1833 they totalled 27,167
hands. They are now represented by about seventeen chief, and two hundred
minor, tribes. A hundred languages, according to Mr. Koelle, increased to
a hundred and fifty by Bishop Vidal, and reduced to sixty by Mr. Griffith,
are spoken in the streets of Freetown, a 'city' which in 1860 numbered
17,000 and now 22,000 souls. The inextricably mixed descendants of the
liberateds may be a total of 35,430, more than half the sum of the
original settlement, 53,862. Being mostly criminals, and _ergo_ more
energetic spirits, they have been the most petted and patronised by
colonial rule. There were governors who attempted to enforce our wise old
regulations touching apprenticeship, still so much wanted in the merchant
navy; but disgust, recall, or death always shortened their term of office.
Naturally enough, the 'Cruits' were fiercely hated by Colonists, Settlers,
and Maroons. Mrs. Melville reports an elderly woman exclaiming, 'Well,
'tis only my wonder that we (settlers) do not rise up in one body and
_kill_ and _slay_, _kill_ and _slay!_ Dem Spanish and Portuguese sailors
were quite right in making slaves. I would do de same myself, suppose I
were in dere place.' 'He is only a liberated!' is a favourite sneer at the
new arrivals; so in the West Indies, by a curious irony of fate,
'Willyfoss nigger' is a term of abuse addressed to a Congo or Guinea
'recaptive.' But here all the tribes are bitterly hostile to one another,
and all combine against the white man. After the fashion of the Gold Coast
they have formed themselves into independent caucuses called 'companies,'
who set aside funds for their own advancement and for the ruin of their
The most powerful and influential races are two--the Aku and the Ibo. The
Akus [Footnote: This is a nickname from the national salutation, 'Aku, ku,
ku?' ('How d'ye do?')] or Egbas of Yoruba, the region behind Lagos, the
Eyeos of the old writers, so called from their chief town, 'Oyo,' are
known by their long necklaces of tattoo. They are termed the Jews of
Western Africa; they are perfect in their combination, and they poison
with a remarkable readiness. The system of Egba 'clanship' is a favourite,
sometimes an engrossing, topic for invective with the local press, who
characterise this worst species of 'trades-union,' founded upon
intimidation and something worse, as the 'Aku tyranny' and the 'Aku
Inquisition.' The national proverb speaks the national sentiment clearly
enough: '_Okan kau le ase ibi, ikoko li asi imolle bi atoju imolle tau, ke
atoju ibi pella, bi aba ku ara enni ni isni 'ni'_ ('A man must openly
practise the duties of kinship, even though he may privately belong to a
(secret) club; when he has attended the club he must also attend to the
duties of kinship, because when he dies his kith and kin are those who
The Ibos, or 'Eboes' of American tales, are even more divided; still they
feel and act upon the principle 'Union is strength.' This large and savage
tribe, whose headquarters are at Abo, about the head of the Nigerian
delta, musters strong at Sa Leone; here they are the Swiss of the
community; the Kruboys, and further south the Kabenda-men being the
'Paddies.' It is popularly said that while the Aku will do anything for
money, the Ibo will do anything for revenge. Both races are astute in the
extreme and intelligent enough to work harm. Unhappily, their talents
rarely take the other direction. In former days they had faction-fights:
the second eastern district witnessed the last serious disturbance in
1834. Now they do battle under the shadow of the law. 'Aku constables will
not, unless in extreme cases, take up their delinquent countrymen, nor
will an Ebo constable apprehend an Ebo thief; and so on through all the
different tribes,' says the lady 'Resident of Sierra Leone.' If the
majority of the jury be Akus, they will unhesitatingly find the worst of
Aku criminals innocent, and the most innocent of whites, Ibos, or Timnis
guilty. The Government has done its best to weld all those races into one,
and has failed. Many, however, are becoming Moslems, as at Lagos, and this
change may have a happier effect by introducing the civilisation of
Trial by jury has proved the reverse of a blessing to most non-English
lands; in Africa it is simply a curse. The model institution becomes here,
as in the United States, a better machine for tyranny than any tyrant,
except a free people, ever invented. The British Constitution determines
that a man shall be tried by his peers. Half a dozen of his peers at Sa
Leone may be full-blooded blacks, liberated slaves, half-reformed
fetish-worshippers, sometimes with a sneaking fondness for Shango, the
Egba god of fire; and, if not criminals and convicts in their own country,
at best paupers clad in dishclouts and palm-oil. The excuse is that a
white jury cannot be collected among the forty or fifty eligibles in
Freetown. It is vain to 'challenge,' for other negroes will surely take
the place of those objected to. No one raises the constitutional question,
'Are these half-reclaimed savages my peers?' And if he did, Justice would
sternly reply, 'Yes.' The witnesses will forswear themselves, not, like
our 'posters,' for half a crown, but gratis, because the plaintiff or
defendant is a fellow-tribesman. The judge may be 'touched with a
tar-brush;' but, be he white as milk, he must pass judgment according to
verdict. This state of things recalls to mind the Ireland of the early
nineteenth century, when the judges were prefects armed with a penal code,
and the jurymen vulgar, capricious, and factious partisans.
Surely such a caricature of justice, such an outrage upon reason, was
never contemplated by British law or lawgiver. Our forefathers never
dreamt that the free institutions for which they fought and bled during
long centuries would thus be prostituted, would be lavished upon every
black 'recaptive,' be he thief, wizard, or assassin, after living some
fourteen days in a black corner of the British empire. Even the Irishman
and the German must pass some five years preparing themselves in the
United States before they become citizens. Sensible Africans themselves
own that 'the negro race is not fitted, without a guiding hand, to
exercise the privileges of English citizenship.' A writer of the last
century justly says, 'Ideas of perfect liberty have too soon been given to
this people, considering their utter ignorance. If one of them were asked
why he does not repair his house, clear his farm, mend his fence, or put
on better clothes, he replies that "King no give him work dis time," and
that he can do no more than "burn bush and plant little _cassader_ for
But a kind of _hysterica passio_ seems to have mastered the cool common
sense of the nation--a fury of repentance for the war about the Asiento
contract, for building Bristol and Liverpool with the flesh and blood of
the slave, and for the 2,130,000 negroes supplied to Jamaica between 1680
and 1786. Like a veteran devotee Great Britain began atoning for the
coquetries of her hot youth. While Spain and Portugal have passed sensible
laws for gradual emancipation, England, with a sublime folly, set free by
a stroke of the pen, at the expense of twenty millions sterling the born
and bred slaves of Jamaica. The result was an orgy for a week, a
systematic refusal to work, and for many years the ruin of the glorious
If the reader believes I have exaggerated the state of things long
prevalent at Sa Leone, he is mistaken. And he will presently see a
confirmation of these statements in the bad name which the Sa Leonite
bears upon the whole of the western coast. Yet, I repeat, the colony is
changed for the better, physically by a supply of pure water, morally by
the courage which curbed the black abuse. Twenty years ago to call a negro
'nigger' was actionable; many a 5_l._ has been paid for the indulgence of
_lese-majeste_ against the 'man and brother;' and not a few 50_l._ when
the case was brought into the civil courts. After a rough word the Sa
Leonite would shake his fist at you and trot off exclaiming, 'Lawyer Rainy
(or Montague) lib for town!' A case of mild assault, which in England
would be settled by a police-magistrate and a fine of five shillings,
became at Freetown a serious 'bob.' Niger, accompanied by his friends or
his 'company,' betook himself to some limb of the law, possibly a
pettifogger, certainly a pauper who braved a deadly climate for uncertain
lucre. His interest was to promote litigation and to fill his pockets by
what is called sharp practice. After receiving the preliminary fee of
_5l_., to be paid out of the plunder, he demanded exemplary damages, and
the defendant was lightened of all he could afford to pay. When the
offender was likely to leave the station, the _modus operandi_ was as
follows. The writ of summons was issued. The lawyer strongly recommended
an apology and a promise to defray costs, with the warning that judgment
would go by default against the absentee. If the defendant prudently
'stumped up,' the affair ended; if not, a _capias_ was taken out, and the
law ran its course. A jury was chosen, and I have already told the
At length these vindictive cases became so numerous and so scandalous that
strong measures became necessary. Governor Blackall (1862-66) was brave
enough to issue an order that cases should not be brought into the civil
courts unless complainants could prove that they were men of some
substance. Immense indignation was the result; yet the measure has proved
most beneficial. The negro no longer squares up to you in the suburbs and
dares the 'white niggah' to strike the 'black gen'leman.' He mostly limits
himself to a mild impudence. If you ask a well-dressed black the way to a
house, he may still reply, 'I wonder you dar 'peak me without making
compliment!' The true remedy, however, is still wanting, a 'court of
summary jurisdiction presided over by men of honour and probity.'
[Footnote: _Wanderings in West Africa_, ii. pp. 231-23.]
It cannot be said that the Sa Leonite has suffered from any want of
religious teaching or educational activity. On the contrary, he has had
too much of both.
After the collapse of Portuguese missionary enterprise on the West Coast,
the first attempts to establish Wesleyan Methodism at Sa Leone were made
in 1796, when Dr. Thomas Coke tried and failed. The Nova Scotian colonists
in 1792 had already brought amongst them Wesleyans, Baptists, and Lady
Huntingdon's connexion. This school, which differs from other Methodists
only in Church government, still has a chapel at Sa Leone. Thus each sect
claims 1792 as the era of its commencement in the colony. In 1811 Mr.
Warren, the first ordained Wesleyan missionary, reached Freetown and died
on July 23, 1812. He was followed by Mrs. Davies, the prima donna of the
corps: she 'gathered up her feet,' as the native saying is, on December
15, 1815. Since that time the place has never lacked an unbroken
succession of European missionary deaths.
The Church Missionary Society, founded in 1799, sent out, five years
afterwards, its first representatives, MM. Renner and Hartwig, Germans
supported by English funds. In 1816 they devoted themselves steadily to
converting the 'recaptives,' and many of them, together with their wives,
fell bravely at their posts. In twenty years thirty-seven out of seventy
died or were invalided. The names of Wylander and W. A. B. Johnson are
deservedly remembered. Nearly half a million sterling was spent at Sa
Leone, where the stone church of Kissy Road was built in 1839, and that of
Pademba Road in 1849. The grants were wisely withdrawn in 1862. At the
present moment only 300_l_. is given, and the church is reported to be
self-supporting. The first bishopric was established in 1852. In 1861
Bishop Beckles instituted the native Church pastorate: its constitution is
identical with that of the Episcopalians, whose ecclesiastical functions
it has taken over.
According to the last census-returns, Sa Leone contains 18,660
Episcopalians; 17,093 Wesleyans and Methodists of the New Connection;
2,717 Lady Huntingdonians; 388 Baptists, and 369 Catholics. These native
Christians keep the Sundays and Church festivals with peculiar zest, and
delight in discordant hymns and preaching of the most ferocious kind. The
Dissenting chapel combines the Christy minstrel with Messieurs Moody and
Sankey; and the well-peppered palaver-sauce of home cookery reappears in
hotly spiced, bitterly pious sermons and 'experiences;' in shouts of
'Amen!' 'Glory!' and 'Hallelujah!' and in promiscuous orders to 'Hol' de
fort.' Right well do I remember while the rival pilots, Messieurs Elliot
and Johnson, were shamelessly perjuring themselves in the police-court,
[Footnote: _Wanderings in West Africa_, i. pp. 256-58.] the junior
generation on the other side of the building, separated by the thinnest of
party-walls, was refreshing itself with psalms and spiritual songs.
We went to hear the psalmody. Ascending the staircase in the gable
opposite the court-house, we passed down the hall, and saw through the
open door the young idea at its mental drill in the hands of a pedagogue,
apparently one of the [Greek: _anaimosarka_], who, ghastly white and
thatched with Paganini hair, sat at the head of the room, the ruling body
of the unruly rout. Down the long length, whose whitewashed walls were
garnished with inscriptions, legal, moral, and religious, all sublime as
far as size went, were ranged parallel rows of _negrillons_ in the vast
costumal variety of a ragged school. They stood bolt upright, square to
the fore, in the position of ' 'tention,' their naked toes disposed at an
angle of 60º, with fingers close to the seams of their breeches (when not
breekless), heads up and eyes front. Face and body were motionless, as if
cast in ebony: nothing moved but the saucer-like white eyes and the
ivory-lined mouths, from whose ample lips and gape issued a prodigious
volume of sound. Native assistants, in sable skins and yellowish white
chokers, carrying music-scores and armed with canes, sloped through the
avenues, occasionally halting to frown down some delinquent, whose body
was not perfectly motionless, and whose soul was not wholly fixed upon the
development of sacred time and tune. I have no doubt that they sang--
The sun, the moon, and all the stars, &c.
precisely in the same spirit as if they had been intoning--
Peter Hill! poor soul!
Flog 'um wife, oh no! oh no!
and that famous anthropological assertion--
Eve ate de appel,
Gib one to daddy Adam;
And so came mi-se-ry
Up-on dis worl'.
_Chorus (bis)_ Oh sor-row, oh sor-row!
Until sal-va-tion day.
It is a pity that time and toil should be thus wasted. The negro child,
like the Hindu, is much sharper, because more precocious, than the
European; at six years he will become a good penman; in fact, he
promises more than he can perform. Reaching the age of puberty, his
capacity for progress suddenly disappears, the physical reason being
well known, and the 'cute lad becomes a _dummer Junge_. Mrs. Melville
thus describes her small servant-girl from one of these schools: 'She
looks almost nine years old; and, as far as reading goes, she knows
nothing more than her alphabet; can repeat the Prayer-Book Catechism by
rote, and one or two hymns, utterly ignorant all the while of the import
of a single word.' Even in Europe education, till lately, exercised the
judgment too little, the memory too much; consequently there were more
learned men than wise men. The system is now changing, and due attention
is paid to the _corpus sanum_, the first requisite for the _mens sana_.
The boys at Sa Leone are kept nine hours in school, learning verse by
heart, practising a vocalisation which cannot be heard without pain, and
toiling at the English language, which some missionaries seem to hold a
second revelation. Far better two or three hours of the 'three Rs' and
six of the shop or workyard. Briefly, the system should be that of the
Basle Missionary Society, [Footnote: I deeply regret that _Wanderings in
West Africa_ spoke far less fairly of this establishment than it
deserves. My better judgment had been warped by the prejudiced accounts
of a fellow-traveller.] which combines abstract teaching with practical
instruction in useful handicraft, and which thus suggests the belief
that work is dignified as it is profitable.
The Sa Leonites from their earliest days were greedy to gain knowledge as
the modern Greeks and Bulgarians; but the motive was not exalted. Their
proverb said, 'Read book, and learn to be rogue as well as white man.'
Hence useless, fanciful subjects were in vogue;--algebra, as it were,
before arithmetic;--and the poor made every sacrifice to give their sons a
smattering of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. The desire of entering the
'professions' naturally affected the standard of education. What is still
wanted at Sa Leone is to raise the mass by giving to their teaching a more
practical turn, which shall cultivate habits of industry, economy, and
self-respect, and encourage handicrafts and agriculture as well as trade.
I have already noticed the Fourah Bay College. The Church Missionary
Grammar-School, opened in 1845, prepares boarders and day-scholars for
university education; and the curriculum is that of an ordinary English
grammar-school. The establishment, which has already admitted over 1,000
boys, is now self-supporting, and has an invested surplus, with which
tutors are sent to England for higher instruction in 'paedagogia.' The
Wesleyan High School for Boys, opened in 1874, receives youths from
neighbouring colonies; that for girls, originating with Mrs. Godman, the
wife of a veteran missionary still on the Coast, was founded in 1879. It
was cordially taken up by the natives, who subscribed all the funds. The
founders thought best to adopt the commercial principle; but no one as yet
has asked for profit, and the school shows signs of prosperity and
progress. The Annie Walsh Memorial School for Girls, dating from a bequest
by the lady whose name it bears, is under the management of the Church
Missionary Society. The Catholics are, as usual, well to the fore. The
priests keep a large school for boys, and the sisters educate young women
and girls. I have before described the dark novice,--
Under a veil that wimpled was full low;
And over all a black stole shee did throw.
The masters also make their children learn Arabic and English. There is a
manliness and honesty in the look of the Mandenga and the Susu never seen
in the impudent 'recaptive.' The dignity of El-Islam everywhere displays
itself: it is the majesty of the monotheist, who ignores the degrading
doctrine of original sin; it is the sublime indifference to life which
_kaza wa kadar_, by us meagrely translated 'fatalism,' confers upon the
votaries of 'the Faith.' These are not the remarks of a prejudiced
sympathiser with El-Islam: many others have noted the palpable superiority
of the Moslem over the missionary convert and the liberated populace of Sa
As a rule journalism on the West Coast is still in the lowest stage of
Eatanswillism, and the journal is essentially ephemeral. The newspapers of
twenty years ago are all dead and forgotten. Such were the 'African
Herald,' a 'buff' organ, edited by the late Rev. Mr. Jones, a West Indian,
and its successor, the 'African Weekly Times.' The 'Sierra Leone Gazette'
succumbed when the Wesleyans established (1842) the 'Sierra Leone
Watchman.' Other defuncts are the 'Free Press,' a Radical paper,
representing Young Sa Leone, and a fourth, the 'Intelligencer,' which
strove to prove what has sometimes been asserted at negro
indignation-meetings, namely, that 'a white man, if _he behave himself_,
is as good as a black man.' Cain, like the rest of the family, was a
negro; but when rebuked by the Creator he turned pale with fear, a tint
inherited by his descendants. The theory is, _par parenthese_, as good as
any other. The only papers now published are the 'West African Reporter,'
whose proprietor and editor was the late Hon. Mr. Grant, and the
'Watchman,' a quasi-comic sheet.
The worst feature of journalism in West Africa is that fair play is
unknown to it. The negroes may thoroughly identify themselves with
England, claim a share in her greatness, and display abundant lip-loyalty;
yet there is the racial aversion to Englishmen in the concrete, and to
this is added the natural jealousy of seeing strangers monopolise the best
appointments. The Sa Leonite openly declares that he and his can rule the
land much better and more economically than the sickly foreigner, who
spends half his service-time on board the steamers and at home. 'Dere goes
another white raskel to his grave!' they will exclaim at the sight of a
funeral. 'Wish dey all go and leave colony to US.' And as the reading and
paying public is mainly composed of Nigers, the papers must sooner or
later cater for their needs, and lose no opportunity of casting obloquy
and ridicule upon the authorities and Albus in general. We can hardly
blame them. I have shown that the worst and most scandalous display of
journalism comes from London.
After the church, the school, and the newspaper, the most important
civilising institution is the market. Sa Leone is favourably situated for
collecting the interior trade, and yet seven-tenths of the revenue is
derived from articles passing through the Loko and Rokel rivers; the rest
is levied from wines, spirits, and tobacco, and in the form of
preposterous harbour-dues. The export duties are light, but the exports do
not seem to have increased as rapidly as they should have done during the
last twenty years; this, too, despite missions into the interior and the
hospitable reception of native chiefs and their messengers. There are no
assessed or house taxes. The revenue and expenditure of the past five
years have averaged, respectively, 63,869_l_. and 59,283_l_., leaving a
surplus of 4,586_l_., which might profitably be expended upon roads. But
the liabilities of the colony early in 1881 still amounted to 50,637_l_.,
being the balance of a debt resulting principally from the harbour-works.
The present population of the original settlement--including British Kwiah
(Quiah), an early annexation--is 53,862. The dependencies, Isles de Los,
Tasso, Kikonkeh, and British Sherbro, according to the census of 1881, add
6,684, a figure which experts would increase by 4,000. The total,
therefore, in round numbers, would be nearly 65,000. At the last census
only 163 were resident whites; the crews and passengers of ships in port
On the whole the Sa Leonite cannot be called a success. Servants in shoals
present themselves on board the steamers, begging 'ma'sr' to take them
down coast. In vain. The fellow is handier than his southern brother: he
can mend a wheel, make a coffin, or cut your hair. Yet none, save the
veriest greenhorn, will engage him in any capacity. As regards civility
and respectfulness he is far inferior to the _emancipado_ of Cuba or the
Brazil; with a superior development of 'sass,' he is often an inveterate
thief. He has fits of drinking, when he becomes mad as a Malay. He
gambles, he overdresses himself, and he indulges in love-intrigues till he
has exhausted his means, and then he makes 'boss' pay for all. With a
terrible love of summonsing, and a thorough enjoyment of a law-court, he
enters into the spirit of the thing like an attorney's clerk. He soon
wearies of the less exciting life in the wilder settlements, where orgies
and debauchery are not fully developed; home-sickness seizes him, and he
deserts his post; probably robbing house or till.
Even a black who has once visited Sa Leone is considered spoilt for life,
as if he had spent a year in England. Hence the eccentric Captain Phil.
Beaver declared that he 'would rather carry a rattlesnake than a negro who
has been in London.' I have met with some ugly developments of
home-education. One was a yellow Dan Lambert, the son of a small
shopkeeper, who was returning--dubbed a 'Templar'--from the Land of
Liberty. He was not a pleasant companion. His face was that of a porker
half-translated; he yelped the regular Tom Coffee laugh; and when asked
why Sa Leone had not contributed to the Crimean Widow Fund, he uttered the
benevolent wish that 'the damned ---- and their brats might all starve
like their husbands.' Another was a full-blooded negro, a petty huckster
at the 'Red Grave,' who, in his last 'homeward' voyage, had met at Madeira
the Dean and Deaness of Oxbridge. The lady resolved to keep up the
creditable acquaintanceship: so strong is feminine love for the 'black
lion.' Shortly afterwards Niger paid his promised visit, which he
described graphically and sans sense of shame--how he had been met at the
station by a tall gentleman in uniform and gold-laced hat, how he was
invited to enter a carriage, and how great was his astonishment when the
'officer' preferred standing in the open air behind to accompanying him
inside. After this naive _debut_ he showed tact. Mr. Dean wished to know
if anything could be done towards advancing the interesting guest in his
'profession'--not trade. We talk of an English school-master, but a
mulatto or a negro becomes a 'professor.' Niger whispered 'No,' which,
ladylike, meant a distinct 'Yes.' He ended by graciously accepting an
introduction to a Manchester firm, and soon relieved it of 16,000_l_.
No one who knows the West African coast will assert that the influence of
Sa Leone has been in any way for good. All can certify that this colony,
intended as a 'model of policy,' and founded with the object of promoting
African improvement, has been the greatest obstacle to progress. She
fought to keep every advantage to herself, and she succeeded in securing a
monopoly of 'recaptives,' who were more wanted elsewhere. She became an
incubus in 1820, when all British possessions from N. Lat. 20º to S. Lat.
20º were made her dependencies. The snake was scotched in 1844 by the Gold
Coast achieving her independence. Yet Sa Leone raised herself to a
government-general in 1866, and possibly she will do so again.
The Sa Leonite has ever distinguished himself by kicking down, as the
phrase is, the ladder which raised him. No man maltreats his wild brother
so much as the so-called 'civilised' negro: he never addresses his
congener except by 'You jackass!' and tells him ten times a day that he
considers such trash like the dirt beneath his feet. Consequently he is
hated and despised withal, being of the same colour as, while assuming
such excessive superiority over, his former equals. No one also is more
hopeless about the civilisation of Africa than the semi-civilised African
returning to the 'home of his fathers.' He feels how hard has been his
struggle to emerge from savagery; he acknowledges, in his own case, a
selection of species; and he foresees no end to the centuries before there
can be a nation equal even to himself. Yet in England and in books he will
cry up the majesty of African kings,--see, for a specimen, Bishop
Crowther's 'Niger Diary.' He will give his fellow-countrymen, whom he
thoroughly despises, a thousand grand gifts of morals and industry. I have
heard a negro assert, with the unblushing effrontery which animates the
Exeter Hall speechifier, that at some African den of thieves men leave
their money with impunity in the storehouse or on the highway. I read the
assertion of a mulatto, who well knew the contrary, 'A white man who
supposes himself respected in Africa, because he is white, is grievously
mistaken.' The 'aristocracy of colour' is a notable and salient fact in
Africa, where the chiefs are lighter hued and better grown than their
subjects; and the reason is patent--they marry the handsomest women.
Finally, the Sa Leonite is the horror of Europeans on the West Coast. He
has been formally expelled by his neighbours, the Liberians. At Lagos and
Abeokuta he lost no time in returning to his original fetishism, which the
'recaptive' apparently can never throw off. Moreover, he became an
inveterate slave-dealer, impudently placing himself under native
protection, and renegading the flag that saved the crime-serf from
lifelong servitude. These 'insolent, vagabond loafers' were the only men
who gave me much trouble in the so-called 'Oil rivers,' where one of them
accused a highly respected Scotch missionary of theft. Finally, the Gaboon
merchants long preferred forfeiting the benefits of the mail-steamers to
seeing themselves invaded by a locust tribe, whose loveliest view is,
apparently, that which leads out of Sa Leone.
Part of this demoralisation arose from the over-tenderness of the British
Government, in deference to the philanthropist and the missionary.
Throughout the Bights of Benin and Biafra, where the chief stalks about
with his fetishman and his executioner, there is still some manliness
amongst men, some modesty amongst women. There the offending wife fears
beheading and 'saucy water;' here she leaves with impunity her husband,
who rarely abandons the better half. Consequently the sex has become
vicious as in Egypt--worse than the men, bad as these are. Petty larceny
is carried on to such an extent that no improvement is possible: as
regards property, the peninsula contains the most communistic of
communities. The robbers are expert to a degree; they work naked and well
greased, and they choose early dawn or the night-hour when the tornado is
most violent. The men fight by biting, squeezing, and butting with the
head, like the Brazilian _capoeira_. The women have a truly horrible way
of putting out of the world an obnoxious lover. Ask an Aku if an Ibo is
capable of poisoning you: he will say emphatically, 'Yes.' Put the same
question to an Ibo touching an Aku, and he will not reply, 'No.'
With respect to the relative position of Japhet and Ham--perhaps I should
say Ham and Japhet--ultra-philanthropy has granted all the aspirations of
the Ethiopian melodist:--
wish de legislator would set dis darkie free;
Oh, what a happy place den de darkie world would be!
We'd have a darkie parliament,
An' darkie code of law,
An' darkie judges on de bench,
Darkie barristers and aw.
I own that darkey must be defended, and sturdily defended too, from the
injustice and cruelty of the class he calls 'poor white trash;' but the
protection should be in reason, or it becomes an injustice. Why, for
instance, did the unwise negrophile propose to protect the Jamaica negro
against the Indian coolie? Because Niger wants it? Pure ignorance and
prejudice of gentlemen who stay at home! Though physically and mentally
weaker than Europeans, the negro can hold his own, as Sa Leone proves, by
that combination which enables cattle to resist lions. Japhet Albus is by
nature aggressive; if not, he would not now be dwelling in the tents of
Shem and the huts of Ham. He feels towards Contrarius Albo as the
game-cock regards the dunghill-fowl. Displays of this sentiment on the
part of the white population must be repressed; but this should be done
fairly and without passion.
I do not for a moment regret our philanthropical move, despite its awful
waste of life and gold. England, however can do her duty to Africa without
cant, and humbug, and nonsense about the 'sin and crime of slavery.'
Serfdom, like cannibalism and polygamy, are the steps by which human
society rose to its present status: to abuse them is ignorantly to kick
down the ladder. The spirit of Christianity may tend to abolish servitude;
but the letter distinctly admits it, and the translators have unfairly
rendered 'slave' and 'bondsman' by 'servant,' which is absurd. England can
fight, if necessary, against a traffic which injures the free man, but she
might abstain from abusing those who do not share her opinions. The
anti-slavery party has hitherto acted rather from sentiment than from
reason; and Mr. Buckle was right in determining that morality must be
ruled by, and not rule, intellect. We have one point in our favour. The
_dies atra_ between 1810-20, when a man could not speak what he thought
upon the subject of slavery, ended as the last slave left the West African
coast; and yet I doubt whether the day is yet come when we can draw upon
the great labour-bank of Africa and establish that much-wanted
institution, the black _ouvrier libre_.
There are several classes interested in pitting black man against white
man. An unscrupulous missionary will, for his own ends, preach resistance
to time-honoured customs and privileges which Niger has himself accepted.
An unworthy lawyer will urge litigation; a dishonest judge or
police-magistrate will make popularity at the expense of equity and
honour; a weak-minded official will fear the murmurs, the complaints, and
the memorials of those under him, and the tomahawking which awaits him
from the little army of negrophiles at home. But the most dangerous class
of all is the mulatto; he is everywhere, like wealth, _irritamenta
malorum_. The 'bar sinister,' and the fancy that he is despised, fill him
with ineffable gall and bitterness. Inferior in physique to his black, and
in _morale_ to his white, parent, he seeks strength by making the families
of his progenitors fall out. Had the Southern States of America deported
all the products of 'miscegenation,' instead of keeping them in servitude,
the 'patriarchal institution' might have lasted to this day instead of
being prematurely abolished.
My first visit to Sa Leone showed me the root of all her evils. There is
hardly a peasant in the peninsula. Had the 'colony-born' or older
families, the 'King-yard men,' or recaptives, and the creoles, or children
of liberated Africans, been apprenticed and compelled to labour, the
colony would have become a flourishing item of the empire. Now it is the
mere ruin of an emporium; and the people, born and bred to do nothing,
cannot prevail upon themselves to work. But the 'improved African' has an
extra contempt for agriculture, and he is good only at destruction. Rice
and cereals, indigo and cotton, coffee and arrowroot, tallow-nuts and
shea-butter, squills and jalap, oil-palms and cocoas, ginger, cayenne, and
ground-nuts are to be grown. Copal and bees'-wax would form articles of
extensive export; but the people are satisfied with maize and roots,
especially the cassava, which to Sa Leone is a curse as great as the
potato has proved to Ireland. Petty peddling has ever been, and still is,
the 'civilised African's' _forte_. He willingly condemns himself to spend
life between his wretched little booth and his Ebenezer, to waste the week
and keep the Sabbath holy by the 'holloaing of anthems.' His _beau ideal_
of life is to make wife and children work for, feed and clothe him, whilst
he lies in the shady piazza, removing his parasites and enjoying porcine
existence. His pleasures are to saunter about visiting friends; to grin
and guffaw; to snuff, chew, and smoke, and at times to drink
_kerring-kerry_ (_cana_ or _caxaca_), poisonous rum at a shilling a
bottle. Such is the life of ignoble idleness to which, by not enforcing
industry, we have condemned these sable tickets-of-leave.
Before quitting the African coast I diffidently suggested certain steps
towards regenerating our unhappy colony. For the encouragement of
agriculture I proposed a tax upon small shopkeepers and hucksters, who, by
virtue of sitting behind a few strings of beads or yards of calico, call
themselves traders and merchants. This measure, by-the-by, was attempted
in 1879 by Governor Rowe, but the strong opposition compelled him to
withdraw it. I would have imposed a heavy tax upon all grog-shop licenses,
and would have allowed very few retail-shops in the colony.
Police-magistrates appeared to me perfectly capable of settling disputes
and of punishing offenders. I would have discouraged the litigation which
the presence of lawyers and a bench suggests, and which causes such
heartburn between Europeans and Africans. I would have established a Court
of Summary Jurisdiction, and never have allowed a black jury to 'sit upon'
a white man, or _vice versa_; and in the case of a really deserving negro
or mulatto I would rather see him appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland
than Governor or Secretary of Sa Leone.
On my last journey I met the Hon. Mr. T. Risely Griffith, a West Indian
and Colonial Secretary at Sa Leone. He kindly read what I had written
about the white man's Grave, and found it somewhat harsh and bitter. At
the same time he gave me, with leave to use, his valuable lecture
delivered before the Royal Colonial Institute. [Footnote: _The Colonies
and India_, a weekly newspaper. London: December 17, 1881.] Making
allowance for the official _couleur de rose_, and reading between the
lines, I found that he had stated, in parliamentary language, what had
been told by me in the rude tongue of a traveller. The essay, he assured
me, had been well received at Sa Leone; and yet, to my knowledge, the
newspapers of the western coast had proposed to make it the subject of an
Hear what Mr. Griffith has to say upon the crucial question--agriculture.
'The ordinary observer cannot fail to be impressed with the great number
of traders and hawkers. In the peninsula of Sierra Leone there are
returned 53,862; of these, traders and hawkers number 10,250, or about 19
per cent., or, including hucksters, 23 per cent. Little good can result to
a country as long as one-fourth of its people are dependent for their
livelihood for what they sell to the remaining three-quarters.... The same
tendency to engage in the work of distribution rather than the production
of wealth seems to be a general characteristic of the negro race.
'The real number of artisans or mechanics who have any right to the term
is very limited; and it is to be regretted that in Sierra Leone, where the
people are apt to learn, and tolerably quick to apply, there is not a
greater number of thorough workmen to teach their handicrafts and make
them examples for the rising generation. A youth who has been two years
with a carpenter, boat-builder, blacksmith, or mason, arrogates the name
to himself without compunction, and frequently, whilst he is learning from
an indifferent teacher the rudiments of his trade, he sets up as a master.
There is hardly a single trade that can turn out half a dozen men who
would be certificated by any European firm for possessing a thorough
knowledge of it. Of all trades in Sierra Leone, and certainly in Freetown,
that of tailoring is the most patronised, but this arises from the love of
dress, which is inherent.
'The proper cultivation of the soil is, and must always be, the true
foundation of prosperity in any country. The shop cannot flourish unless
the farm supports it, and the friends of the colony regard with anxiety
the centralisation of capital at Freetown. I have been gratified, however,
to notice that the desire to acquire land and cultivate it has lately
increased to a very great extent, and I regard it as a very hopeful sign
for the future. The people still want two things, capital and scientific
agricultural knowledge. The native implements are of the rudest
kind--their hoes little more than sufficient to scratch the ground, and
their only other implement a cutlass to cut down the bush. Ploughs are
unknown, and spades very little used. Wheelbarrows are detested, although
they are not quite unknown; the people would sooner "tote" the soil in a
box on their heads, and instances are on record where the negro has
"toted" the wheelbarrow itself, wheel, handle, and all.'
Mr. Griffith further informs us that the Colonial Government is desirous
of fostering and encouraging agriculture; that it proposes to establish,
or rather to re-establish, a model farm; that lands have been granted at a
trifling sum to Mr. William Grant on condition of his devoting capital and
labour to the development of agriculture; that Mr. Thomas Bright has laid
out a coffee and cocoa farm at Murray Town; and that Mr. Samuel Lewis, a
barrister-at-law, universally well spoken of, is engaged in cultivation,
with a view of studying the best methods and of influencing his
fellow-countrymen in favour of agricultural pursuits. Major Bolton also is
working the land seventeen miles down coast, and planting cocoa-nuts,
chocolate, and Kola-trees. The latter, when ten years old, are said each
to fetch 15_l_. per annum. Here, therefore, we have at least a beginning.
During the discussion on Mr. Griffith's lecture, some home-truths were
told by the Hon. Mr. Grant, [Footnote: This 'eminent African,' who had
gone to England with the view of buying agricultural implements and an
ice-machine, died in London on January 28, 1881. His speech, therefore,
was delivered only a week or so before his death. Much fulsome praise of
him followed in the press, which seemed completely surprised that a black
man could talk common sense.] a full-blooded negro, of the Ibo tribe, and
a member of the Sierra Leone Legislative Council. He objected to the term
'white man's Grave.' He bravely and truly told his audience that if the
French held possession of Sa Leone they would have made it a 'different
thing.' After praising the present Governor's instruction-ordinance he
spoke these remarkable words:--
'But education from the point I allude to is that practical education
which develops the man and makes him what he is, not the education which
makes him simply the blind imitator of what he is not. Of course the
education, as originally introduced into the colony, was an experiment,
and a grand experiment it was. They said, "There are these people, and we
will educate them as ourselves." It was a good idea, but it was defective,
because there is as great a difference between the negro and the white man
as there can be. He is capable of doing anything that the white man can
do; but then, to get him to do that, you must educate him in himself. You
must bring him out by himself: you must not educate him otherwise. He must
be educated to carry out a proper and distinct course for himself. The
complaint has been general of the want of success in the education of the
negro; but it is not his fault: the fault is from the defect of his
education. He fancies, by the sort of education which you give him, that
he must imitate you in everything--act like you, dress in broadcloth like
you, and have his tall black hat like you. Then you see the result is that
he is not himself; he confuses himself, and when he comes to act within
himself as a man he is confused, and you find fault that he has not
improved as he ought to do. But if he is properly educated you will find
him of far greater assistance to you than you have any idea of.'
The remarks on agriculture and on capital were equally apposite; and
Captain Cameron remarked that these were the 'truest words of wisdom about
Africa that it ever was his lot to hear.' They will leave a sweet savour
in the reader's mouth after a somewhat acid chapter.
But the ingrained idleness of generations is not so easily cleared away.
The real cure for Sa Leone will be an immigration of Chinese or of Indian
coolies, that will cheapen labour and enable men of capital to farm on a
large scale. It may be years before agriculture supplants trade with its
light work and ready profits; but the supplanting process itself will do
good. At present Sa Leone finds it cheaper to import salt from England
than to lay out a salina, and to make an article of commerce which finds
its way into the furthest interior. Immigration, I repeat, is the sole
panacea for the evils which afflict the Lioness Range.
FROM SA LEONE TO CAPE PALMAS.
Frowsy old Sa Leone bestowed on us a parting smile. After a roaring
tornado at night and its terminal deluge, the morning of January 19 broke
clear and fine. We could easily trace, amongst the curious series of
volcanic cones, the three several sanitary steps on the Leicester or
Lioness Hill. These are, first the hospice of the French Jesuits, now
officers' quarters; then a long white shed, the soldiers' hospital; and
highest (1,700 feet) the box which lodges their commandant. Even the
seldom-seen 'Sugarloaf' was fairly outlined against the mild blue vault.
Although the withering hand of summer was on the scene, the old
charnel-house looked lovely; even the low lines of the Bullom shore
borrowed a kind of beauty from the air. The hues were those of Heligoland
set in frames of lapis lazuli above and of sapphire below; golden sand,
green strand of silky Bermuda-grass, and red land showing chiefly in banks
and thready paths. Again we admired the dainty and delicate beauties of
the shore about Pirate Bay and other ill-named sites. Then bidding adieu
to the white man's Red Grave and steering south-west, we gave a wide berth
to the redoubted 'Carpenter,' upon which the waves played; to the shoals
of St. Anne, and to a multitude of others which line the coast as far as
that treacherous False Cape and lumpy Cape Shelling or Shilling, whose
prolongation is the Banana group.
Sherbro, fifty miles distant, was passed at night. Then (sixty miles) came
the Gallinas River, a great centre of export, which has not forgotten
Pedro Blanco. This prince of slavers, whose establishment appears on the
charts of 1836-38, imported no goods; he bought cargoes offered to him and
he paid them by bills on England, drawing, says the Coast scandal, upon
two Quaker brothers at Liverpool. Not a little curious that our country
supplied the money both to carry on the _traite_ and to put it down. Three
miles south of the Gallinas the Sulayma River flows in. Here the scenery
suggests a child's first attempt at colouring in horizontal lines; a
dangerous surf ever foams white upon the yellow shore, bearing an eternal
growth of green. Two holes in the bush and a few thatched roofs, separated
by a few miles, showed the Harris factories, which caused frequent
teapot-storms between 1865 and 1878. The authorities of Liberia, model
claimants with a touch of savage mendicancy, demanded the land and
back-dues from time immemorial. 'Palaver' was at last 'set' by the late
lamented David Hopkins, consul for the Bights, in the presence of a
British cruiser and two American ships of war.
The weather resumed its old mood, a mixture in equal parts of 'Smokes' and
of Harmatan or Scirocco. At noon next day we steamed by Cape Mount, the
northernmost boundary of Liberia, [Footnote: The 'liberateds' of Liberia,
who lose nothing by not asking, claim the shore from the Sam Pedro River
southwards to the Jong, an affluent of the Shebar or Sherbro stream, 90
miles north of Cape Mount. We admit their pretensions as far only as the
Sugary River, four miles above the Mafa (Mafaw), or Cape Mount stream.] a
noble landmark and a place with a future. Approaching it, we first see the
dwarf bar of the Mafa, draining a huge lagoon ('Fisherman's Lake'). On the
banks and streams are sundry little villages, Kru Town and Port Robert,
the American mission-ground. The harbour is held to be the first of five,
the others being Monrovia; Grand Bassa (Bassaw), with Edina; Sinou, and
The Mount is an isolated rocky tongue rising suddenly like an island from
the low levels, and trending north-west to south-east. The site is
perfectly healthy; the ground is gravel, not clay, and the stone is
basalt. The upper heights are forested and full of game; the lower are
cleared and await the colonist. With the pure and keen Atlantic breeze
ever blowing over it, the Mount is a ready-made sanatorium. Its youth has
been disreputable. Here Captain Canot, [Footnote: _Wanderings in West
Africa_, vol. i. chap. v.] the Franco-Italian lieutenant of Pedro Blanco,
sold the coast till compelled by H.M. cruisers to fall back upon honest
trade. His name survives in 'Canot's Tree,' under whose shade he held his
palavers. Let us hope that the respectable middle age of Cape Mount will
be devoted to curing the sick coaster.
Beyond this fine headland, a handsome likeness of Holyhead seen from the
south, stretch the long, low, dull shores of Liberia, canopied by unclean
skies and based on dirty-looking seas. The natives, who, as usual, are new
upon the coast, and who preserve curious traditions about their
predecessors, are the Vai (not Vei), a Mandengan race still pagan. They
call, however, the world 'duniya,' and the wife 'namusi,' words which show
whence their ideas are derived. Their colour is lighter than the Kruman's;
there are pretty faces, especially amongst the girlish boys, and the fine
feet and delicate hands are those of 'les Gabons.' And they are
interesting on two other counts. Their language combines the three several
forms of human speech, the isolating (_e.g._ 'love'), the agglutinating
('lovely'), and the polysynthetic ('loving,' 'loved'). Furthermore they
developed an alphabet, or rather a syllabary, which made much noise
amongst missionary 'circles,' and concerning which Lt. Forbes, R.N., Mr.
Norris, and Herr Koelle wrote abundant nonsense. Its origin is still
unknown. Some attribute it to direct inspiration (whatever that may mean),
others to marks traced upon the sand originally by boys stealing
palm-wine. My belief is that the suggestion came from the Moslems. Of late
years it has been waxing obsolete, and few care to write their letters in
The Vai, who extend as far as Little Cape Mount River, are depicted in a
contrast of extremes. Mr. H. C. Creswick, [Footnote: Late manager of the
'Gold Coast Mining Company.' Mr. Creswick treated the subject in 'Life
amongst the Veys' (_Trans. Ethnol. Soc. of London_, 1867). He tells at
full length the curious legend of their immigration, and notes the same
reverence for the crocodile which prevails at Dixcove and prevailed in
Egypt.] who long dwelt amongst them, and dealt with them from Cape Mount,
gives a high character to those who have not been perverted by
civilisation. He found the commonalty civil, kind, and hospitable; active
and industrious, to a certain extent. Their palm-oil is the best on the
coast, and can be drunk like that of the olive or the cod-liver. The
chiefs he describes as gentlemen. The missionaries assert that they are
wholly without morals, never punishing the infringement of marital rights;
petty thieves, and idle and feckless to the last degree. Certain Monrovia
men have laid out farms of coffee and _cacao_ (chocolate) upon the St.
Paul River, which, heading in Mandenga-land, breaks the chord of the bay;
but nothing can induce these ex-pets or their congeners, the Golas and the
Pesis, to work.
Like most of the coast-races, the Vai seem to be arrant cowards. The
headmen salute their visitors Arab-fashion, with flourishes of the sword;
but swording ends there. Of late they were attacked by the savages of the
interior, Gallinas, Pannis, and Kusus. The latter, meaning the 'wolves' or
the 'wild boars,' is the popular nickname of the Mendi or Mindi tribes,
occupying the Sherbro-banks. They did excellent service in the last
Ashanti war (1873-74) by flogging forward the fugitive Fantis. Winwood
Keade, [Footnote: _The Story of the Ashanti Campaign_. Smith & Elder,
London, 1874. It is a thousand pities that the volume was pruned, to use
the mildest term. My friend's memory seems to brighten with the years,
doubtless the effect of his heroic honesty in telling what he held to be
the truth. His _Martyrdom of Man_, in which even his publisher did not
believe, has reached a fourth edition; it was quoted by Mr. Gladstone, and
Mrs. Grundy still buys it, in order to put it behind the fire.] an
excellent judge of Africans, declares that they are very courageous, 'keen
as mustard' for the fray. On the raid they creep up to and surround the
doomed village; they raise the war-cry shortly before sunrise, and, as the
villagers fly, they tell them by the touch. If the body feels warm after
sleep, unlike their own dew-cooled skins, it soon becomes a corpse. They
advance with two long knives, generally matchets, one held between the
teeth. They prefer the white arm because 'guns miss fire, but swords are
like the chicken's beak, that never fails to hit the grain.' Some 250 of
these desperadoes lately drove off 5,000 of the semi-civilised recreants
and took about 560 prisoners, including the 'King' of the Vai.
After covering forty-three miles from Cape Mount we anchored (5 P.M.) in
the long, monotonous roll under Mount Mesurado. The name was probably
Monserrate, given by the early Portuguese. It is entitled the Cradle of
Liberia. The idea of restoring to Africa recaptured natives and manumitted
slaves was broached in 1770 by the Rev. Samuel Hopkins, of Newport, R.I.
The scheme for 'civilising and christianising' the natives assumed organic
form at Washington in 1816. In January 1820 the first emigrants embarked
from New York for 'Liberia.' The original grant of land was made (April
1822) to the 'American Society for Colonising the Free People of the
United States,' by King Peter and sundry chiefs of the Grain Coast, who
little knew what they were doing. The place was described in those days as
an Inferno, the very head and front of the export trade, the waters
swarming with slavers, the shore bearing forty slave-factories, and the
whole showing scenes of horror which made the site 'Satan's seat of
abominations.' It has now changed its nature with its name, and has become
the head-quarters of Dullness, that goddess who, we are assured, never
Mesurado Mount, with the inverted cataract rushing white up its black
rocks, is a picturesque feature. Halfway clearings for coffee-plantations,
with a lime-washed bungalow, the President's country-quarters, lead to the
feathered and forested crest which bears the 'pharos.' This protection
against wreck is worse than nothing; it is lighted with palm-oil every
night, and then left to its own sweet will. Consequently the red glimmer,
supposed to show at thirteen miles, is rarely visible beyond three. A
dotting of white frame-houses and curls of blue smoke betray the capital.
It lurks behind the narrow sand-bar which banks the shallow and useless
Mesurado River, and few men land without an involuntary ablution in the
salt water. Usually the stream mouths by an ugly little bar at some
distance from the roadstead; after heavy rains it bursts the sand-strip
and discharges in straight line.
We had visitors that evening from the Yankee-Doodle-niggery colony,
peopled by citizens who are not 'subjects.' Bishop C. C. Pinnock, absent
from his home at Cape Mount, dined with us and told me about the death of
an old friend, good Bishop Payne. His successor objects to learning and
talking native tongues, and he insists upon teaching English to all the
mission-scholars. His reasons are shrewd, if not convincing; for instance,
'most languages,' says the Right Reverend, 'have some term which we
translate "love." But "love" in English is not equivalent to its
representative in Kru or in Vai. Therefore by using their words I am
expressing their ideas; I bring them over to mine by the reverse process.'
We shipped for Grand Bassa two citizens, a lawyer and an attorney. Of
course one was an 'Honourable;' [Footnote: Even the Coast English are
always confounding the Hon. John A. (son of a peer) with the Hon. Mr. A.
(official rank), and I have seen sundry civilians thus mis-sign
themselves.] as Mr. H. M. Stanley says, [Footnote: _Coomassie and
Magdala_. New York, Harpers, 1874.] 'mostly every other man is here so
styled.' They talked professionally of the 'Whig ticket' and the
'Re-publican party,' but they neither 'guess'd' nor 'kalklated,' and if
they wore they did not show revolvers and bowie-knives. They did not say,
'We air a go-ahead people,' they were not given to 'highfalutin',' nor did
they chew their tobacco. They were, however, accompanied by an extremely
objectionable 'infant,' aged seven, who lost no time in laying hands upon
Miss M.'s trinkets, by way of returning civility. Her father restored
them, treating the theft as a matter of course.
The citizens gave me sundry details about the 'rubber'-trade, which began
in 1877. Monrovia now exports to England and the Continent some 100,000
lbs., which sell at 1_s_. 4_d_. each. Gum-elastic is gathered chiefly by
the Bassa people, who are, however, too lazy to keep it clean; they store
it in grass-bags and transport it in canoes. Liberian coffee is, or rather
would be, famous if produced in sufficient quantities to satisfy demand.
At present it goes chiefly to the United States, where, like Mocha, it
serves to flavour burnt maize. Messieurs Spiers and Pond would buy any
quantity of it, and of late years Brazilian coffee-planters have taken
shoots to be grown at home. Here it fetches 1_s_. per lb.; in England the
price doubles. This coffee requires keeping for many months, or the
infusion is potent enough to cause the 'shakes;' it is the same with
Brazilian green tea. The bouquet is excellent, and the flavour pretty
good. There is a great difference in the shape of the beans, which range
between the broad flat Harar and the small, round, horny Mocha.
I could obtain few details concerning the 'Black Devil Society,' which
suggests the old 'Know-nothings.' It has been, they say, somewhat active
in flogging strangers, especially Sa Leone men. Most of the latter,
however, have been expelled for refusing to change their style from
'subjects' to 'citizens'--a foreign word in English and Anglo-African
At the time of our visit the republic was in a parlous state. H.E. Mr.
Gardiner, the new President, refused to swear in the Upper House, and the
Lower refused to acknowledge the Presidential authority. Consequently
business had been at a standstill for six weeks. We were disappointed in
our hopes of being accompanied by the Honourable Professor E. W. Blyden,
ex-minister to England and afterwards principal of the college. He had
travelled with Winwood Reade, and I looked forward to hearing the opinions
of an African Arabic scholar touching the progress and future of El-Islam
in the Dark Continent. That it advances with giant steps may be proved by
these figures. Between 1861 and 1862 I found at most a dozen Moslems at
Lagos; in 1865 the number had risen to 1,200, and in 1880, according to my
old friend M. Colonna, Agent Consulaire de France, it passes 10,000,
requiring twenty-seven mosques.
The latest charts of Liberia show no less than twenty-six parallelograms
stretching inland, at various angles with the shore, and stated to have
been acquired by 'conquest or purchase' between 1822 and 1827; but the
natives, especially the Krumen, complain that after allowing the
foreigners to dwell, amongst them they have been despoiled of their
possessions, and that, once lords of the soil, they have sunk to mere
serfs. Hence the frequent wars and chronic bad blood. Every African
traveller knows the meaning of land-purchase in these regions. There are
two ideas peculiar to the negro brain, but apparently inadmissible into
European heads. The first is the non-alienation of land. Niger never parts
with his ground in perpetuity; he has always the mental reservation, while
selling it to a stranger, that the soil and its improvements return to him
by right after the death or the departure of the purchaser. Should the
settler's heirs or assignees desire to remain _in loco_, they are expected
to pay a fresh gratification; the lessor will raise his terms as high as
possible, but public opinion will oblige him to remain content with a
'dash,' or present, equivalent to that paid by the original lessee.
The second idea is even more repugnant to European feelings. In Africa a
born chattel is a chattel for ever: the native phrase is, ''Pose man once
come up slave, he be slave all time.' There is no such thing as absolute
manumission: the unsophisticated _libertus_ himself would not dream of
claiming it. We have on board a white-headed negro in an old and
threadbare Dutch uniform, returning from Java on a yearly pension of
fifteen dollars. According to treaty he had been given by the King of
Ashanti to the Hollanders, and he had served them so long that he spoke
only Low German and Malay. He will be compelled to end his career
somewhere within the range of our fort-guns, or his owner's family will
claim and carry off their property.
At 8 A.M. we steamed against a fine fresh wind past mount Mesurado _en
route_ for Grand Bassa (Bassaw), distant fifty-five miles. To port lies
Montserrado County, where the shore-strip looks comparatively high and
healthy. The Bassas begin some thirty miles below the Jong River, and now
we enter the regions of Grand, Middle, and Little Piccaninny
(_pequenino_), Whole and Half, _i.e._ half-way. Thus we pass, going
south-wards, Bassa, Middle Bassa, Grand Bassa, and Bassa Cove, followed by
Cestos and Cess, Settra and Sesters, Whole and Half. The coast is well
known, while the interior is almost unexplored. Probably there is no
inducement to attract strangers.
We are grateful for small mercies, and note a picturesque view from the
open roadstead of Grand Bassa. The flats are knobbed with lumpy mounds;
North Saddle Hill, with its central seat; Tall Hill; the blue ridges of
the Bassa Hills, and St. John's Hill upon the line of its river. Nothing
can be healthier than these sites, which are well populated; and the
slopes are admirably fitted for that 'Arabian berry' whose proper home is
Africa. But, while hill-coffee has superior flavour lowland-coffee is
preferred in commerce, because the grain is larger and heavier.
Grand Bassa is the only tract in Liberia where the Sa Leonite is still
admitted. The foreshore of yellow sand, pointed and dotted by lines and
falls of black rock, fronts a shallow bay as foul and stony as the coast.
Here are three settlements, parted by narrow walls of 'bush.' Edina, the
northernmost, is said to do more business than any other port in the
republic; she also builds fine, strong surf-boats of German and American
type, carrying from one to five tons. The keels are bow-shaped, never
straight-lined from stem to stern; and the breakers are well under the
craft before their mighty crests toss it aloft and fling it into the deep
trough. They are far superior to the boats with weather-boards in the fore
which formerly bore us to land. The crew scoop up the water as if digging
with the paddle; they vary the exercise by highly eccentric movements, and
they sing savage barcarolles the better to keep time.
The middle settlement is Upper Buchanan, whose river, the St. John's, owns
a bar infamous as that of Lagos for surf and sharks. The southernmost,
Lower Buchanan, is defended by a long and broken wall of black reef, but
the village is far from smooth water. All these 'towns' occupy holes in a
curtain of the densest and tallest greenery. They are composed of groups
and scatters of whitewashed houses, half of them looking like chapels and
the other like toys. Each has its adjunct of brown huts, the native
quarter. These Bassa tribes must not be confounded with their neighbours
the Krumen; the languages are quite different, and the latter is of much
harsher sound. There is no doubt of this being a good place for engaging
labour, and it is hoped that in due time Bassa-hands, who work well, will
be engaged for the Gold Coast mines. At present, however, they avoid
English ships, call themselves 'Americans,' and willingly serve on board
the Yankee craft which load with coffee, cam-wood, and palm-oil.
We steamed along the Cape, River, and Town of Sinou, the very home of the
Krao, or Krumen, strictly speaking a small tribe. Returning
homeward-bound, we here landed a host of men from the Oil-rivers, greatly
to my delight, as they had cumbered the deck with their leaky powder-kegs,
amid which wandered the sailors, smoking unconcernedly. In the 'good old
times' this would not have been allowed. At least one poor fellow was
drowned, so careful were the relatives to embark the kit, so careless of
the owner's person. Next day we sighted the 'Garraway-trees,' silk cottons
some 200 feet high, fine marks for clearing the Cape shoals. Then came
Fishtown and Rocktown, once celebrated for the exploits of Ashmun and his
associates; and at 2.15 P.M. we anchored in the heavy Harmatan roll off
The Cape of Palmas, called from palmy shade.
A score of years ago the A.S.S. steamers lay within half a mile of shore;
and, 'barrin'' the ducking, it was easy to land. But the bay is bossed with
rocks and skirted with shoals; they lurk treacherously under water, and
have brought many a tall ship to grief. As for the obsolete hydrographic
charts, they only add to the danger. Two wrecks give us ample warning. One
is a German barque lying close to the bar of the fussy little river; the
other, a huge mass of rust, is the hapless _Yoruba_. Years ago, after the
fashion of the _Nigritia_ and the _Monrovia_, she was carelessly lost.
Though anchored in a safe place, when swinging round she hit upon a rock
and was incontinently ripped up; the injured compartment filled, and the
skipper ran her on the beach, wrecking her according to Act of Parliament.
They once managed to get her off, but she had not power to stem the seas,
and there she still lies high and dry.
Cape Palmas, or Bamnepo, with its outlying islet-reef of black rock, on
which breaks an eternal surf, is the theoretical turning-point from the
Windward coast, which begins with the Senegal, to the Leeward, and which
ends in the Benin Bight. We are entering the region
_Unde nigerrimus Auster_
Practically and commercially the former is worked by the Bristol barques
and the latter commences at Cape Threepoints. The bold headland, a hundred
feet tall and half a mile broad by a quarter long, bounded north by its
river, has a base of black micaceous granite supporting red argillaceous
loam. Everywhere beyond the burning of the billows the land-surface is
tapestried with verdure and tufted with cocoas; they still show the
traditional clump which gave the name recorded by Camoens. The neck
attaching the head to the continent-body is a long, low sand-spit; and the
background sweeps northward in the clear grassy stretches which African
travellers agree to call 'parks.' These are fronted by screens of tall
trees, and backed by the blue tops of little hills, a combination which
strongly reminded me of the Gaboon.
The prominent building is still the large white-washed mission-house with
its ample windows and shady piazzas: the sons of St. Benedict could not
have placed it better. In rear lies the square tower yclept a lighthouse,
and manipulated like that of Monrovia; its range is said to be thirteen
miles, but it rarely shows beyond five. An adjacent flagstaff bears above
the steamer-signal the Liberian arms, stripes and a lone star not unknown
to the ages between Assyria and Texas. The body of the settlement lying
upon the river is called Harper, after a 'remarkable negro,' and its
suburbs lodge the natives. When I last visited it the people were rising
to the third stage of their architecture. The first, or nomad, is the hide
or mat thrown over a bush or a few standing sticks; then comes the
cylinder, the round hovel of the northern and southern regions, with the
extinguisher or the oven-shaped thatch-roof; and, lastly, the square or
oblong form which marks growing civilisation. The American missionaries
laboured strenuously to build St. Mark's Hospital and Church, the latter a
very creditable piece of lumber-work, with 500 seats in nave and aisles.
But now everything hereabouts is 'down in its luck.' This puerile copy, or
rather caricature, of the United States can console itself only by saying,
FROM CAPE PALMAS TO AXIM.
I had no call to land at Cape Palmas. All my friends had passed away; the
Rev. C. E. Hoffman and Bishop Payne, both in America. Mr. Potter, of the
stores, still lives to eat rice and palm-oil in retirement; but with the
energetic Macgill departed the trade and prosperity of the place. Senator
John Marshall, of Marshall's Hotel, has also gone to the many, and the
stranger's only place of refuge is a mean boarding-house.
Much injury was done to the settlement by the so-called 'Grebo war.' These
wild owners of Cape Palmas are confounded by Europeans with the true
Krumen, their distant cousins. The tribal name is popularly derived from
_gre_, or _gri_, the jumping monkey, and it alludes to a late immigration.
A host of some 20,000 savages closely besieged the settlement and ravaged
all the lands belonging to the intruders, especially the fine 'French
farm.' Fighting ended with a 'treaty of peace and renewal of allegiance'
(_sic!_) at Harper on March 1, 1876, following the 'battle of Harper'
(October 10, 1875). The latter, resulting from an attack on Grebo Big
Town, proved a regular 'Bull's Run,' wherein the citizens lost all their
guns and ammunition, and where the Grebes slaughtered my true and trusty
steward, Selim Agha.
I must allow myself a few lines in memory of a typical man. Selim was a
Nubian of lamp-black skin; but his features were Semitic down to the
nose-bridge, and below it, like the hair, distinctly African: this mixture
characterises the negroid as opposed to the negro. In the first fourth of
the present century he was bought by Mr. Thurburn--_venerabile nomen_--of
Alexandria, and sent for education to North Britain. There he learned to
speak Scotch, to make turtle-soup, to stuff birds, to keep accounts, and
to be useful and valuable in a series of ways. Then his thoughts, full of
philanthropy, turned towards the 'old mother.' The murder of Dr. Barth's
companion, Vogel, in 1856, originated seven fruitless expeditions to
murderous Waday, and he made sundry journeys into the interior. I believe
that he took service for some time with Lieutenant (now Sir John H.)
Glover before he became my factotum between 1860 and 1865. When I left the
Coast he transferred himself to Liberia, where, he wrote, they proposed to
'run him for the presidency.' Selim joined the Monrovians during the Grebo
war as an assistant-surgeon, his object being to mitigate the horrors of
the campaign; and he met his death on October 9, 1875, during the
mismanaged attack on Grebo Big Town. Captain A. B. Ellis, in his amusing
and outspoken 'West African Sketches,' quotes from the 'Liberian
Independent' the following statement: 'Mr. Selim Agha was also overtaken
by the barbarous Greboes, and one of them, "Bye Weah" by name, after
allowing him to read his Bible, which he had by him in his pocket, and
which he made a present of to the barbarian, chopped his body all about,
chopped off his head, which he took to his town with eighteen others, and
threw the body with the gift into the swamp.' The account sounds
trustworthy, especially that about the Bible: it is exactly what the poor
fellow would have done. But many have assured me that he was slaughtered
by mistake during the rout of his party. R.I.P.
Although it has melancholy associations, I can hardly remember without a
smile my last visit to good Bishop Payne. He led me to the mission-school,
a shed that sheltered settles and desks, tattered books, slates and
boards, two native pedagogues, and two lines of pupils sized from the
right, the biggest being nearest the 'boss.' We took our places upon the
bench, and the catechiser, when bade to begin, opened, after a little
hesitation, as follows:--
_Q_. Who he be de fuss man?--_A_. Adam.
_Q_. Who he be de fuss woman?--_A_. Ebe.
_Q_. Whar de Lord put 'em?--_A_. In de garden.
_Q_. What he be de garden?--_A_. Eden.
_Q_. What else he be dere?--_A_. De sarpint.
_Q_. What he be de sarpint?--_A_. De snake.
_Q_. Heigh! What, de snake he 'peak?--_A_. No, him be debbil.
And so forth. The reading was much in the same style. The whole scene
reminded me of a naive narrative [Footnote: _The Gospel to the Africans:
Narrative of the Life and Labours of the Rev. William Jameson._ London:
Hamilton, Adams, & Co., 1861.] which gives the 'following account of the
fall of our First Parents from the lips of an aged negro at the
examination of candidates:'--
'Massa (God) said Adam must nyamee (eat) all de fruit ob de garden, but
(be out, except) de tree of knowledge. And he said to Adam, "Adam! you no
muss nyamee dis fruit, else you dead." De serpent come to say to Mammy
Eve, "Dis fruit berry good; he make you too wise." Mammy she take lillee
(little) bit, and bring de oder harf gib Daddy Adam. Daddee no will taste
it fuss time, but Mammy tell him it be berry good. Den him nyamee de oder
harf. Den Daddy and Mammy been know dat dem be naked. Dey go hide for
bush. Massa come from heaven, but Him no fin' Adam all about. Den Massa
strike Him foot on de ground and say, "I wage Adam been nyamee de fruit."
Massa go seek Adam and fin' him hidin' in de bush, and put him out ob de
garden. Then Daddy and Mammy dey take leaves and sew 'em for clothes.'
The Bishop looked on approvingly. We then spoke of the mysterious Mount
Geddia, the Lybian Thala Oros of Ptolemy. [Footnote: Lib. iv. 6, Sec.Sec. 12,
14, 16, the home of the Thala tribe.]
The people say that it may be seen at times from Settra Kru, that the
distance by round road is some 200 miles, and that none have ascended it
on account of the intense cold. If this be fact, there is a Kilima-njaro
18,000 feet high in Western Africa. The glitter of the white cap has been
visible from great distances, and some would explain it by a bare vein of
quartz--again, Kilima-njaro. The best time to travel would be in October
or November, after the rains; and the Grebo rascals might be paid and
persuaded to supply an escort.
At Cape Palmas we engaged thirty so-called Krumen: only seven were ready
to accompany us, and the rest came nearly two months behind time. This is
the farming season, and the people do not like to leave their field-lands.
Jack Davis, headman, chief, crimp and 'promising' party, had been warned
to be ready by Mr. R. B. N. Walker, whose name and certificate he wore
upon a big silver crescent; but as _Senegal_ appeared on Sunday instead of
Saturday, he gravely declared that his batch had retired to their
plantations--in black-man's English, 'small countries.' We were compelled
to make an advance, a measure unknown of old, and to pay more than double
hire for working on the Gold Coast. These races, Kruboys, Grebos, and
their cognates, have not improved during the last score of years. Their
headmen were old hands approaching the fifties: now they are youths of
twenty-five. The younger sort willingly engaged for three years; now they
begin to notch their tallies for every new moon, and they wax home-sick
after the tenth month. Once they were content to carry home a seaman's
chest well filled with 'chow-chow' and stolen goods; in these days they
must have ready money to deal with the Bristol barques.
Having before described the 'Krao' and the Kru republic, with its four
recognised castes, I need not repeat myself. [Footnote: _Wanderings_, &c.,
vol. ii. chap. vi., which ends with a short specimen of the language.] We
again admired the magnificent development of muscle, which stood out in
bunches as on the Farnese Hercules, set off by the most appropriate dress,
a coloured oblong of loin-cloth, tucked in at the waist. We marvelled too
at the contrast of Grecian figure and cynocephalous features, whose
frizzly thatch, often cut into garden-plots, is unnecessarily protected by
a gaudy greasy cap.
In morals too these men are as peculiar as they are contradictory. They
work, and work well: many old Coasters prefer them to all other tribes.
They are at their best in boats or on board ship, especially ships of war,
where they are disciplined. For carrying burdens, or working in the bush,
they are by no means so valuable and yet, as will be seen, they are highly
thought of by some miners in the Gold Mines. In the house they are at
their worst; and they are a nuisance to camp, noisy and unclean. Their
chief faults are lying and thieving; they are also apt to desert, to grow
discontented, to presume, and ever to ask for more. These qualities are
admirably developed in our headman, Toby Johnson, and his gang. I should
not travel again with Krumen on the Gold Coast.
Another of their remarkable characteristics is the fine union of the
quarrelsome with the cowardly. Like the Wanyamwezi of East-Central Africa,
they will fight amongst themselves, and fight furiously; but they feel no
shame in telling their employers that they sell their labour, not their
lives; that man can die but once; that heads never grow again, and that to
battling they prefer going back to 'we country.' If a ship take fire all
plunge overboard like seals, and the sound of a gun in the bush makes them
run like hares. Yet an English officer actually proposed to recruit a
force of these recreants for field-service in Ashanti. He probably
confounded them with the Wasawahili, the 'Seedy-boys' of the east coast, a
race which some day will prove useful when the Sepoy mutiny shall repeat
itself, or if the difficulties in Egypt be prolonged. A few thousands of
these sturdy fellows would put to flight an army of hen-hearted Hindus or
We left Cape Palmas at 5 P.M., and duly respected the five-fathom deep
'Athole Rock,' so called from the frigate which first made its
acquaintance. The third victim was the B. and A. s.s. _Gambia_ (Captain
Hamilton). [Footnote: Curiously enough a steamer carrying another fine of
palm-oil has come to grief, owing, as usual, to imperfect charts.] She was
carrying home part of the 400 puncheons exacted, after the blockade of
1876, by way of fine, from Gelele, King of Dahome, by the senior naval
officer, Captain Sullivan, the Dhow-chaser. The Juju-men naturally declared
that their magic brought her to such notable grief.
We then passed Grand Tabu (Tabou), in the middle of the bay formed by
Point Tahou--a coast better known fifty years ago than it is now. The only
white resident is Mr. Julio, who has led a rather accidented life. A
native of St. Helena, he fought for the Northerners in the American war,
and proved himself a first-rate rifle-shot. He traded on the Congo, and
travelled like a native far in the interior. Now he has married a wife
from Cape Palmas, and is the leading man at Tabu.
This place, again, is a favourite labour-market. The return of the Krumen
repeats the spectacles of Sinou, and war being here chronic, the canoe-men
come off armed with guns, swords, and matchets. After a frightful storm of
tongues, and much bustle but no work, the impatient steamer begins to
waggle her screw; powder-kegs and dwarf boxes are tossed overboard, and
every attention is bestowed upon them; whilst a boy or two is left behind,
either to swim ashore or to find a 'watery grave.'
Presently we sighted the bar and breakers that garnish the mouth of the
Cavally (Anglice Cawally) River: the name is properly Cavallo, because it
lies fourteen miles, riding-distance, from Cape Palmas. Here Bishop Payne
had his head-quarters, and his branch missions extended sixty miles
up-stream. On the left bank, some fifteen or sixteen miles from the
_embochure_, resides the 'Grand Devil,' equivalent to the Great God, of
Kruland. The place is described as a large caverned rock, where a
mysterious 'Suffing' (something) answers, through an interpreter, any
questions in any tongue, even English, receiving, in return for the
revelations, offerings of beads, leaf-tobacco, and cattle, which are
mysteriously removed. The oracle is doubtless worked by some sturdy knave,
a 'demon-doctor,' as the missionaries call him, who laughs at the beards
of his implicitly-believing dupes. A tree growing near the stream
represents 'Lot's wife's pillar;' some sceptical and Voltairian black was
punished for impious curiosity by being thus 'translated.' Skippers who
treated their 'boys' kindly were allowed, a score of years ago, to visit
the place, and to join in the ceremonies, even as most of the Old Calabar
traders now belong to the 'Egbo mystery.' But of late years a village
called Hidya, with land on both banks, forbids passage. Moreover, Krumen
are not hospitable. Masters and men, cast ashore upon a coast which they
have visited for years to hire hands, are stripped, beaten, and even
tortured by women as well as by men. The savages have evidently not learnt
much by a century's intercourse with Europeans.
Leaving Cavally, the last place where Kruboys can be shipped, we coasted
along the fiery sands snowed over with surf and set in the glorious
leek-green growth that distinguishes the old Ivory Coast. The great Gulf
Stream which, bifurcating at the Azores, sweeps southwards with easting,
now sets in our favour; it is, however, partly a wind-current, and here it
often flows to the west even in winter. The ever-rolling seas off this
'Bristol coast' are almost clear of reef and shoal, and the only storms
are tornadoes, which rarely blow except from the land: from the ocean they
are exceedingly dangerous. Such conditions probably suggested the Bristol
barque trade, which still flourishes between Cape Palmas and Grand Bassam.
A modern remnant of the old Bristolian merchant-adventurers, it was
established for slaving purposes during the last century by Mr. Henry
King, maintained by his sons, Richard who hated men-of-war, and William
who preferred science, and it is kept up by his grandsons for legitimate
The ships--barques and brigs--numbering about twenty-five, are neat,
clean, trim craft, no longer coppered perpendicularly [Footnote: Still
occurs sometimes: the idea is that as they roll more than they sail less
strain is brought on the seams of the copper.] instead of horizontally
after the older fashion. Skippers and crews are well paid for the voyage,
which lasts from a year to fifteen months. The floating warehouses anchor
off the coast where it lacks factories, and pick up the waifs and strays
of cam-wood, palm-oil, and kernels, the peculiar export of the Gold Coast:
at times a tusk or a little gold-dust finds its way on board. The trader
must be careful in buying the latter. Not only have the negroes falsified
it since the days of Bosnian, but now it is made in Birmingham. This false
dust resists nitric acid, yet is easily told by weight and bulk; it blows
away too with the breath, whilst the true does not. Again, the skippers
have to beware of 'fetish gold,' mostly in the shape of broken-up
ornaments of inferior ley.
The Bristolians preserve the old 'round trade,' and barter native produce
against cloth and beads, rum and gin, salt, tobacco, and gunpowder. These
ship-shops send home their exports by the mail-steamers, and vary their
monotonous days by visits on board. They sail home when the cargoes are
sold, each vessel making up her own accounts and leaving 'trust,' but no
debts. The life must be like making one's home in a lighthouse, plus an
eternal roll; and the line gives a weary time to the mail-steamers, as
these never know exactly where the Bristol barques will be found.
After hugging the coast and prospecting Biribi, we sighted the Drewins,
whose natives are a powerful and spirited race, equally accustomed to
either element. There are no better canoe-men on the coast. They ship
only on board the Bristol ships, and they have more than once flogged a
cruel skipper caught ashore. Passing King George's Town, we halted (11
A.M., January 23) opposite the river and settlement of Fresco, where two
barques and a cutter were awaiting supplies. Fresco-land is beautified by
perpendicular red cliffs, and the fine broad beach is feathered with
cocoas which suggest _kopra_--the dried meat of the split kernel. At 3.15
P.M. came Grand Lahou--Bosman's Cabo La Hoe--180 miles from Cape Palmas.
The native settlements of nut-brown huts in the clearings of thick forests
resemble heaps of withered leaves. The French have re-occupied a fort
twenty miles up the pretty barless river, the outlet of a great lagoon; it
was abandoned during the Prusso-Gallic war. Nine Bristol barques were
lying off Three Towns, a place not upon the chart, and at Half-Jack, 205
miles from the Cape. Here we anchored and rolled heavily through the
night, a regular seesaw of head and heels. Seamen have prejudices about
ships, pronouncing some steady and others 'uncommon lively.' I find them
under most circumstances 'much of a muchness.'
The next morning carried us forty miles along the Bassam country and
villages, Little, Piccaninny, and Great, to Grand Bassam. It is a regular
lagoon-land, whose pretty rivers are the outlets of the several sweet
waters and the salt-ponds. Opposite Piccaninny Bassam heads, with its
stalk to the shore and spreading out a huge funnel eastward and westward,
the curious formation known as the 'Bottomless Pit.' The chart shows a
dot, a line, and 200 fathoms. In these days of deep-sea soundings I would
recommend it to the notice of the Hydrographic Office. We know exactly as
much about it in A.D. 1882 as in A.D. 1670, when Ogilvy wrote, 'Six miles
beyond Jak, in Jakko, [Footnote: Bosman's _Jaqui-Jaqui_] is the
_Bottomless Pit_, so called from its unfathomable deepness, for the
seamen, having Sounded with their longest Lines and Plummets, could never
reach the bottom.' It would be interesting to know whether it is an area
of subsidence or a volcanic depression. The adjacent Gold Coast suffers
from terrible earthquakes, as Accra learnt to her cost in 1862.
At 10 A.M. we made Grand Bassam, where the French have had a _Residence_
for many years. Here the famous Marseille house of Regis Freres first made
fortune by gold-barter. The precious ore, bought by the middlemen, a
peculiar race, from the wild tribes of the far interior, appears in the
shape of dust with an occasional small nugget; the traders dislike bars
and ingots, because they are generally half copper. We have now everywhere
traced the trade from Gambia to the Gold Coast, and we may fairly conclude
that all the metal comes from a single chain of Ghauts subtending the
Grand Bassam is included in the French _Cote d'Or_, but not in the English
Gold Coast, which begins east of the Ivory Coast. The Dutch was even
narrower, according to Bosnian: 'Being a part of Guinea, it is extended
about sixty miles, beginning with the Gold River (Assini) twelve miles
above Axim, and ending with Ponni, seven or eight miles east of Accra.'
Grand Bassam has only two European establishments. Eastward lies the
'Blockhouse' of M. Verdier, 'agent of the Government at Assini,' so called
from its battlemented roof. It is the old Fort Nemours, built in 1843. The
'Poste,' abandoned during the war of 1870, was let to Messieurs Swanzy; it
is a series of ridge-roofs surrounded by a whitewashed stockade. Both have
been freely accused of supplying the Ashantis with arms and ammunition
during the last war. Similarly the Gambia is said to have supported the
revolteds of Senegal. The site is vile, liable to be flooded by sea and
rain. The River Akbu or Komo (Comoe), with its spiteful little bar, drains
the realms of Amatifu, King of Assini. It admits small craft, and we see
the masts of a schooner amid the trees. The outlet of immense lagoons to
the east and west, it winds down behind the factories, and bears the
native town upon its banks. Here we discharged only trade-gin, every
second surf-boat and canoe upsetting; the red cases piled upon the beach
looked like a bed of rose-buds. The whole of this coast, as far as Axim,
is so dangerous that men land with their lives in their hands. They
disembark when outward-bound and re-embark when homeward-bound, and in the
interim they never tempt surf and sharks.
The _Senegal_ left Grand Bassam at 5.30 P.M., to cover the eighty-five
miles separating us from our destination. The next important feature is
the Assini River, also the outlet of enormous navigable lagoons, breaking
the continuity of forest-backed sands. It lies fourteen to fifteen miles
(which the chart has diminished to seven) west of the French settlement,
of old Fort Joinville. The latter shows a tiled and whitewashed
establishment, the property of M. Verdier, outlying the normal ant-hill of
brown huts. In 1868 Winwood Reade here found a _poste_ and stockade, a
park of artillery, a commandant, a surgeon, and a detachment of
_tirailleurs senegalais_ levied amongst the warlike Moslem tribes of
Senegambia. Like Grand Bassam it was under the station admiral, who
inspected the two once a year, and who periodically sent a gunboat to
support French interests.
By night we passed New Town, not on the charts, but famed for owning a
fine gold placer north of the town-lagoon. After my departure from the
coast it was inspected by Mr. Grant, who sent home specimens of bitumen
taken from the wells. Then came the two Assinis, eastern and western, both
places of small present importance. The 'Assini Hills' of the chart lie to
the north, not to the south of the Tando water; and by day one can easily
distinguish their broken line, blue and tree-clad. The Franco-English
frontier has been determined after a fashion. According to Mr. Stanford's
last map, [Footnote: Gold Coast, November 20, 1873. A foot-note tells us,
'The whole coast belongs to the English, the French having withdrawn since
1870 from Grand Bassam and Assini' (Winwood Reade). This is obsolete in
1882. The limits of Ashanti-land are immensely exaggerated by this map.]
the westernmost point was in west long. 2º 55' (G.) Thus our territory
begins between Great Assini and New Town, the latter being included in the
Protectorate. This position would reduce the old Gold Coast from 245
direct geographical miles of shore-line between the River Assini (W. long.
3º 23') and the Volta mouth (E. long. 0º 42') to some 217 or 220 in round
numbers. Inland the limit should be the Tando valley, but it has been
fancifully traced north from the Eyhi lagoon, the receptacle of the Tando,
on a meridian of W. long. 2º 50' (G.) to a parallel of N. lat. 6º 30', or
ninety-eight miles from the coast about Axim (N. lat. 4º 52'). Thence it
bends east and south-east to the Ofim, or western fork of the Bosom Prah,
and ascends the Prah proper, separating Ashanti-land (north) from
It should be our object to acquire by purchase or treaty, or both, the
whole territory subject to Grand Bassam and Assini. The reasons may be
gathered from the preceding pages.
By night we also passed Cape Apollonia and its four hummocks, which are
faintly visible from Axim. The name has nothing to do, I need hardly say,
with Apollo or his feasts, the Apolloniae, nor has it any relationship
with the admirable 'Apollinaris water.' It was given by the Portuguese
from the saint [Footnote: Butler's _Lives_ gives 'S. Apollonia (not
Appolonia, as the miners have it), v.m. February 9.' This admirable old
maid leaped into the fire prepared for her by the heathen populace of
Alexandria when she refused to worship their 'execrable divinity.' There
are also an Apollonius (March 5), 'a zealous holy anchorite' of Egyptian
Antinous; and Apollinaris, who about A.D. 376 began to 'broach his
heresy,' denying in Christ a human soul.] who presided over the day of
discovery. In the early half of the present century the King of Apollonia
ruled the coast from the Assini to the Ancobra Rivers; the English built a
fort by permission at his head-quarters, and carried on a large trade in
gold-dust. Meredith (1800) tells us that, when his Majesty deceased, some
twenty men were sacrificed on every Saturday till the 'great customs' took
place six months afterwards. The underlying idea was, doubtless, that of
Dahome: the potentate must not go, like a 'small boy,' alone and
unattended to the shadowy realm. The 'African Cruiser' [Footnote: _Journal
of an African Cruiser_, by an officer of the U.S. navy. Edited by
Nathaniel Hawthorn. Aberdeen: Clark and Son, 1848.] speaks of the royal
palace being sumptuously furnished in European style; of gold cups,
pitchers, and plates, and of vast treasures in bullion. When the King died
sixty victims were slain and buried with their liege lord; besides a
knife, plate, and cup; swords, guns, cloths, and goods of various kinds.
The corpse, smeared with oil and powdered _cap-a-pie_ with gold-dust,
looked like a statue of the noble ore.
As the _Senegal_ advanced under easy steam, we had no rolling off this
roller-coast, and we greatly and regretfully enjoyed the glorious Harmatan
weather, so soon about to cease. The mornings and evenings were cool and
dewy, and the pale, round-faced sun seemed to look down upon us through an
honest northern fog. There was no heat even during the afternoons, usually
so close and oppressive in this section of the tropics. I only wished that
those who marvelled at my preferring to the blustering, boisterous weather
of the Northern Adriatic the genial and congenial climate of West Africa
could have passed a day with me.
AXIM, THE GOLD PORT OF THE PAST AND THE FUTURE.
All the traveller's anxiety about the Known and apprehensions of the
Unknown fell from him like a garment as, after passing the hummocks of
Apollonia, his destination, Axim, [Footnote: The port lies in N. lat. 4º
52' 20" (say 5º round numbers) and in W. long. (Gr.) 2º 14' 45": it must
not be confounded, as often occurs in England, with 'Akim,' the region
north of Accra.] peeped up over the port-bow at dawn of the 25th of
The first aspect of Axim is charming; there is nothing more picturesque
upon this coast.
After the gape of the Ancobra River the foreshore gradually bends for a
few miles from a west-east to a north-south rhumb, and forms a bay within
a bay. The larger is bounded north by Akromasi Point, the southern wall of
the great stream; the bold foreland outlain with reefs and a rock like a
headless sphinx, is known from afar, east and west, by its 'one tree,' a
palm apparently double, the leader of a straggling row. On the south of
the greater bay is Point Pepre, by the natives called Inkubun, or
Cocoanut-Tree, from a neighbouring village; like the Akromasi foreland, it
is black and menacing with its long projection of greenstone reefs, whose
heads are hardly to be distinguished from the flotilla of fishing canoes.
The lesser bay, that of Axim proper, has for limits Pepre and the Bosomato
promontory, a bulky tongue on whose summit is a thatched cottage.
The background of either bay is a noble forest, a wall of green, the items
being often 150 feet high, with branchless white boles of eighty,
perpendicularly striping the verdure. The regular sky-line--broken by tall
knolls and clumps, whose limits are rivulet-courses and bosky dells;
thrown up by refraction; flecked with shreds of heavy mist
That like a broken purpose waste in air;
and dappled with hanging mists, white as snow, and 'sun-clouds,' as the
natives term the cottony nimbus--is easily mistaken, in the dim light of
dawn, for a line of towering cliffs.
The sea at this hour is smooth as oil, except where ruffled by
fish-shoals, and shows comparatively free, today at least, from the long
Atlantic roll which lashes the flat coast east of Apollonia. Its selvage
is fretted by green points, golden sands, and a red cove not unlike the
crater-port of Clarence, Fernando Po. The surface is broken by two islets,
apparently the terminal knobs of many reefs which project westward from
the land. To the north rises Asiniba ('Son of Asini'), a pyramid of rock
below and tree-growth above. Fronting the landing-place is Bobowusua,
[Footnote: The Hyd. Chart calls them Suaba and Bobowassi; it might be a
trifle more curious in the matter of significant words.] or Fetish Island,
a double feature which we shall presently inspect. The foreshore is barred
and dotted perpendicularly by black reefs and scattered _diabolitos_, or
detached hard-heads, which break the surges. At spring-tides, when rise
and fall reach at least ten feet, and fourteen in the equinoctial ebb and
flow, it appears a gridiron of grim black stone. [Footnote: Not as the
Hyd. Chart says--'rise and fall at springs six or seven feet.']
The settlement, backed by its grand 'bush' and faced by the sea, consists
of a castle and a subject town; it wears, in fact, a baronial and
old-world look. Fort Santo Antonio, a tall white house upon a bastioned
terrace, crowns proudly enough a knob of black rock and low green growth.
On both sides of it, north and south, stretches the town; from this
distance it appears a straggle of brown thatched huts and hovels,
enlivened here and there by some whitewashed establishments, mining or 'in
the mercanteel.' The soil is ruddy and rusty, and we have the usual
The agents of the several Aximite houses came on board. We drained the
normal stirrup-cup and embarked in the usual heavy surf-boat, manned by a
dozen leathery-lunged 'Elmina boys' with paddles, and a helmsman with an
oar. There are smaller surf-canoes, that have weather-boards at the bow to
fend off the waves. Our anchorage-place lies at least two miles
south-west-and-by-south of the landing-place. There is absolutely nothing
to prevent steamers running in except a sunken reef, the Pinnacle or
Hoeven Rock. It is well known to every canoeman. Cameron sounded for it,
and a buoy had been laid by fishermen, but so unskilfully that the surge
presently made a clean sweep. Hence a wilful waste of time and work. I
wrote to Messieurs Elder and Dempster, advising them to replace it for
their own interests and for the convenience of travellers; but in Africa
one is out of the world, and receiving answers is emphatically not the
There is no better landing-place than Axim upon this part of the African
coast. The surf renders it impracticable only on the few days of the worst
weather. We hugged the north of the Bobowusua rock-islet. When the water
here breaks there is a clear way further north; the southern passage,
paved with rocks and shoals, can be used only when the seas are at their
smoothest. A regular and well-defined channel placed us on the shingly and
sandy beach. We had a succulent breakfast with Messieurs Gillett and Selby
(Lintott and Spink), to whose unceasing kindness and hospitality we
afterwards ran heavily in debt. There we bade adieu to our genial captain
and our jovial fellow-travellers.
The afternoon was spent in visiting the Axim fort. Santo Antonio, built by
the Portuguese in the glorious days of Dom Manuel (1495-1521), became the
Hollander Saint Anthony by conquest in 1682, and was formally yielded by
treaty to the Dutch West Indian Company. It came to us by convention at
the Hague; and, marked 'ruined' in the chart, it was repaired in 1873
before the Ashanti war. It can now act harbour of refuge, and is safe from
the whole power of the little black despotism. Bosman [Footnote: _Eerste
Brief_, 1737: the original Dutch edition was lent to me by M. Paulus
Dahse.] shows 'Fort St. Antonio' protected by two landward bastions and an
old doorway opening upon a loopholed courtyard. Barbot (1700) sketches a
brick house in gable-shape, based upon a triangular rock.
Passing the Swanzy establishment, a model board-house, with masonry posts,
a verandah all round, and a flying roof of corrugated iron, we ascend the
old paved ramp. Here we remark that the castle-gateway of the Dutch,
leading to the outer or slave court, has been replaced by a mean hole in
the wall. The external work was demolished, lest the enemy effect a
lodgement there. We can walk seawards round the green knob scattered with
black boulders, and pick an excellent salad, a kind of African dandelion,
which the carnivorous English miners called 'grass,'--with a big, big D.
Entering the hole in the wall, and passing through a solid arched gateway
and across a small court upon which the prison opens, we ascend the steps
leading to the upper work. This is a large square house, pierced in front
for one door and three windows, and connected by a bridge, formerly a
drawbridge, with the two tall belvideres, once towers guarding the
eastern entrance. The body is occupied by the palaver-hall of the _opper
koopman_ (chief factor), now converted into a court-house and a small
armoury of sniders. It leads to the bedrooms, disposed on three sides. The
materials are trap, quartz, probably gold-bearing, and fine bricks,
evidently home-made. The substantial quarters fronting the sea are breezy,
comfortable, and healthy; and the large cistern contains the only good
drinking-water in Axim. Life must be somewhat dull here, but, after all,
not so bad as in many an out-station of British India. The chief grievance
is that the inmates, the District-commissioner and his medico, are mere
birds of passage; they are ordered off and exchanged, at the will of
head-quarters, often before they can settle down, and always before they
learn to take interest in the place. The works consist of two bastions on
the land side; a large one to the south-east, and a smaller to the
north-east. Seawards projects a rounded cavalier, fronted by dead ground,
or rather water. In the days of the Dutch the platforms carried '22 iron
guns, besides some patteraroes.' Now there are two old bronze guns, two
'chambeis' bearing the mark 'La Hague,' and an ancient iron tube
dismounted: a seven-pounder mountain-gun, of a type now obsolete, lurks in
the shadows of the arched gateway. I afterwards had an opportunity of
seeing the ammunition, and was much struck by a tub of black mud, which
they told me was gunpowder. The Ashantis at least keep theirs dry.
The dispensary appeared equally well found. For some weeks there was a
native assistant; then Dr. Roulston came, and, after a few days, was
ordered off at a moment's notice to the remotest possible station. He had
no laudanum, no Dover's powders, no chlorodyne, no Warburg; and, when
treating M. Dahse for a burst vein, he was compelled to borrow styptics
from our store. This style of economy is very expensive. To state the case
simply, officials last one year instead of two.
The late Captain P. D. O'Brien, District-commissioner of Axim, did the
honours, showing us the only 'antiquity' in the place, the tomb of a Dutch
governor, with a rudely cut inscription set in the eastern wall:--
COMAD. OP AXEM
Amongst the slave-garrison of twenty-five Hausas I found a Wadai-man,
Sergeant Abba Osman, who had not quite forgotten his Arabic. Several
Moslems also appeared about the town, showing that the flood of El-Islam
is fast setting this way. They might profitably be hired as an armed
escort into the pagan interior.
Axim, preferably written by the Portuguese 'Axem,' was by them pronounced
Ashim or Ashem: no stress, therefore, must be laid upon its
paper-resemblance with Abyssinian Axum. [Footnote: I allude to _The Guinea
or Gold Coast of Africa, formerly a Colony of the Axumites_ (London,
Pottle and Son, 1880), an interesting pamphlet kindly forwarded to me by
the author, Captain George Peacock. I believe, as he does, that the West
Coast of Africa preserves traces of an ancient connection with the Nile
valley and the eastern regions; but this is not one of them.] Barbot calls
it 'Axim, or Atzyn, or Achen.' The native name is Essim, which, in the
language of the Mfantse or Mfantse-fo (Fanti-race), means 'you told me,'
and in the Apollonian dialect 'you know me.' These fanciful terms are
common, and they allude to some tale or legend which is forgotten in
course of time. The date of its building is utterly unknown. The Fanti
tradition is that their race was driven coastwards, like their kinsmen the
Ashantis, [Footnote: In _Wanderings in West Africa_, (ii. 98) I have given
the popular derivation of Fanti (Fan-didi = herb-eater) and Asyanti
(San-didi = corn-eater). Bowdich wrote 'Ashanti' because he learnt the
word from the Accra-men.] by tribes pressing down upon them from the
north. They must have found the maritime lands occupied, but they have
preserved no notices of their predecessors. The port-town became the
capital of an upper factor, who ruled the whole coast as far as Elmina. It
was almost depopulated, say the old authorities, by long wars with the
more powerful Apollonia; but its commanding position has always enabled it
to recover from the heaviest blows. It is still the threshold of the
western Gold-region, and the principal port of occidental Wasa (Wassaw).
We may fairly predict a future for Axim. The town is well situated to
catch the sea-breeze. The climate is equatorial, but exceptionally
healthy, save after the rainy season, which here opens a month or six
weeks earlier than on the leeward coast. The downfall must, however, have
diminished since the times when 'the _blacks_ will tell you the wet
weather lasts eleven months and twenty-nine days in the year.' The rains
now begin with April and end in September. The position is south of the
thermal equator (22º R. = 81 5º F.), which runs north lat. 6º on the
western coast, 15º in the interior, and 10º on the eastern seaboard.
[Footnote: Berghaus, following Humboldt, places the probable equator of
temperature (80º 16') in N. lat. 4º, or south of Axim, rising to N. lat.
13º in Central and in Eastern Africa] Add that the average daily
temperature is 75º-80º (F.), rising to 96º in the afternoon and falling
after midnight to 70º, and that the wet season on the seaboard is perhaps
the least sickly. We were there in January-March, during an unusually hot
and dry season, following the Harmatan and the Smokes and preceding the
tornadoes and the rains; yet I never felt an oppressive day,--nothing
worse than Alexandria or Trieste in early August. The mornings and
evenings were mostly misty; the moons were clear and the nights were
tolerable. An excessive damp, which mildews and decays
everything--clothes, books, metals, man--was the main discomfort. But we
were living, as it were, in the open, and we neglected morning and evening
fires. This will not be the case when solid and comfortable houses shall
be built. The improvement of lodging and diet accounts for the better
health of Anglo-Africans, as of Anglo-Indians, in the present day. Our
predecessors during the early nineteenth century died of bad shelter, bad
food, and bad drink.
The town, built upon a flat partly formed by cutting away the mounds and
hillocks of red clay, was well laid out by Mr. Sam, the
District-commissioner, after its bombardment during the Ashanti war. The
main streets, or rather roads, running north-south, are avenued with
shady Ganian or umbrella figs. I should prefer the bread-tree, which here
flourishes. These thoroughfares are kept clean enough, and nuisances are
punished, as in England. Cross lines, however, are wanted; the crooked
passages between the huts do not admit the sea-breeze. Native hovels,
also, should be removed from the foreshore, which, as Admiralty property,
ought to be kept for public purposes. The native dwellings are composed of
split bamboo-fronds (_Raphia vinifera_), thatched with the foliage of the
same tree. They are mere baskets--airy, and perhaps too airy. Some are
defended against wind and wet by facings of red swish; a few, like that of
the 'king' and chief native traders, are built of adobes (sun-dried
bricks), whitewashed outside. Of this kind, too, are the stores and the
mining establishments; the 'Akankon House,' near the landing-place; the
'Gold Coast House,' in the interior; the Methodist chapel, a barn-shaped
affair; the Effuenta House to the north, and the Takwa, or French House,
to the south.
'Sanitation,' however, is loudly called for; and if cholera come here it
will do damage. The southern part of the narrow ledge bearing the town,
and including the French establishment, is poisoned by a fetid, stagnant
pool, full of sirens, shrimps, and anthropophagous crabs, which after
heavy rains cuts a way through its sand-bar to the sea. This _marigot_ is
the 'little shallow river Axim,' the Achombene of Barbot, which the people
call Awaminisu ('Ghost's or Deadman's Water'). To the north also there are
two foul nullahs, the Eswa and the Besaon, which make the neighbourhood
pestilential. In days to come the latter will be restored to its old
course east of the town and thrown into the Awaminisu, whose mouth will be
kept open throughout the year. The eastern suburbs, so to call them, want
clearing of offal and all manner of impurities. Beyond the original valley
of the Besaon the ground rises and bears the wall of trees seen from the
offing. There is, therefore, plenty of building-room, and long heads have
bought up all the land in that direction. Mr. Macarthy, of the School of
Mines, owns many concessions in this part of the country.
All the evils here noted can easily be remedied. As in the Cairo of
Mohammed Ali's day, every house-holder should be made responsible for the
cleanliness of his surroundings. The Castle-prison, too, rarely lodges
fewer than a dozen convicts. These men should be taken away from
'shot-drill' and other absurdities of the tread-mill type, which diversify
pleasant, friar-like lives of eating and drinking, smoking, sleeping, and
chatting with one another. Unfortunately, humanitarianism does not allow
the lash without reference to head-quarters. Labour must therefore be
light; still it would suffice to dig up the boulders from the main
thoroughfares, to clean the suburbs, and to open the mouths of the fetid
and poisonous lagoons.
Mr. William M. Grant, the clever and active agent of our friend Mr. James
Irvine, came on board to receive us, and housed us and our innumerable
belongings in his little bungalow facing 'Water Street.' We found life at
Axim pleasant enough. Even in these days of comparative barbarism, or at
best of incipient civilisation, the station is not wholly desert. The
agents of the several firms are hospitable in the extreme. Generally also
a manager of the inner mines, or a new comer, enlarges the small circle.
There is a flavour of England in 'A. B. and Co., licensed dealers in wine
and spirits, wholesale and retail,' inscribed upon boards over the
merchants' doors; also in the lawn-tennis, which I have seen played in a
space called by courtesy a square: Cameron, by-the-bye, has hired it,
despite some vexatious local opposition, and it will be a fine _locale_
for the Axim Hotel now being opened. Sunday is known as a twenty-four
hours of general idleness and revelry: your African Christian is
meticulous upon the subject of 'Sabbath;' he will do as little work as
possible for six days, and scrupulously repose upon the seventh. Whether
he 'keeps it holy' is quite another matter, into which I do not care to
enquire. Service- and school-hours are announced by a manner of
peripatetic belfry--a negroling walking about with a cracked muffin-bell.
From the chapel, which adjoins some wattled huts, the parsonage, surges at
times a prodigious volume of sound, the holloaing of hymns and the
bellowing of anthems; and, between whiles, the sable congregation, ranged
on benches and gazing out of the windows, 'catches it 'ot and strong' from
the dark-faced Wesleyan missionary-schoolmaster.
We were never wearied of the 'humours' of native Axim. The people are not
Fantis, but Apollonians, somewhat differing in speech with the Oji; both
languages, however, are mutually intelligible. [Footnote: Oji is also
written Otschi, Tschi, Chwee, Twi, Tswi, Otyi, Tyi, or whatever German
ingenuity can suggest. I can hardly explain why the late Keith Johnston
(Africa) calls the linguistic family 'Ewe' (Ewhe, or properly Whegbe),
after a small section of the country, Dahome, Whydah, &c. He was probably
led to it by the publications of the Bale and other German missions.] The
men are the usual curious compound of credulity and distrust, hope and
fatalism, energy and inaction, which make the negro so like the Irish
character. But we must not expect too much from the denizens of African
seaports, mostly fishermen who will act hammock-bearers, a race especially
fond of Bacchus and worshippers of the 'devil Venus.' Perhaps a little too
much license is allowed to them in the matter of noisy and drunken 'native
customs,' palavers, and pow-wows. They rarely go about armed; if you see a
gun you know that the bearer is a huntsman. They are easily commanded,
and, despite their sympathies with Ashanti-land, they are not likely to
play tricks since their town was bombarded. In the villages they are civil
enough, baring the shoulders, like taking off the hat, when they meet
their rulers. Theirs, also, is the great virtue of cleanliness; even when
the mornings are coldest you see them bathing on the beach. They are never
pinched for food, and they have high ideas of diet. 'He lib all same
Prince; he chop cow and sheep ebery day, and fowl and duck he be all same
vegeta'l.' They have poultry in quantities, especially capons, sheep with
negro faces like the Persian, dwarf milch-goats of sturdy build, dark and
dingy pigs, and cattle whose peculiarity it is to be either black or
piebald. The latter are neat animals like the smallest Alderneys, with
short horns, and backs flat as tables. There are almost as many bulls as
there are cows, and they herd together without fighting. Being looked upon
as capital, and an honour to the owner, they are never killed; and,
although the udders of cows and goats are bursting with milk, they are
The women differ very little from their sisters of the Eastern Gold Coast.
You never see beauty beyond the _beaute du diable_ and the naive and
piquant plainness which one admires in a pug-pup. The forms are
unsupported, and the figure falls away at the hips. They retain the savage
fashion of coiffure shown in Cameron's 'Across Africa,' training their
wool to bunches, tufts, and horns. The latter is the favourite; the
pigtails, which stand stiff upright, and are whipped round like pricks of
tobacco, may number half a dozen: one, however, is the common style, and
the size is said to be determined by a delicate consideration. Opposed to
this is the highly civilised _atufu_, 'kankey,' or bussle, whose origin is
disputed. Some say that it prevents the long cloth clinging to the lower
limbs, others that it comes from a modest wish to conceal the forms; some
make it a jockey-saddle for the baby, others a mere exaggeration of
personal development, an attempt to make Aphrodite a Callipyge. I hold
that it arose, in the mysterious hands of 'Fashion,' from the knot which
secures the body-cloth, and which men wear in front or by the side.
Usually this bussle is a mere bundle of cloth; on dress occasions it is a
pad or cushion. I had some trouble to buy the specimen, which Cameron
exhibited in London.
Men and women are vastly given to 'chaffing' and to nicknaming. Every
child, even in the royal houses, takes a first name after the week-day
Adwo (Monday-born) ... Kajo (Cuddjo) ... Adwoa.
Bena (Tuesday-born) ... Kwabina ... Abiena.
Wuku (Wednesday-born) ... Kwako ... Akudea.
Tan (Thursday-born) ... Kwao ... Ya (Yawa).
Afio (Friday-born) ... Kofi (Coffee) ... Afua.
Amu (Saturday-born) ... Kwamina ... Amma.
Ayisi (Sunday-born) ... Kwasi ... Akosua (Akwasiba).
Monday is the first day of the Oji week. The Sunday-born is corrupted to
'Quashy,' well known in the United States; hence also the 'bitter cup' of
_guassia_-wood. The names of the days are taken from the seven Powers
which rule them. Kwa-Si would be Kwa (=_akoa_, man, slave), and Ayisi (a
man) belonging to Ayisi. Amongst the Accra people the first-born are
called Tete (masc.) and Dede (fem.), the second Tete and Koko, and the
rest take the names of the numerals. So we have Septimus, Decimus, &c.] of
its birth, and strangers after that on which they land. Cameron, who
shaved his hair, was entitled 'Kwabina Echipu'--Tuesday Baldhead. I became
Sasa Kwesi (Fetish Sunday), from a fancied clerical appearance, Sasa being
probably connected with Sasabonsam, 'a huge earth-demon of human shape and
fiery hue.' He derives from _asase_ ('earth'), and _abonsam_, some evil
ghost who has obtained a permanent bad name. Missionaries translate the
latter word 'devil,' and make it signify an evil spirit living in the
upper regions, or our popular heaven, and reigning over Abonsamkru, the
last home of souls, or rather shades of the wicked. Thus _sasabonsam_
would be equivalent to _Erdgeist_, _Waldteufel_, or _Kobold_, no bad
nickname for a miner. The people have a wealth of legend, and some queer
tale attached to every wild beast and bird. In days to come this folk-lore
will be collected.
The gorbellied children are the pests of the settlement. At early dawn
they roar because they awake hungry and thirsty; they roar during the day
when washed with cold water, and in the evening they roar because they are
tired and sleepy. They are utterly spoiled. They fight like little
Britons; they punch their mothers at three years of age; and, when strong
enough, they 'square up' to their fathers.
The first mining business we had to transact was with Kwamina Blay, of
Attabo, Ahin (Ahene) or King of Amrehia, Western Apollonia. He came to
visit us in state on January 28. The vehicle, a long basket, big enough to
lodge a Falstaff, open like a coffin, and lined with red cloth to receive
the royal person and gold-hilted swords, was carried stretcher-fashion by
four sturdy knaves. King Blay is an excellent man, true and 'loyal to the
backbone;' but his Anglo-African garb was, to say the least, peculiar. A
tall cocked hat, with huge red and white plume, contrasted with the dwarf
pigtail bearing a Popo-bead, by way of fetish, at the occiput. His
body-dress was a sky-blue silk, his waist-cloth marigold-yellow, and he
held in hand the usual useless sword of honour, a Wilkinson presented to
him for his courage and conduct in 1873-1874. The Ashanti medal hung from
his neck by a plaited gold chain of native Trichinopoly-work, with a neat
sliding clasp of two cannons and an empty _asumamma_, or talisman-case.
The bracelets were of Popo-beads and thick gold-wire curiously twisted
into wreath-knots. Each finger bore a ring resembling a knuckle-duster,
three mushroom-like projections springing from each oval shield.
Ahin Blay dismounted with ceremony, and was as ceremoniously received. His
features are those of the Fanti, somewhat darker than usual, and his
expression is kindly and intelligent: though barely fifty-five his head is
frosty and his goatee is snowy. The visit was a state affair, a copy in
small of Ashanti and Dahome.
On the left, the place of honour, sat the 'King's father,' that is, eldest
uncle on the female side, evidently younger than his nephew: the language
makes scanty difference between the relationships, and here, as in other
parts of Africa, the ruler adopts a paternity. Six elders, _safahins_ and
_panins_, [Footnotes: The 'Opanyini' (plur. of 'Opanyin') are the
town-elders forming the council of the Ahin (king) or Caboceer, each with
his own especial charge. The Safahin (Safohine or Osafohene) is the
captain of war; the Ofotosanfo is the treasurer; the Okyame is spy and
speaker, alias 'King's Mouf;' and the Obofo is the messenger, envoy, or
ambassador. The system much resembles that of the village-republics in
Maratha-land.] sat down, in caps and billycocks; the other fifteen stood
up bareheaded, including the 'King's Stick,' called further south 'King's
Mouf.' This spokesman, like the 'Meu-'minister of Dahome, repeated to his
master our interpreter's words; and his long wand of office was capped
with a silver elephant--King Blay's 'totem,' equivalent to our heraldic
signs. So in Ashanti-land some _caboceers_ cap their huge umbrellas with
the _twidam_, or leopard, the _Etchwee_, or panther, of Bowdich, [Footnote:
_Mission_, &c., p. 230 (orig. fol.). The other two patriarchal families
which preside over the eight younger branches, making a total of twelve
tribes, are the Ekoana (_Quonna_), from _eko_ (a buffalo), and the Essona,
from _esso_ (a bush-cat).] and others are members of the _Intchwa_, or
dog-division. These emblems denote consanguineous descent, and the
brotherhood (_ntwa_) of the 'totems' is uniformly recognised. Our guest's
particular ambition is a large state-umbrella, capped with a silver
elephant carrying in trunk a sword. He presently received one sent, at my
request, by Mr. Irvine.
Amongst the elders were scattered small boys, relations of the headmen.
They were all eyes and ears, and in Fanti-land they are formally trained
to make the best of spies. When you see a lad lounging about or quietly
dozing within ear-shot you know at once his mission.
The notable parts of the suite were the swordbearers and the band. The
former carried five _afoa_, peculiar weapons, emblems of royalty. The
blades are licked when swearing; they are despatched with messengers as a
hint to enforce obedience; and they are held, after a fashion, to be holy.
I have never seen more conventional, distorted, and useless weapons. Three
blades showed the usual chopping-bill shape, pierced, like fish-slicers,
with round, semicircular, and angular holes. One, measuring twenty-three
inches and three-quarters, was leaf-formed, dotted with a lozenge-pattern
and set with copper studs. Another was partially saw-toothed. All were of
iron, rusty with the rust of years and hardly sharp enough to cut a pat of
butter. The impossible handles were worthy of the blades, bulging grips
between two huge balls utterly unfitted for handling; four were covered
with thin gold-plate in _repousse_ work, and one with silver. The metal
was sewn together with thin wire, and the joints had been hammered to hide
them. Cameron sketched them for my coming 'Book of the Sword;' and Ahin
Blay kept his promise by sending me a specimen of the weapon with two
divergent blades used to cut off noses and ears. Bowdich [Footnote:
_Mission_, &c., p. 312] mentions finely-worked double blades springing
parallel from a single handle; here nothing was known about them.
The band consisted of two horns and three drums. Of the latter one was
sheathed in leopard-skin and rubbed, not struck, with two curved sticks. A
second was hourglass-shaped; the sticks were bent to right angles, and the
drummer carried, by way of cymbal, a small round iron plate adjusted to
the fingers with little rings loosely set in the edge. The horns were
scrivelloes, elephant-tusks of small size. At times a horrid braying
denoted the royal titles, and after every blast the liege lord responded
mechanically, 'Kwamina Blay! atinasu marrah' (Monday Blay! here am I).
Interviews with African 'kings' consist mainly of compliments, 'dashes'
(presents or heave-offerings), and what is popularly called 'liquoring
up.' Gifts are a sign of affection; hence the proverb, 'If anyone loves
you he will beg of you.' Money, however, is considered pay; curiosities
are presents, and drink is 'dash.' The 'drinkitite' these men develope is
surprising; they swallow almost without interval beer and claret,
champagne and shandigaff, cognac, whisky, and _liqueurs_. Trade-gin,
[Footnote: This article is made at Hamburg by many houses; the best brand
is held to be that of Van Heyten, and the natives are particular about it.
The prime cost of a dozen-case, each bottle containing about a quart,
fitted with wooden divisions and packed with husks, chaff, or sawdust, is
3_s_. 6_d_.; in retail it is sold for 6_s_., or 6_d_. per bottle. Strange
to say, it has the flavour of good hollands. The latter, however, in small
bottles is always to be bought on the Gold Coast, and can be drunk with
safety.] being despised, is turned over to the followers. Before entering
upon this time-wasting process I persuaded the Ahin and _panins_ to sign
the document enabling me formally to take possession of the 'Izrah Mine.'
The paper was duly attested and witnessed; and the visit ended with a
royal 'progress' to the fort, where the District-commissioner did the rest
of the needful.
Next day the King made a friendly call without basket or band. His cocked
hat was exchanged for a chimney-pot so 'shocking bad' that no coster would
dare to don it. Such is the custom of the chiefs, and if you give them a
good tile it goes at once into store. He made us promise a return-visit
and set out to collect bearers.
Hereabouts a week is as a day. Whilst carriage was collecting we inspected
the neighbourhood of Axim. Our first visit was to Bobowusua island, a
'fetish place for palavers,' where the natives object to guns being fired.
Here it was that Admiral van Ruyter built his battery of twelve cannons
and forced Fort Santo Antonio to surrender on January 19, 1642. The rock
is of trap, greenstone, or whinstone, which miners call iron-stone and
Cornishmen 'blue elvan:' this diorite, composed of felspar and the hardest
hornblende, contains granular iron and pyrites like silver. Some specimens
are beautifully banded in onyx-fashion and revetted with 'spar' (quartz)
of many colours, dead-white and crystalline, red and yellow. We find the
same trap on the mainland. Near the smaller Akinim or Salt-pond village
there is a mass threaded with quartz-veins from north to south (1º 30'),
bossed by granite dykes [Footnote: It is generally believed that these
granite injections have been cooled and consolidated deep below earth's
surface.] trending east-west (96º 50'), and traversed by a burnt vein
striking 67º. From the surf-boat we remarked that there were no sharks;
apparently they shun coming within the reefs. Our landing was not pleasant
for the Krumen; the shallow bottom was strewed with rounded pebbles, and
the latter are studded with sharp limpets and corallines. We climbed round
the seaward bluff, fissured with deep narrow clefts, up which the
tide-waves race and roar. Here the trap has a ruddy hue, the salt water
bringing out the iron. Corallines, now several feet above water, clothed
the boulders. This, corroborated by a host of other phenomena, argues a
secular upheaval of the island, and we find the same on the mainland.
There were fragments of grey granite, but not _in situ_; all had been
washed from the continent, where it outlies all other formations.
Water-rolled bits of brickstone also appeared; and hence, probably, Dr.
Oscar Lenz [Footnote: _Geolog. Karte von West-Africa_. Gotha, Justus
Perthes, 1882.] makes Axim and the neighbourhood consist of _rother
Sandstein_ upon laterite.
Bobowusua is a cabinet of natural history. The northern flank is ever wet
with dew and spray; the southern shows a little dry earth and sand. The
latter in this and in other parts of the islet is a medley of comminuted
shells. We collected cowries of four kinds, large and small, crabs and
balani, lobsters and sea-urchins (_erinacei_) with short spines;
diminutive rock-oysters and a large variety with iridescent
mother-o'-pearl, pink, red and yellow. The latter yields a white
seed-pearl, and here, perhaps, we might attempt to develope it into
That great round glory of pellucid stuff,
A fish secreted round a grain of grit.
A single snake-slough and an eight-ribbed turtle were found. The short,
sandy neck of the eastern knob is a playground for 'parson-crows' and
scavengers (turkey-buzzards); hawks, kites, and fish-eagles, white and
black, while the adjacent reefs are frequented by gulls, terns, and small
Above the rock-line is a selvage of low vegetation--ipom[oe]a, white and
mauve-flowered; rushes and tangle-grass, a variety of salsolaceae, and the
cyperus, whose stalk is used like the _kalam_, or reed-pen, further east.
These growths are filmed with spiders' webs, whose central shafts lead to
their nests. The highest levels, only a few feet above water, are grown
with a dense bush that wants the matchet. Here are remains of plantations,
a little knot of bananas, a single tall cocoanut, many young palms, and a
few felled trunks overgrown with oysters. Europeans have proposed to build
bungalows on Bobowusua, where they find fresh sea-air, and a little
shooting among the red-breasted ring-doves, rails, and green pigeons
affecting the vegetation. It appears to us a good place for mooring hulks.
The steamers could then run alongside of them and discharge cargo for the
coming tramway, while surf-boats carrying two or three tons could load for
the Ancobra River.
The eastern or inner continuation of Bobowusua is Poke islet, a similar
but smaller block. During spring-tides they are linked together and to the
shore by reefs that stand up high and dry. Poke is the rock where,
according to Barbot, 'the negroes put their wives and children when they
go to war.' The tradition is that the Dutch mined it for silver. The metal
is known to exist in several places on and behind the coast, at Bosumato,
upon the Ancobra River south of 'Akankon,' and even at Kumasi. Besides,
gold has not yet been found here unalloyed with silver.
I was fortunate in collecting from this part of Africa stone-implements
before unknown to Europe. My lamented friend Winwood Reade, [Footnote:
_The Story of the Ashantee Campaign_ (pp. 2-4 and 314). London, Smith and
Elder, 1874.] one of those
Peculiar people whom death _has_ made dear,
was the first to bring them home from the eastern regions, Akwapim
(Aquapim), Prahsu, and the Volta River. Arrived at Axim, I nailed to the
walls of our sitting-room a rough print showing the faces and profiles of
worked stones. The result was a fair supply from the coast both up and
down till I had secured thirteen. [Footnote: I read a paper upon these
stone-implements (July 11, 1882) before the Anthropological Society at the
house of my friend, the President, General A. Pitt-Rivers; and made over
to him my small stock. It will find a home at Oxford, with the rest of his
noble anthropological collection, lately presented to the University.] All
were of the neolithic or ground type; the palaeolithic or chipped was
wholly absent, and so were weapons proper, arrowpiles and spear-points.
Mr. Carr, the able and intelligent agent of Messieurs Swanzy, brought me
sundry pieces and furnished me with the following notes. The 'belemnites'
are picked up at the stream-mouths after freshets; but the people, like
all others, call them 'lightning-stones' (_osraman-bo_) or _abonua_,
simply axe. They suppose the _ceraunius_ to fall with the bolt, to sink
deep in the earth, and to rise to the surface in process of time. The idea
is easily explained. All are comparatively modern, and consequently thinly
covered with earth's upper crust; this is easily washed away by heavy
rains; and, as thunder and lightning accompany the downfalls, the stones
are supposed to be the result.
The _osraman-bo_ are used in medicine; they 'cool the heart;' and water in
which they are steeped, when given to children, mitigates juvenile
complaints. One of my collections owes its black colour to having been
boiled in palm-oil by way of preserving its virtues; it resembles the
_basanos_ of Lydian Tmolus; but the Gold Coast touchstone is mostly a dark
jasper imported from Europe. The substance of the thunder-stone is the
greenstone-trap everywhere abundant, and taking with age a creamy patina
like the basalt of the Hauran. I heard, however, that at Abusi, beyond
Anamabo (Bird-rock), and other places further east worked stones of a
lightish slaty hue are common. About New Town and Assini these implements
become very plentiful. Mr. S. Cheetham informs me that the thinner
hatchets, somewhat finger-shaped, are copied in iron by the peoples of the
Benin River. These expert smiths buy poor European metal and, like other
West Africans, turn out a first-rate tool.
Axim seems to have been a great centre of stone-manufacture. Mr. Carr
showed us a dozen huge boulders of greenstone, chiefly at the eastern
angle of the wart that bears, in dangerous proximity to his stores, his
powder-magazine. The upper surfaces are scored and striped with
leaf-shaped grooves, formed like old Greek swords; some of them are three
feet long by three inches wide and three deep. I made a sketch of the
place; Cameron photographed it, and on return carried off a huge slice of
the block, which is now in the British Museum. We afterwards found these
striated stones on the sea-ward face of St. Anthony Fort, in northern
Axim, and on other parts of the seaboard.
Axim, the gate of this El Dorado, has not yet much reason to thank England
for ruling her. A mean economy annually hoards from 20,000_l_. to
30,000_l_, [Footnote: In 1878 the revenue was 105,091_l_. and the
expenditure 68,410_l_., and in other years the contrast was even greater.
The omniscient 'Whittaker' tells us that in 1879 the figures stood at
54,908_l_. income versus an outlay of 46,281_l_.; and there was no debt.]
forwarded to the colonial _caisse_, to be wasted upon 'little wars,' and
similar miseries, instead of being spent upon local improvements. The
unwholesome bush (the Dutch 'bosch') or wood, backed by the primaeval
forest, surges up to the very doors. The little plank-bridges are out of
repair, and the merchants will not supply the Government with new boards,
save for ready money; otherwise payment may be delayed for a year. The
highway to head-quarters, Cape Coast Castle, is a yellow thread streaking
the green, a hunter's path trodden in the jungle. For 16_s_. 6_d_. a
private messenger goes to and returns from the capital, a distance of
eighty-two miles, in four or five days. The public post starts on
Wednesdays, halts without reason between Fridays and Mondays at Sekondi
(Seecondee), and consumes a week in the down-march. I have already noted
the want of sanitation, the condition of the ammunition, and the absence
of medical stores. It moves one's sense of the absurd to compare the
desolate condition of the Goldland, which is to supply the money, with the
civilised machinery in England which is to work it, companies and
syndicates, shares, debentures, and what not.
I have treated the subject of Axim with a minuteness that is almost
'porochial;' its future importance must be my excuse. The next chapter
will show that we are truly in the Land of Gold, in an Old New California.
And now to conclude this unpleasant account with the good words of old
Barbot: 'Axim, in my opinion, is the most tempting of any on the coast of
_Guinea_, taking one thing with another. You have there a perpetual
greenness, which affords a comfortable shade against the scorching heat of
the sun, under the lofty palm and other trees, planted about the village,
with a sweet harmony of many birds of several sorts perching on them. The
walk on the low flat strand along the seaside is no less pleasant at
certain hours of the day; and from the platform of the fort is a most
delightful prospect of the ocean and the many rocks and small islands
GOLD ABOUT AXIM, ESPECIALLY AT THE APATIM OR BUJIA CONCESSION.
Any one who has eyes to see can assure himself that Axim is the threshold
of the Gold-region. It abounds in diorite, a rock usually associated with
the best paying lodes. After heavy showers the naked eye can note spangles
of the precious metal in the street-roads. You can pan it out of the
wall-swish. The little stream-beds, bone-dry throughout the hot season,
roll down, during the rains, a quantity of dark arenaceous matter, like
that of Taranaki, New Zealand, and the 'black sand' of Australia, which
collects near the sea in stripes and patches. The people believe that
without it gold never occurs; and, if they collect the common yellow sand,
it is to extract from it the darker material. If the stuff does not answer
the magnet, it is probably schorl (tourmaline), hornblende, or dark
quartz. Strangers have often mistaken this emery-like rock for tin, which
occurs abundantly in the northern region. It is simply titaniferous iron,
iserine, pleonaste, ilmenite [Footnote: Or peroxide of iron, with 8 to 23
per cent, of blue oxide of titanium.] and degraded itabirite, the iron and
quartz formation so called in the Brazil; and it is the same mineral which
I found so general throughout the gold and silver fields of neglected
Midian. It is found striating white sandstone about Takwa and other places
in the interior. The surface-stone is decomposed by the oxide of iron, and
thus the precious dust with its ingrained gold is dissolved and separated
from it. At a greater depth the itabirite will be found solid; and the
occurrence of these oldest crystalline formations in large layers is a
hopeful sign. When Colonel Bolton was interested in the Gold Coast
diggings I advised him to send for a few tons of this metal, and to test
it as 'pay-dirt.' A barrelful was forwarded from the coast to the Akankon
Company: it was probably thrown away without experiment.
At Axim, as at Cape Coast Castle and other parts of the shore, women may
be seen gold-gathering even on the sea-sands. They rarely wash more than
40 lbs., or a maximum of 50 lbs., per diem; and they strike work if they
do not make daily half a dollar (2_s_. 3_d_.) to two dollars. They have
nests of wooden platters for pans, the oldest and rudest of all mechanical
appliances. The largest, two feet in diameter, are used for rough work in
the usual way with a peculiar turn of the wrist. The smallest are stained
black inside, to show the colour of gold; and the finer washings are
carried home to be worked at leisure during the night. This is peculiarly
women's work, and some are well known to be better panners than others;
they refuse to use salt-water, because, they say, it will not draw out the
The whole land is impregnated with the precious metal. I find it richer in
sedimentary gold than California was in 1859. Immediately behind the main
square of Axim a bank of red clay leads eastward to a shallow depression,
the old valley of the Besaon, a swamp during the rains backed by rising
and forested ground to the east. On the inland versant a narrow native
shaft has been sunk for gold by Mr. Sam, now native agent under Mr.
Crocker. We pounded and panned the rock, which yielded about twopence per
2 lbs., or one ounce to the ton. Observing its strike, we concluded that
it must extend through Mr. Irvine's property. Throughout the Gold Coast
auriferous reefs ran north-south, with easting rather than westing; the
deviation varies from 5º west to 15º-22º east; and I have heard of, but
not seen, a strike of north-east (45º) to south-west. This confirms the
'meridional hypothesis' of Professor Sedgwick, who stated, 'As some of the
great physical agencies of the earth are meridional, these agencies may
probably, in a way we do not comprehend, have influenced the deposit of
metals on certain lines of bearing.' We may also observe that all the
great mineral chains of the old and new world are meridional rather than
longitudinal, striking from north-east to south-west. The geologist's
theory, combined with the knowledge that the noble metal is 'chiefly found
among palaeozoic rocks of a quartzose type,' is practically valuable on the
Gold Coast. Every mound or hillock of red clay contains one or more
quartz-reefs, generally outcropping, but sometimes buried in the subsoils.
They can always be struck by a cross-cut trending east-west. The dip is
exceedingly irregular: some lodes are almost vertical, and others
We now take the main road leading to the Ancobra. After crossing the fetid
Besaon by its ricketty bridge of planks, we find on the right hand, facing
Messieurs Swanzy's, a fine bit of rising ground, which I shall call, after
its proprietor, 'Mount Irvine.' Over the southern slope runs a cleared
highway, which presently becomes a 'bush-path;' it is named the 'Dudley
Road,' after an energetic District-commissioner. This is the first Takwa
line, whose length is described to be about fifty miles, or four days'
slow journey for laden porters. Mr. Gillett, who had covered twenty-six
(sixteen?) miles of it, describes the path as unbroken by swamps or
streams. Further north, according to the many native guides whom I
questioned, travellers pass two rivulets, and finally they are ferried
over the Abonsa, or Takwa River. The second road follows closely the left
bank of the Ancobra: it is used by the Hausa soldiers, but only in the
heart of the Dries, and it must be impassable during the Rains. Dr. J.
Africanus B. Horton, who contributes to a characteristic paper, [Footnote:
The _African Times_, January 2, 1882. The paper is full of inaccuracies;
it begins by placing Tomento (Tumento) ninety-five miles (for thirty)
along the river-course from the mouth, and he makes steam-launches 'take
from two to four days (say one) to go up to it.'] has never heard of the
former when he says 'from Axim to Taquah (Takwa) there is no direct
route,' and he justly deprecates the latter. But he cries up the Bushua or
Dixcove-Takwa line, upon which he has large concessions. I shall return to
this subject in a future chapter.
On the north side of Mount Irvine is a second nullah, the Eswa, which
flows, like the Besaon, through the dense growth of bush covering the
eastern uplands. A few minutes' walk along the right bank leads to a
broadening of the bed, a swamp during the Rains and a field of cereals in
the Dries. Thence we plunge into the jungle, and after a couple of hundred
yards come upon signs of mining. In the Eswa bed, where the gulch is
choked by two mounds or hillocks, appear the usual 'women's washings,'
shallow pits like the Brazilian _catas_, whence the pay-dirt has been
extracted. On the right bank, subtending the bed, their husbands have sunk
the usual chimney-hole to scratch quartz from the bounding-wall of the
reef. These rude beginnings of shafts reach a depth of 82 feet, and
perhaps more. All are round, like the circular hut of the African savage;
similarly in Australia the first pits were circular or oval. They are
descended in sweep-fashion by means of foot-holes, and they are just large
enough for a man to sit in and use his diminutive tool. The quartz is sent
up to grass by a basket, and carried to the hut. After a preliminary
roasting, the old custom of Egypt, it is broken into little bits and made
over to the women, who grind it down upon the cankey-stone which serves to
make the daily bread. In some parts of Africa this is men's work, and it
is always done at night, with much jollity and carousing.
I named this place the 'Axim Reef.' It had been taken by Dr. J. Ogilby
Ross, formerly district medical officer, Axim, and now preparing to
explore the regions behind the Ancobra sources. He allowed, however, his
prospecting term to elapse, and thus it has been secured by Mr. Grant for
Mr. J. Irvine. It taught us three valuable lessons.
1. Wherever _catas_, or 'women's washings,' are found, we can profitably
apply the hydraulic system of sluicing and fluming not by an upper
reservoir only, but also from below by a force-pump. Water is procurable
at all seasons by means of Norton's Abyssinian tubes, [Footnote: The
Egyptian campaigners seem to have thought of these valuable articles
somewhat late in the day. Yet two years ago I saw one working at
Alexandria.] and the brook-beds, dammed above and below, will form
perennial tanks. I am surprised that English miners on the Gold Coast have
not borrowed this valuable hint to wash from the people who have practised
it since time immemorial. Wherever we read, as on Mr. Wyatt's map,
'Gold-dust found in all these streams;' 'Natives dive for gold in the
dry,' and 'Old gold-shafts all along this track,' we should think of
2. The natives, here and elsewhere, prospect for and work the bank-reefs
after the subtending gutter-bed has proved auriferous. There is, however,
no connection between the two, and the precious metal in the subsoil is
either swept down by the floods or washed out of the sides, as we shall
see on the Ancobra River.
3. The negroes, who ignore pumps and steam-navvies, have neglected the
obvious measure of deep-digging in all the stream-beds, where much
detrital gold and even nuggets will assuredly be found. This should be
done either by shafting or by opening with 'steam-navvies' the whole
course of the channel during the 'Dries.'
Regaining the main road and passing towards the northern town, which is
separated from southern Axim by the fort and the grassy drill-ground, we
cast a look at a heap of rotting cases at last stored under a kind of
shed. Though labelled 'Akim' by the ungeographical manufacturer, they
contain a board-house, with glass windows and all complete, intended for
Axim, and eventually for the District-commissioner, Takwa. But, with a
futility worthy of the futile African, certain authorities at
Head-quarters, after buying and landing the proposed bungalow, which
probably cost 500_l_., discovered that they could not afford the expense
of sending it to its destination. Consequently it was made over to the
white ants, and it has now duly qualified for fuel.
At the end of the northern town a noble bombax notes the last
resting-place of Europeans; and on it hangs a tale deserving a place in
'Spiritualistic prints.' A certain M. Thiebaut, transport-manager to the
French Takwa-Company, died at Axim, and was here buried in July 1881. Many
persons, including Mr. Grant's mother and wife, declare that they saw
during broad daylight his 'spirit' standing over his grave. And no wonder
if he walked; a decent 'ghost' would feel unhappy in such a 'yard,' then a
receptacle for native impurities. We represented the case to Mr. Alexander
Allan, who succeeded poor Captain O'Brien, and that active and energetic
'new broom' at once took steps to abate the nuisance. The 'ghost' has not
been seen since its last home has been surrounded by a decent paling and
inscribed 'Ci-git Thiebaut.' The same pious service was then done for one
of our countrymen, Mr. Crawford who died at Axim in the same year.
Leaving on the left a neat bungalow, the 'Effuenta House,' we see to
seaward of it the wooded knoll Bosomato. [Footnote: Abosom, Obosom or
Bosom, vulg. Bossum, are imaginary beings, guardians and so forth,
worshipped by the people and called 'fetishes' by Europeans. The word
'fetish' is properly applied only to charms, philters, amulets, and all
that genus. See p. 78, _Wit and Wisdom from West Africa_, London,
Tinsleys, 1865.] Here a thatched hut shows where the late M. Bonnat
proposed to build a trading establishment, and to disembark his goods
despite rock and reef. A few yards further the road is crossed by the
Breviya ('where life ends'), another foul lagoon-stream, haunted by sirens
and crossed by a corduroy-bridge. It leads to a village of the same name,
which the Anglo-African calls 'Stink-fish Town,' [Footnote: As usual it is
a translation; the natives call the preserve 'bomom,' from 'bon,' to
stink.] alluding tersely and picturesquely to its sun-dried produce.
From this knot of huts and hovels we turn sharp to the east, or inland,
and presently enter the Apatim or Bujia concession, which has been leased
for mining purposes to Mr. Irvine. There is a shorter road further north,
but it is barred, we were assured, by a bad swamp. Our path, fairly open,
ran up and down a succession of round-topped, abrupt-flanked hills, thrown
together without system, and showing no signs of a plateau. They are
parted by creek-valleys, gulches, and gullies, thick with tangled
vegetation and varying in depth from a few feet to two and even three
hundred. Many of them carry water even in the driest season. The country
is remarkably like that behind Cape Coast Castle, where the Home
Government, during the last Ashanti war (1873-74), proposed to lay down a
The land is not heavily timbered, but there is wood sufficient for
everyday purposes. Its chief growth is the spiny bombax, whose timber is
hardly durable enough for permanent shafting. Here, however, and in all
the mines upon and near the seaboard, carpenter-work should be imported
from England; it will be at once cheaper and better. The country is
everywhere seamed with reefs and ridges of naked quartz, beginning near
the coast and striking in the right direction. There must be many more
underground, and all will be bared by 'washing' the country. Mr. R. B. N.
Walker, whose energy and enterprise obtained this, as well as other
concessions, tells me that during a second visit one of his company
'picked up two or three small pieces of quartz showing "free gold" among
the refuse around the native pits.'
We progressed slowly enough, as we delayed to botanise, to net
butterflies, [Footnote: Our large collection all came to grief, because we
had neglected to carry camphor. The hint may be useful to those who follow
us.] and to shoot for specimens. The path crossed and recrossed the Impima
rivulet, which in parts was dammed and double-dammed; its bed of
quartz-gravel and red ironstone again suggested deep digging. After a two
hours' stroll we traversed the snaking course by a rude bridge, and
presently came to the half-way plantation, Impatasi: it is faced by a
dwarf clearing, and we noted a fine clump of bamboo-cane. The next village
was Edu-Kru, marked upon the maps 'Edu.' We then passed over the dry bed
of the Bujia wady, which looked as 'fit' as the Impima; and, at about
twenty-five yards north of the bed we breasted the rough ascent of the
Here we turned to the right and found Mr. Grant's trial-shaft. It had been
sunk amongst a number of round holes dug by the native miner, and it
appeared to us that they had been working the southern butt-end of the
eastern reef. He had preferred it to another pit sunk a little distance
from the centre by a man named Jones, whose venture yielded the poorest
results. Cameron drew my attention to the necessity of 'hydraulicking'
this hill-side; and from three pounds of its yellow clay, gathered at
random, we washed about fourpence worth of gold-dust, upwards of 8_l_. a
ton. Other specimens assayed 1 oz. 13 dwts. and 13 grains. The quartz at a
little lower than a fathom had yielded poorly, [Footnote: Messieurs
Johnson and Matthey found only 0.650 oz. gold and 0.225 silver.] but
better results were expected from a deeper horizon.
A few minutes of uphill-walk led us to the little Apatim village, our
objective. We had spent three hours and a half over a distance which would
be easily covered in two. The march may be about two and a half miles
(direct geographical) from Axim, and five along the native path. During
the night my companion took a good observation of Castor and Pollux, and
with the aid of his chronometer laid down the position of the Apatim
village at N. lat. 4º 55' and W. long. (G.) 2º 14' 2". Consequently the
nearest point from Central Axim is 2,200 yards, and 200 from the shore.
The north-western angle runs clean across the Ancobra River. [Footnote:
Mr. Walker wrote to me, 'I am inclined to believe that the concession will
be found to extend to the River Ankobra on the west and north-west sides.
But I do not feel certain that this would be of any material advantage,
the distance from Axim by land being so short, and the road between that
port and the property being capable of improvement, so as to render
transport a matter of small expense.'] The concession measures 4,000
square yards, the centre being an old native shaft a little north of the
Bujia bed. The quadrangle lies between N. lat. 4º 53' 56" and 4º 55' 56",
and W. long. (G.) 2º 12' 48" and 2º 14' 48". The lease costs 12_l_. per
annum, paid quarterly, and 120_l_. when the works shall open. Its lessor
had forbidden his fraudulent people to prospect or to mine, because, as
usual, they systematically robbed him of his royalty. This universal
practice has made the kings and chiefs throughout the country ready and
even anxious to sell mining-lands for small sums which will be paid
honestly and regularly. They are also fully alive to the prospective
advantages of European staffs settling amongst them. Like them we shall
find the systematic dishonesty and roguery of the natives a considerable
drawback; the fellows know good stone at sight and can easily secrete it.
The cure for this evil will be the importation of labour, especially of
At Apatim, the name of the district as well as the village, we were
civilly received by the chief, Kwabina Sensense. He is also lessor of the
unfortunate Akankon concession, and his right to sell or to let either of
them has been seriously disputed. This practice, again, may lead, unless
checked, to serious difficulties. When the local government shall have
established a regular department and a staff of Gold-commissioners, every
owner should be compelled legally to prove his title to the land. West
Africans know nothing of yards and fathoms; they have hardly any words to
express north or south. [Footnote: The four points are taken from the
buried body, the feet being to the east and the head lying west.]
Consequently they will sell, either wittingly or in their ignorance of
dimension and direction, the same ground, or parts of it, to two or three
purchasers. Indeed, they would like nothing better, and consequently
'jumpers' must be expected.
Sensense is a dark man, apparently on the wrong side of fifty. His grizzly
beard, grown comparatively long, his closely-trimmed mustachios, and his
head-cloth, worn like a turban, made me take him at first sight for a
Moslem. He has a cunning eye, which does not belie his reputation. His fad
is to take money and to do no work for it; he now wants us to pay for the
clearing of an uncleared path. The villagers fear him on account of
certain fetish-practices which, in plain English, mean poison; and he
keeps up their awe by everywhere displaying the outward signs of magic and
sorcery. A man with this gift can rise at night when all sleep; cast off
his body like a snake's slough; become a _loup-garou_; shoot flames from
eyes and ears, nose, mouth, and arm-pits; walk with his head on the ground
and kill man either by drinking his blood or by catching his _kra_
(_umbra_), which he boils and devours. Here the sign of 'fetish' is mostly
the _koro_, or pot full of rubbish. At Axim and Akankon we shall find our
chief a mighty bore, each visit being equivalent to a bottle of gin.
After a restful sleep in the cool and pleasant air of Apatim, we proceeded
to visit the valley east of the settlement, despite Sensense's warning
that the ground was 'fetish.' He had made the same objection to M. Bonnat,
his evident object being to keep the rich placer for private use or for
further sale. There are evil reports about the origin of the Frenchman's
fatal illness after disregarding this and similar warnings. The deep and
steep-banked depression runs north-south, and is apparently the head of
the Bujia stream. The vegetation, especially near the water, which flows
some 300 feet below the village, was exceedingly dense and tangled, except
where the ground had been cleared for bananas, maize, or ground-nuts. The
bottom, especially at the sharp corners, gave the idea of exceeding
richness; and there were many old works apparently deserted. The
'fetish-pot' stood everywhere, filled with oil, water, and palm-wine,
leaves, cowries, eggs, and all manner of filth. This stuff, stirred by the
_komfo_ diviner, answers questions and enables man to soothsay. It also
corresponds with the _obeah_ of the West Indies, the _ubio_ of the Efik
race, a charm put into the ground to hurt or kill. How hot the rich hole
was! What a perspiration and what a thirst came out of the climb!
In the evening we walked about half a mile to the south-west of the
village, and prospected the central shaft, whence the measurements were
made. Here it is sunk in a western reef, palpably running parallel with
the eastern, which we first inspected. And this visit gave us a fair idea
of the property. It consists of at least three ridges of clay running from
north to south, and each containing one or more meridional walls of
quartz. Some of the latter may turn out to be 'master lodes.'
I regret that this fine Apatim concession was not thrown into the market
before the so-called 'Izrah.' The distance from Axim to the mining-ground
is so small that provisions and machinery could be transported for a
trifle. The village lies 220 feet above sea-level; and a hillock in its
rear, perhaps 80 feet higher, commands a noble view, showing Axim Bay: it
could be used as a signal-station. The rise is a fine, healthy position
for the dwellings to be occupied by the European staff, and in such air
white men could work for years.
Moreover, the short distance from the shore offers peculiar advantages for
'hydraulicking.' Flumes and sluices could carry the golden subsoil to the
sea and discharge it into a series of tanks and cisterns, which would be
cradled for 'pay-dirt.' Finally, it will be easy to baffle the plundering
negro workman by sending all stone containing free gold to be worked in
England, where superior appliances extract more than enough to pay
transport-costs. Indeed, it is a question with me whether, despite great
expenses, reduction at home even of inland produce will not be found
preferable. [Footnote: Mr. C. H. Creswick, of the Gold Coast Mining
Company, kindly drew up for me the following table of expenses from
Abontiyakon (his diggings) to England, and the costs of reducing a ton of
_l s. d._
3 15 0 canoe-transport to the Abonsa River.
1 10 0 Abonsa to Axim by a boat of thirteen hands carrying five tons
0 3 6 landing at Axim and shipping on board steamer.
1 15 0 freight and landing charges at Liverpool.
0 15 0 carriage to reduction-works.
2 12 6 costs of reduction.
8 11 0 which practically would rise to 9_l_. or 10_l_.
For local reduction Mr. Creswick calculates the outlay at 2_l_. per ton,
including interest on prime cost of machinery, allowance for wear and
tear, and labour-pay.] This remark applies only to rich ore; the poorer
can be worked upon the spot.
We returned to Axim with the highest opinion of 'Apatim,' and I rejoiced
to hear that the mine will be opened without delay.
THE RETURN--VISIT TO KING BLAY; ATABO AND BEIN.
I spare my readers the slightest description of the troubles that attended
our departure from Axim on January 31. Briefly, we began loading at dawn
and the loads were not headed before 10 A.M.
The black caravan, or rather herd, was mustered by its guide and manager,
the energetic W. M. Grant. His _personnel_ consisted of seven Kruboys from
Cape Palmas and forty-three Axim carriers, who now demand eight and
sixpence for a trip which two years ago cost a dollar. They stray about
the country like goats, often straggling over four miles. As bearers they
are the worst I know, and the Gold Coast hammock is intended only for
beach-travelling. The men are never sized, and they scorn to keep step,
whilst the cross-pieces at either end of the pole rest upon the head and
are ever slipping off it. Hence the jolting, stumbling movement and the
sensation of feeling every play of the porters' muscles, which make the
march one long displeasure. Yet the alternative, walking, means fever for
a new comer. On return we cut long bamboos and palm-fronds and made the
Krumen practise carrying, Hindu-fashion, upon the shoulder.
The rest of the moving multitude was composed of the servantry and the
camp-followers. One _bouche inutile_ bore a flag, a second carried a gun,
and so forth, the only principle being to work as little as possible and
to plunder all things plunderable. There were exceptions. Joe (Kwasi
Bedeh) of Dixcove, Cameron's old servant, who boasts of being a pagan, and
who speaks English, French, and Dutch, a handy and intelligent young
fellow, who can cook, sew, carpenter, or lead a caravan--in fact, can
serve as factotum--and his accounts, marvellous to recount, are honestly
kept. I should want no better servant in these coast-countries and in
exploring the far interior. The cook, 'Mister Dawson,' of Axim, is a
sturdy senior of missionary presence: having been long employed in that
line, he wears a white tie on Sundays, and I shrewdly suspect him of
preaching. A hard worker, beginning early and ending late, he is an
excellent stuffer of birds and beasts, and the good condition of our
collection is owing entirely to him. His son, Kwasi Yau (Sunday Joe), is a
sharp 'boy' in the Anglo-Indian sense. The carpenter, our model idler, who
won't work and can't work, receives 3_l_. per mens., when $8 should be the
utmost; we cleared him out on return to Axim. Meanwhile he saunters about
under an umbrella, and is always missing when wanted for work.
Our companions and body-guards are Bianco and Nero, both bought by Cameron
at L'pool for a suspiciously trifling sum. The former is a small
smooth-haired terrier, who dearly loves to bark and bite, and who shows
evident signs of early training in the cab-line. A dog with all the
manners of a doggess, he eventually found a happy home in the fort, Axim.
The second, a bastard Newfoundland with a dash of the bloodhound, and just
emerging from puppyhood, soon told us the reason why he was sold for a
song. That animal was a born murderer; he could not sight a sheep, a goat,
or a bullock without the strongest desire to pull it down; therefore he
had been sold into slavery, African and old-English fashion, instead of
being hanged. He had fine qualities--obedience, fidelity, affection, a
grand voice, and a ferocious presence. All these good gifts, however, were
marred by an over-development of destructiveness. He survived his journeys
by passing many of his hours in the water, and he was at last 'dashed' to
Dr. Roulston, of Takwa.
We took once more the northern road to Brevia, or 'Stink-fish Town,' and
crossed its tongue of red clay bounded by the bed of the Anjueri stream.
Here again appeared a large block of greenstone deeply grooved by the
grinder. Thence we debouched upon the surf-lashed shore, tripped over by
the sandpiper and the curlew and roped by the bright-flowered convolvulus.
Streaks of the auriferous black sand became more frequent and promising as
We ran close to Akromasi, or One-tree Point, upon whose flat dorsum linger
the bush-grown ruins of a fort. It was named Elisa Cartago by its
founders, the Portuguese, who were everywhere haunted by memories of the
classics. Bowdich [Footnote: Folio, p. 271.] is eminently in error when he
places the remains 'at the extreme navigable point of the river,' and
opines that the work was built by Governor Ringhaven (Ruyghaver), buried
at Elmina in 1700. He was misinformed by Colonel Starrenberg, a Dutch
officer who canoed three days up the Bosom Prah River, a fact probably
unknown to Commodore Commerell. Bosman [Footnote: Letter I. 1737.] shows
'Elisa Cartago op den Berg Ancober,' crowning the head of Akromasi Point,
with a road leading up to the palisades which protect the trade-houses.
Lieutenant Jeekel, [Footnote: Map of the former Dutch possessions on the
Gold Coast (districts of Apollonia, Azim, Dixcove, Sekondi, Chama, and
El-Mina), by Lieut. C. A. Jeekel, Royal Dutch Navy. Lithographed at the
Topographical Depot of the War Office, Major C. W. Wilson, R.R., Director,
1873. It extends only from the Ebumesu to the Sweet River (Elmina) and up
the Ancobra valley; and it is best known for the seaboard.] an excellent
authority, also places it at the river-mouth. According to some it was
taken in early days by the French, who still hold it. Captain Ellis has
transferred to this site the story of Fort Eguira, an inland, or rather
up-stream, work, destroyed, as Dr. Reynhaut and others tell us, in an
'elendige manier' (a piteous way).
The gallant Mynheer commanding fought the natives till his men were shot
down, after using 'rock-gold' (nuggets) for bullets. He rolled sundry
powder-barrels under the palaver-hall, and stationed there a boy with a
match to be applied when he stamped on the floor. He then flung open the
gates, hung out a flag of trace, and invited the bloodthirsty savages, who
were bent on killing him by torture, to take the hoard of gold for which
the attack was made. When all crowded the great room he reproached them
with their greed of gain, gave the sign, and blew them and himself into
eternity. I am told by a good authority that the natives, whose memories
are tenacious on some points, will not show to strangers the ruins which
cost their forefathers so dear.
The last village on the sands is Kukakun, where the wreck of a schooner
saddens the scene. Within a few hundred yards of Akromasi we bent abruptly
eastward and exchanged the sands for the usual stiff soil of red clay. The
gut is formed by the point-bluff and a southern block, and the surface is
covered with dense second-growth--pandanus, the false sugar-cane, ferns
large and small, and the sloth-tree, the Brazilian _uba_ or Preguica, with
tall, thin white trunk and hanging palmated leaves. The African palm-birds
(orioles of the _Merulidae_ family), whose two colours, red (_ntiblii_) and
golden yellow (_enadsi_), apparently divide them into as many fighting
factions, give a touch, a bright colour to the dulness, and chatter over
their pensile homes, which strangers would mistake for cocoa-nuts.
Severely hustled and horribly shaken up, we ran down the little valley of
the Avin streamlet. It comes from afar, heading, they say, in Abasakasu, a
region where gold abounds. In three-quarters of an hour we had cleared the
four short miles which separate Axim from the Ancobra ferry. This is the
line of a future tramway, which will transport goods from the port to the
river; at present they must be shipped in bar-boats, which cost much and
carry little. The ground divides itself into three sections--the red clay
north of Axim; the sands, whose green-grown upper levels are fitted to
support iron-pot sleepers; and the Avin valley, which debouches upon the
left bank of the Ancobra. The first and the last divisions are safe for
creosoted wood. My friend Mr. Russell Shaw would, I doubt not, take the
contract for 4,000_l_., and a macadamised cart-road could be made for
This would be the beginning of a much-wanted change. At present the prices
of transport are appalling. The French mines pay from 2_l_. to 2_l_.
10_s_. per ton from England to Axim; from Axim to Takwa, forty miles by
river and thirty by land, costs them 600 francs (24_l_.) per ton.
Moreover, native hands are not always forthcoming.
The Ancobra River, the main artery and waterway of this region, must not
be written after the Jonesian or modern mode, 'Ankobra' and 'Ankober,' nor
with Bosman 'Rio Cobre' (River of Copper). It has evidently no connection
with Abyssinian Ankober. To the native name, 'Anku' or 'Manku,' the
Portuguese added Cobra, expressing its snaky course. Bowdich, followed by
many moderns, calls it Seenna, for Sanma or Sanuma, meaning 'unless a gale
(of wind).' The legend is that a savage and murderous old king of the
Apollonians, whose capital was Atabo, built a look-out upon a tall
cocoanut-tree, and declared that nothing but a storm could lay it low.
Sanma is still the name of the settlement on the right bank near the
We rested at Kumprasi, a few huts close to the _embouchure_ of the
iron-bedded Avin streamlet and backwater. The little zinc-roofed hut,
called by courtesy a store, belonging to Messieurs Swanzy, was closed.
Katubwe, the northern hill on the left bank, had been bought, together
with Akromasi Point and the Avin valley, by the late M. Bonnat, who
cleared it and began shafting it for gold in the usual routine way. During
the last six months it has been overgrown with dense vegetation. Mr.
Walker believes, not unreasonably, that this lode is connected with the
Apatim or Bujia reefs.
Ferrying across, we could note the wild features of the Ancobra's mouth.
The bar, which in smooth weather allows passage to a load of five tons,
not unfrequently breaks at an offing of four miles, and breaks obliquely.
The gape is garnished on either side by little black stumps of rocks, and
the general effect is very unpleasant. A fine school of sharks fattens on
the fish inside the bar. At this season the entrance narrows to a few
feet, the effect of a huge sandspit on the right lip, and carries only six
feet of water. During the rains it will rise eleven feet at Sanma, and at
Tumento twenty-four feet in a day, falling with the same dangerous
rapidity. We shall see more of the Ancobra, which here separates two
districts. Between it and Cape Threepoints the land is called Avalawe; and
the westward region, extending to Cape Apollonia, is named Amrehia, the
Amregia of Jeekel and Dahse, meaning, 'where people meet.'
We halted for breakfast at Sanma, where Messieurs Swanzy have another
storehouse, and where the French Company is building one for itself with
characteristic slowness. The settlement is ill-famed for the Chigo or
jigger (_Pulex penetrans_), unknown in my day upon the West African coast.
It has killed men by causing gangrenous sores. From 'Tabon,' [Footnote:
'Tabon' is evidently corrupted from the popular greeting ''Sta bom?' (Are
you well? How d'e do?)] the Brazil, it crept over to Sao Paulo de Loanda,
and thence it spread far and wide up and down coast, and deep into the
interior. This fact suggests that there may be truth in the theory which
makes the common flea of India an immigrant from Europe.
At 1 P.M. we resumed our way along the beach, under sunshine tempered by
the 'smokes.' These mists, however, are now clearing away for the
tornado-season, and 'insolation' will become more decided. We ran by
sundry little bush-villages: their names will be found in my companion's
careful route-survey. I shall notice only those which showed something
There is sameness in the prospect, which, however, does not wholly lack
interest. Soon after dawn the village urchins begin disporting themselves
among the breakers and billows upon broken bits of boat, while their
fathers throw the cast-net nearer shore. The brown-black pigs and piglets
root up the wet sand for shell-fish; and, higher up, the small piebald
cattle loiter in the sun or shade. From afar the negro-groups are not
unpicturesque in their bright red and brimstone yellow sheets, worn like
Roman togas. A nearer view displays bridgeless, patulous noses, suggesting
a figure of [Symbol: Figure-8 on its side.]; cheek-bones like molehills,
and lips splayed out in the manner of speaking-trumpets: often, indeed,
the face is a mere attachment to the devouring-apparatus. Throughout the
day sexes and ages keep apart. The nude boys perch upon stones or worn-out
canoes. Their elders affect the shade, men on one side of the village and
women on the other. All the settlements are backed by cocoa-trees in lines
and clumps. Those who view Africa biliously compare them with hearse-plumes;
I find in them a peculiar individuality and likeness to humankind. There
is the chubby babe, six feet high; the fast-growing 'hobbedehoy;' the
adult, bending away from you like a man, or, woman-like, inclining towards
you; there is the bald, shrunken senior; and, lastly, appears death, lean
and cold and dry.
Between sea and settlement stand the canoes, flat-bottomed and tip-tilted
like Turkish slippers; where the land is low and floods are high, each is
mounted upon four posts. Fronting and outside the village stands a
wall-less roof of flat matting, the palaver-house. The settlement is
surrounded by a palisade of fronds stripped from the bamboo-palm and
strengthened by posts; the latter put forth green shoots as soon as stuck
in the ground, and recall memories of Robinson Crusoe. The general
entrance has a threshold two to two and a half feet high. The tenements
are simple as birds' nests, primitive as the Highlander's mud-cabin and
shieling of wattle and heather. The outer walls are of bamboo-palm fronds,
the partitions are of bamboo-palm matting, and the roofs are of
bamboo-palm thatch. Each place has its _osafahin_, or headman, and each
headman has his guest-house, built of better material, swish or adobe.
The only approach to grandeur are the long surges and white combers of the
mournful and misty Atlantic. They roll like the waving prairie-land, curl
their huge heads, and dash down in a fury of foam. 'On the top of a billow
we ride,' with a witness. Here and there black dots peer through the surf,
and to touch them is death. This foul shore presents a formidable barrier
to landing: there absolutely is no safe place between Apollonia and the
Ancobra. European employes avoid tempting the breakers; they disembark and
re-embark for home, and that is all. Mr. Grant assures us that there is no
risk; Mr. Grillett, who has worked the coast since 1875, says the
contrary; no man knows it better or fears it more. Some places are worse
than others; for instance, Inenyapoli is exceptionally dangerous. The sea
is shallow, and ships, requiring eight fathoms, must, to be safe, anchor
four miles out. The coast-soundings in the Admiralty charts are positively
unsafe, and will remain so until revised. On the other hand, the reefs and
rocks of Axim Bay have wholly disappeared, with some exceptions seen off
Kikam and Esyama.
Looking inland we find the shore mostly subtended by a _marigot_, or
salt-water lagoon, a miniature of those regular rivers which made the
Slave Coast what it was. And along the sea we can detect its presence by
the trickling of little rills guttering and furrowing the sandy surface.
The formation of these characteristic African features, which either run
parallel with or are disposed at various angles to the coast, is
remarkably simple. There is no reason to assume with Lieutenant R. C. Hart
that they result from secular upheaval. [Footnote: Page 186, _Gold Coast
Blue Book_. London, 1881]. The 'powerful artillery with which the ocean
assails the bulwarks of the land' here heaps up a narrow strip of high
sand-bank; and the tails of the smaller streams are powerless to break
through it, except when swollen by the rains. They maintain their level by
receiving fresh water at the head and by percolation through the beach,
while most of them are connected with the sea.
We halted for rest at the Esyama village; its landmarks are the ronnier,
the glorious palmyra (_Borassus flabelliformis_), here called 'women's
cocoa-tree.' The village looked peculiarly neat with its straight, sandy
street-roads, a quarter of a mile long; and the tenements generally are
better than those of Axim. We noticed the usual feature, a long thatched
barn of yellow clay--school-cum-chapel. The people are fond of planting
before their doors the _felfa_, croton or physicnut (_Jatropha curcas_),
whose oil so long lighted Lisbon. It is a tree of many uses. Boys suck the
honey of the flower-stalk; and adults drink or otherwise use, as
corrective of bile, an infusion of the leaves and the under bark. They
could not give me the receipt for the valuable preparation of the green
apple, well known to the Fantis of Accra.
After returning to Axim we heard of rich diggings two hours' march inland,
or north with easting from Esyama. They are called 'Yirima,' or
'Choke-full'--that is, of gold. The site is occupied by King Blay's
family, and the place is described as containing three or four reefs which
have all been more or less worked by the natives. After we left the coast
Yirima was visited by Mr. Grant, who reported it as exceptionally
About sunset we hit the Ebumesu, or 'Winding Water.' The people declare
that it had a single mouth till the earthquakes of July 1862, which shook
down Accra, raised a divide, and made a double _embouchure_. The eastern
fork, known as the Pana, is the drain of a large and branchy lagoon,
brackish water, bitumen-coloured or brassy-yellow, with poisonous
vegetation, and bounded by mangroves abounding in tannin. These
water-forests grow differently from the red and white rhizophores of
Eastern Africa. We shall again be ferried over the upper part of the
western mouth. Both have bad bars, especially the latter. I therefore can
by no means agree with Mr. Walker's report:--'The western outlet of the
Ebumesu, near the village of Eku Enu, or Ekwanu, is quite practicable for
ordinary surf-boats during the dry season--say half the year--and even in
the middle of June I found the bar smooth and safe. Having for thirty
years worked some of the worst bars and beaches' (the Gaboon? or the
Sherbro?) 'along some hundreds of miles of the West Coast, I am able to
state that the Ebumesu bar might be safely utilised for landing goods and
machinery; but during the heavy surf of the rainy season goods could
always be disembarked at Axim, and, if necessary, carried along the beach
to the mouth of the Ebumesu, and thence by boat to the tramway from that
river to the mine.' This last statement is quite correct.
All the Aximites described the Ebumesu bars as practically impassable.
Cameron and I agreed that the only way of entering them is by running the
boat ashore, unloading her, and warping her round the point, as we shall
afterwards do at Prince's. But the best line to the Izrah concession has
not yet been discovered. I strongly impressed the necessity of careful
search upon Mr. A. A. Robertson, the traffic-manager of the Company. For
the present I hold the surf along shore and the Ebumesu bar to be equally
dangerous. The land-tongue between the two streams is the favourite haunt
of mosquitoes and sand-flies, and it produces nothing save mud and
mangroves, miasma and malaria. Yet here in 1873-74 loyal and stout-hearted
King Blay defended himself against the whole Apollonian coast, which
actively sympathised with the Ashantis. [Footnote: Captain Brackenbury,
vol. ii, p. 29, _The Ashanti War_, &c., gives an account of King Blay
fighting the Ashantis on the Ebumesu.] He was at last relieved by the
Wasas (Wassaws) coming to his side; and now he has little to fear. He can
put some 5,000 musketeers into the field; and, during the late Ashanti
scare, he offered to aid us with 7,000, if we could supply the extras with
arms and ammunition.
When the 'Queen of Shades' arose, and it became too dark to see the world,
we halted at the Sensyere village, and found good sleeping-quarters in the
guest-house of the headman, Bato. Fortunately we had brought mattresses.
The standing four-poster of the country offers only cross-planks covered
with the thinnest matting. As the ancient joke of many a lugubrious
African traveller says, it combines bed and board. Next morning, despite
the chilly damp and the 'old-woman-cannot-see,' as the Scotch mist is here
called, our men were ready within reasonable limits. After two hours'
hammock we found ourselves at Atabo, capital of eastern Apollonia, about
to pay our promised return-visit to good King Blay. It is useless to
describe the settlement, which in no way differs from those passed on the
path. The country-people related its origin as follows:--A Fanti man from
the country between Secondee (Sekondi), or Fort Orange, and Shamah
(Chamah), at the mouth of the Bosom Prah, when driven out by war, first
founded 'Kabeku,' near the present place of that name. His sons built
Bein, or Behin, [Footnote: The aspirate is hardly audible. Captain
Brackenbury, generally so careful, manages to confound Bein and Benin.]
meaning a 'strong man,' and Atabo, in Fanti _ataba_, the name of a tree
with a reddish-yellow fruit. The latter was paramount till late years,
when turbulent and unruly Bein was allowed to set up for herself an
independent king; and the sooner things return to the _status quo ante_
the better for peace.
King Blay's guest-house of whitewashed swish is a model of its kind. You
pass through a large compound, which contains the outhouses, into a broad,
deep verandah, generally facing away from the sea. It opens upon a central
room adorned with German prints of Scriptural subjects--Mariahilf, for
instance, all gaudy colour and gilt spangles. On each side of this piece
are sleeping-rooms. The furniture of the five is exceedingly simple--a
standing bedstead, a table, and a few wooden chairs. But Ahin Blay is a
civilised man who strews his floors with matting, and has osier
_fauteuils_ from Madeira. These quarters are quite wholesome and
comfortable enough for temporary use. They would be greatly improved by
mounting on pillars or piles; and they might serve for all seasons save
Mr. Graham, who dispenses elementary knowledge to the missionary pupils,
came to us at once, and kindly offered his aid as 'mouf.' These useful
men, who serve as go-betweens and interpreters, are called 'scholars' by
the people, and are charged with making profit out of whites and blacks.
In the afternoon Mr. Graham brought me two neolithic stone-implements. We
then set out for the 'palace,' a large congeries of houses and huts,
guided by a mighty braying of horns and beating of drums, and by Union
Jacks, with the most grotesque adjuncts of men and beasts, planted in the
clean and sandy street-road. King Blay received us in his palaver-hall,
and his costume now savoured not of Europe, but of 'fetish.' He had been
'making customs,' or worshipping after country-fashion, and would not keep
us waiting while he changed dress. The cap was a kind of tall hood,
adorned with circles of cowries and two horns of the little bush-antelope;
the robe was Moorish, long and large-sleeved, and both were charged with
rolls of red, white, and blue stuff, supposed to contain grigris, or
talismans. The Ashanti medal, however, was still there; indeed, he wore it
round his neck even on the march, when his toilette was reduced to a
waist-cloth and a billycock. After discussing palm-wine in preference to
trade-gin, we persuaded King Blay, despite all his opposition, that 'time
is gold,' and that with strange and indelicate haste we _must_ set out
early on the morrow for the Izrah mine. His main difficulty was about
clearing the path; he had issued strong orders upon the subject, but
African kings often command and no one cares to obey. The monarchy is
essentially limited, and the lieges allow no stretch of power, unless the
ruling arm be exceptionally long and strong.
Hearing that the gold-hilted official swords of the King of Bein were for
sale, and wishing to inspect the place, we set off at 3.30 P.M. to cover
the 4,769 yards measured along the sands by Mr. Graham. Reaching our
destination, eighteen miles distant from Axim, we were carried up the long
straight street-road which leads to the old English fort. It is the normal
building, a house on bastions, both well and solidly made of stone and
lime. Amongst the materials I found a fine yellow sandstone-grit and a
nummulite so weathered that the shells stood out in strong relief. Both
were new to us on this trap-coast, and no one could say where they were
quarried; many thought they must have come from Europe, others that they
are brought from inland. The masonry of the sea-front was pitted with
seven large wounds, dealt by as many shells when we broke down our own
work. Such was the consequence of sympathising with the Ashantis in 1873,
when Axim also was bombarded.
What changes these factory-forts have seen, beginning with the days of the
jolly old Hollanders, who, in doublets and trunk-hose, held high state,
commanding large garrisons and ruling the rulers of the land. What
banquets, what carousals, with _sopies_ of the best schiedam, and long
clay-pipes stuffed with the finest tobacco, when an exceptional haul of
gold-dust or captives had come to hand! But Time got the better of them;
the abolition of the export slave-trade cut the ground from under their
feet; diminished profits made economy necessary, and the forts were
allowed to become the shadows of their former selves. Then came the
cession to England, when all appeared running on the road to ruin. Now,
however, things are again changed, and 'Resurgam' may be written upon
these scenes of decay. The Mines will once more make the fortune of the
Gold Coast, and the old buildings will become useful as hospitals, and
store-houses, and barracoons for coolie emigrants.
The Bein fort has been repaired and whitewashed inside by the lessees,
Messieurs Swanzy, whose agent, Mr. Carr, we found here in possession.
Unlike Axim, it still preserves intact the outer work with its dwarf
belfry over the strong doorway. But the cistern in the middle of this
slave-court must make the cleanly old Netherlanders turn in their tombs.
Opposite the fort is the normal school-room, occasionally served by Mr.
Graham, of Atabo; Bein has a tide-waiter, but no pedagogue. Beyond it
rises the large and uneven swish-house of the 'King,' who has lately been
summonsed, as a defaulting debtor, to Cape Coast Castle: the single black
policeman who served the writ evidently looked upon us as his colleagues.
The people eyed us with no friendly glances; they were 'making custom' for
the ruler's return. The vague phrase denoted, in this case, a frantic
battering of drums, big and little; a squeaking of scrannel pipes; a
feminine 'break-down' of the most _effrenee_ description, and a general
libation to the Bacchus of Blackland. A debauched and drunken Ashanti, who
executed for our benefit a decapitation-dance, evidently wishing that we
had been its objects, thanked us ironically for a sixpence. We met some
difficulty in seeing the swords, which were _not_ to be sold. They were
the usual rusty and decayed fish-slicers; Cameron, however, was kind
enough to sketch them for me, and they will appear in my coming book.
Most of the adult males had travelled inland to the Takwa or French mines,
where the Apollonians bear the highest reputation. Whole gangs flock to
the diggings, bringing their own provisions and implements. Thus they have
begun working on tribute and contracting for piece-work. [Footnote: This
information was given to me by M. Plisson, traffic-manager to the
Company.] This is a favourable phase of the labour-question. At the same
time it is clear that the labourer can easily keep the richest specimens
for himself and palm off the worst stuff upon the stranger.
Here we are next door to the Ivory Coast, and elephants, they say, are
still to be found within two days north of Bein. The hunters cross a broad
stream (the Tando?) and a dry swamp; they then enter an uninhabited
forest; and, after a couple of marches, they reach the animals' haunts.
Small tusks are at times brought in, but no Europeans, so far as I know,
ever killed a tusker in these wilds. My informants heard that a route from
Bein leads to Gyaman, and that it may be travelled without difficulty.
The following note, by Mr. Edward L. McCarthy, describes an excursion from
Bein to the unvisited Essua-ti, made by him in August 1881:--
'Accompanied by Prince John Coffee, heir to King Blay, three other chiefs,
their servants, and my own party of Krumen, we left the town of Bein,
Apollonia, to go up to the village in the bush called Essua-ti. Half a
mile from the town we found canoes awaiting us, and in these we were poled
along for over half an hour over what in the dry season is a native path,
but now a narrow channel of water winding about in a dense jungle of
reeds. Here and there we came upon small hillocks covered with trees, in
which numerous monkeys sported about. Emerging from these reeds, one broad
sheet of water presented itself to the eye, encircled by a low shore
fringed with canes, bush, and palm-trees, and at its western extremity a
range of hills rose out of the background. The lagoon receives several
small streams, and empties itself into the sea by the Ebumesu river, its
mouth being about half-way between Bein and the Ancobra. According to the
natives the river used to be navigable to its mouth, but of late years has
become overgrown with reeds. A few years back they set to work to cut a
channel through them, but getting tired of the work gave it up. The length
of the lagoon appears to be about three to four miles, and about one to
one and a half in breadth. Its major axis runs parallel to the coastline,
or nearly due east and west. Twenty minutes' paddling brought us round the
point of a small headland, where we came in sight of a pretty lake-village
built upon piles, at some little distance from the shore, the whole
forming a most picturesque and animated scene. From house to house canoes
laden with people, plantains, &c., were passing to and fro; groups of
villagers, some standing, others sitting, upon the raised bamboo-platforms
outside their houses, were busy bartering fish for plantains, while the
children played around, apparently unconscious of any danger from falling
into the water. The settlement consisted of over forty houses, mostly of
bamboo, a few of "swish," forming one long irregular line, and three or
four standing away from the rest round a corner of land, after the Fanti
custom. These houses were built on a bamboo-platform supported by piles,
and raised above the water some three and a half feet. One half of the
platform is covered by the house; the other half, left free, is used to
fish from, for the children to play about on, and for receptions when
palavers are held.
'The distance from the shore varies with the overflow of the lake, at the
time of my visit about thirty to forty yards, though for miles beyond this
the ground was saturated with water, whose depth varied from three and a
half to nine feet. The piles are made of stout sticks; the mode of driving
them in is to lash two canoes abreast by means of two sticks or paddles,
placed transversely, leaving an open space of about two and a half feet
between them. Two men in each canoe, and facing each other, then
vigorously twist and churn about the pole, or rather stick, into the soft
bottom of the lagoon. Some fifteen of these poles are thus driven in and
firmly braced together by cross-pieces, upon which the platform is
constructed, and on this again the house is built.
'We stopped here to breakfast before ascending the Bousaha River; and,
while so doing, I counted at one time over forty natives sitting round us
on the platform. I was not without my fears that we should all be
precipitated into the water, but the structure, though in appearance frail
and very rude, was far stronger than what it looked.
'I closely questioned the natives as to why they had built their village
upon the lake, and they invariably gave as their reason that they chiefly
fished at night; and, as the water often overflowed, they would have to
build their houses too far away to be able to come and go during the
night; whereas "now," they said, "we are close to where we catch our fish,
and we often catch them even from our houses." Underneath each house were
tied from one to five, and sometimes more, canoes. These were much
lighter, more rounded off in the keel, stem, and stern, than the
'Three white men, they told me, had visited their village--Captain Dudley
in 1876, judging from the age of a child who was born at the time of his
visit; Captain Grant and Mr. Gillett, in 1878, I afterwards learnt, were
the other two. None of them went further into the interior.
'After breakfast we crossed the lagoon, passing on our way several canoes
fishing in the middle. The water was very clear and blue, and of
considerable depth, judging from a stone dropped in. Unfortunately I had
no other means of sounding. Not until a dozen yards from the shore were
any signs of a stream discernible. Pushing aside some reeds, we entered a
narrow lane of water, varying from three feet to eighteen feet in width,
deep, and, according to the natives, navigable for three days by canoes.
This stream is known by the name of Bousaha, and the lagoon by Ebumesu.
After two hours' hard paddling in a northerly direction we stopped to walk
to the village of Niba, a large place, principally engaged in raising food
for the coast fishing-villages and Bein, and also in elephant-hunting.
'Elephants at the time of my visit were reported in large numbers two
days' journey in the bush, and the villagers were then organising a party
for a hunt. Outside the village I came across the skull of a young
elephant, from which I extracted the teeth. The only report of a white man
having been here before was long ago, when, some of the old men told me,
he came from Assini direction, but turned back again. The village was
neatly laid out in streets and was beautifully clean.
'Another three hours' pull, still bearing northwards, brought us to the
village of Essuati, a smaller place than Niba, but very prettily laid out
with trees, surrounded by seats in its central street. The people here, as
at Niba, were mainly engaged in agriculture.
'Crowds came to see the "white man," many of the women and children never
having been to Axim, the nearest place where whites are to be found, and,
consequently, had never seen one before.
'After a few days' stay here I returned to the coast. While there I came
across a curious fish-trap, a description of which may not be
uninteresting. Across a stick planted in the river-bed a light piece of
bamboo was tied, and at its further extremity was suspended a string
carrying fish-hooks. Above these a broad piece of wood, suspended so as to
be half in and half out of the water, acted as a float and spindle. Above
this again were tied four large shells, so that when a fish is hooked the
shells begin to jingle, and the fishermen, hid in the bush, immediately
rush out and secure the fish.'
[Illustration of fish trap.]
THE IZRAH MINE--THE IKYOKO CONCESSION--THE RETURN TO AXIM.
The next day (February 2) showed me my objective, Izrah, after a voyage of
nearly three months. The caravan, now homeward-bound after a fashion, rose
early, and we hammocked in the cool and misty morning along shore to
Inyenapoli--the word means Greater Inyena, as opposed to Inyenachi, the
Less. In the house of Mr. J. Eskine I saw his tradesman bartering cloth
for gold-dust. The weighing apparatus is complicated and curious, and
complete sets of implements are rare; they consist of blowers, sifters,
spoons, native scales, weights of many kinds, and 'fetish gong-gongs,' or
dwarf double bells.
Gold-dust is the only coin of the realm; and travellers who would pass
north of the Protectorate must buy it on the coast. It is handier than one
would suppose; even a farthing can be paid in it by putting one or two
grains upon a knife-tip, and there is a name, _peseha_ (Port. _peso_?),
for a pennyworth. Larger values go by weight; the _aki_ (_ackie_),
[Footnote: The word _aki_ sounds much like the Arab _roukkah_ or
_roukkiyah_. Its weight, the 16th of an ounce, never varies; but the value
ranges from 4_s_. 6_d_. to 5_s_., according as the ounce is worth 3_l_.
12_s_. to 4_l_. 10_s_., the average being assumed at 4_l_. Other
The _toku_ (carat-seed) = 5_d_.
The _benna_ = 2 _akis_.
The _periquen_, _pereguen_, or _peredroano_ = 32 _akis_, or two ounces in
weight; and ranging in value from 9_l_. to 10_l_. (Bowdich, p. 283). The
word is Ashanti, little used by the Fantis.
For a list of these complicated gold weights, of which Mr. Grant has
promised me a set, see Appendix B, _ A Dictionary of the Asante and Fante
Language_, Rev. Christaller, Basel, 1881.] or sixteenth of an ounce, being
the unit of value. The people may be persuaded to take an English
sovereign, but they spurn a French napoleon. Amongst the many desiderata
of the Coast is a law making all our silver coins legal tenders. At
present the natives will scarcely take anything but threepenny-bits, new
and bright and bearing H.B.M.'s 'counterfeit presentment.' Copper has been
tried, but was made to fail by a clever District-commissioner, who refused
to take the metal in payment of Government dues. The old cowrie-currency,
of which the _tapo_, or score, represented two farthings, is all but
extinct. Its name will be preserved in the proverb, 'There is no market
wherein the dove with the pouting breast (the _cypraea_) has not traded.'
The same is the case with the oldest money, round and perforated
quartz-stones, which suggest the ring-coinage of ancient Egypt. From
Inyenapoli, preceded by King Blay, who so managed that a fair path had
been hastily cut through the bush, we struck inland, the course being
northwards, bending to the north-east and east. The first hour, covering
some three miles, lay partly over a flat plain of grass used for thatch,
pimpled with red anthills and broken by lines and patches of dense jungle.
These savannahs are common near the sea; we had already remarked one
behind Bein. They denote the 'false coast,' and they become during the wet
season almost impassable swamps and mud-fields.
Then we struck the valley of 'Ebumesu, winding water,' whose approach,
rank with mire and corded with roots, is the Great Dismal Swamp of Dahome
in miniature. Here, seven and a quarter miles from the mouth, the stream
measures about twenty yards broad, the _thalweg_ is deep and navigable,
and the water, bitumen-coloured with vegetable matter, tastes brackish.
There is the usual wasteful profusion of growth. Ferns ramp upon the
trees; Cameron counted at Akankon two dozen different species within a few
hundred yards. Orchids bunch the boughs and boles of dead forest-giants;
and llianas, the African 'tie-tie,' varying in growth from a packthread to
a cable, act as cordage to connect the growths.
There is evidently a shorter cut up the river, at whose lagoon-mouth craft
can be hired. Our ferryman with his single canoe wasted a good hour over
the work of a few minutes. We then remounted hammock and struck the 'true
coast,' a charming bit of country, gradually upsloping to the north and
east. The path passed through the plantation-villages, Benya and Arabo,
growing bananas and maize, cassava and groundnuts, peppers and papaws,
cocoas and bamboo-palms (_Raphia vinifera_). The latter not only build the
houses, they also yield wine of two kinds, both, however, inferior to the
produce of the oil-palm (_Elais guineensis_). The _adube_, drawn from the
cut spathe, which continues to yield for two or three months, is held to
be wholesome, diuretic, and laxative. The _insefu_ is produced in
mortice-like holes cut along the felled trunk; they fill freely for a
fortnight to three weeks, when fires must be lighted below to make the
juice run into the pots. It is sweeter and better flavoured than the
former, but it is accused of being unwholesome. The people drink palm-wine
at different hours of the day, according to taste. The beverage is mild as
milk in the morning; after noon it becomes heady, and rough as the sourest
cider. The useful palm bears a huge bolster-like roll of fruit, which
should be tried for oil: Cameron brought home a fine specimen for Kew.
Here the land is evidently most fertile, and will form good farms for the
Company. Leaving Arabo, we forded the double stream called the Bila, which
runs a few yards west of the concession. The banks are grown with rice,
showing how easily they will produce all the food necessary for the
labourers. The quality, moreover, is better, and the grain more nutritious
than the Chinese import. The bed of bright sand, supplying the sweetest
water, has in places been worked for gold by the women, but much remains
to be done.
In another hour, making a total of six miles from Inyenapoli, we reached
our destination, Arabokasu, or 'One Stone for Top.' We lodged our
belongings in the bamboo-house newly built by Mr. Grant, finding it
perfectly fit for temporary use. Before I left Axim Mr. C. C. Robertson
landed there, instructed by the Izrah Company to choose a fair site for a
frame-house mounted on piles. It was presently made in England, but
unfortunately not after the Lagos fashion, with the bed-rooms opening upon
a verandah seven to nine feet broad, and a double roof of wood with
air-space between, instead of thatch and corrugated iron. The house
measures 52 x 32 feet, and contains four bed-rooms, a dining-room, and the
manager's office. A comfortable tenement of the kind costs from 300_l_. to
500_l_., an exceptional article 700_l_.
We at once set out to cast a first glance upon the Izrah mine. The word is
properly Izia, a stone, also the name of the man who began gold-digging on
the spot. This style of nomenclature is quite 'country-fashion.'
Apparently Izia became Izrah to assume a 'Scriptural' sound; if so, why
not 'go the whole animal' and call it the Isaiah?
This fine concession is a rectangular parallelogram, whose dimensions are
2,000 yards long from north to south, by a breadth of half. The village
stands outside the south-western angle, and the Fia rivulet runs through
the south-eastern corner. The surface is rolling ground, with a rise and a
depression trending from south-west to north-east. The whole extent,
except where 'bush' lingers, is an old plantation of bananas, manioc, and
ground-nuts. There is an ample supply of good hard timber, but red
pitch-pine or creosoted teak from England would last much longer. Amongst
the trees are especially noted the copal, the gamboge, rich in sticky
juice, the _brovi_, said to be the hardest wood, and the _dum_, or African
mahogany (_Oldfieldia africana_), well known in Ceylon as excellent
material for boat-building. There was an abundance of the Calabar-bean
(_Physostigma venenosum_), once used for an ordeal-poison, and now applied
by surgery in ophthalmic and other complaints. The 'tie-tie,' as
Anglo-Africans call the rope-like creepers, was also plentiful; it may
prove valuable for cordage, and possibly for paper-making. I was pleased
to see the ease with which the heaped-up jungle-growth is burnt at this
season and the facility of road-making. Half a dozen Kru-boys with their
matchets can open, at the rate of some miles a day, a path fit to carry a
'sulky;' and the ground wants only metalling with the stone which lines
every stream. At the same time I hold that here, as in Mexico, we should
begin with railways and tramways. Nor will there be any difficulty in
keeping down the jungle. The soft and silky Bahama-grass has been brought
from Sa Leone to Axim, where it covers the open spaces, and it grows well
at Akankon. There is no trouble except to plant a few roots, which extend
themselves afar; and the carpet when thick allows, like the orange-tree,
The 'Izrah' concession is due to the energy and activity of Mr. R. B. N.
Walker, who has told its history. In March 1881, when he first visited it,
there had been a black 'rush;' the din and clamour of human voices were
audible from afar, and on reaching the mine he found some 300 natives hard
at work. I was told that the greatest number at one time was 2,000. The
account reminds us exactly of the human floods so famous in other parts of
the mining world. The men were sinking pits of unusual size along the
south-eastern slope of the hillock, where the great clearing now is. The
excitement was remarkable; and, negroes not being given to hard and
continuous labour without adequate inducement, the bustle and the uproar,
and the daily increasing numbers of miners flocking from considerable
distances, were evidence sufficient that there was an unusually good
'find.' Their pits, attaining a maximum of 12 feet square by 55 deep,
extended over some 150 yards from NN.E. to SS.W., with a breadth of about
20. From some of these holes rich quartz had been taken, one piece, the
size of a 32-pounder cannon-ball, yielding more than ten ounces of gold. A
shaft, however, soon caved in, for the usual reason: it had been
inadequately timbered and incautiously widened at the bottom to the shape
of a sodawater-bottle. All these works owed a royalty to Ahin Blay; but
his dues were irregularly paid, and consequently he preferred to them a
fixed rental of 100_l_. per annum.
The following anecdote will show how limited is the power of these
'kings.' He of Apollonia wished to sell this southern patch of ground,
worked by the natives, it being, in fact, the terminal tail of the Izrah
reef and the key of the property. But one Etie, head-man of Kikam, bluntly
refused. Presently this chieflet agreed to sell to Mr. Grant the whole
tract, a length of one thousand fathoms from north to south, the breadth
being left undetermined. But Etie was deep in Messieurs Swanzy's books,
and he wanted ready money. The tempter came in the shape of Mr. Dawson, a
native missionary whom I met a score of years ago at Agbome, and whose
name appears in all narratives of the last Ashanti war. Although an
employe of the Takwa or French mine, he bought for himself, paying
200_l_., the best part of the reef (100 fathoms), leaving the butt-end, of
inferior value, to Mr. Grant. This was a direct breach of contract, and
might be brought into the local law-courts. I advised, however, an
arrangement _a l'aimable_, and I still hope to see it carried out.
Life at Arabokasu was pleasant enough. The site, rising about 120 feet
above ocean-level, permits the 'Doctor,' alias the sea-breeze, to blow
freshly, and we distinctly heard the sough of the surf. Mornings and
evenings were exceedingly fine, and during the cool nights we found
blankets advisable. These 'small countries' (little villages) are
remarkably clean, and so are the villagers, who, unlike certain
white-skins, bathe at least once a day. At this season we had nothing to
complain of mosquitoes or sand-flies, nor was 'Insektenpulver' wanted
inside the house. The only physiological curiosity in the settlement was a
spotted boy, a regular piebald, like a circus-pony; even his head grew a
triangular patch of white hair. We wanted him for the London Aquarium, but
there were difficulties in the way. Amongst the Apollonians albinoes are
not uncommon; nor are the children put to death, as by the Ashantis. Both
races cut the boss from hunchbacks after decease, and 'make fetish' over
it to free the future family from similar distortion. Our villagers told
us strange tales of a magician near Assini who can decapitate a man and
restore him to life, and who lately had placed a dog's head on a boy's
body. Who can 'doubt the fact'? the boy was there!
I will now borrow freely from the diary kept during our five days'
inspection of the Izrah diggings. Cameron worked hard at a rough survey of
the ground which Mr. Walker had attempted with considerable success,
seeing that he carried only a pedometer and a small pocket-compass. My
proceedings were necessarily limited, as I had no authority to disburse
_February 3_.--The night had been somewhat noisy with the hyena-like
screams which startled our soldiers _en route_ to Kumasi. They are said to
proceed from a kind of hyrax (?) about the size of a rabbit; the Krumen
call it a 'bush-dog', and, as will appear, Cameron holds it to be a lemur.
The morning was cool, but not clear, and the country so far like the
'Garden of Eden' that there went up a mist from the earth and watered the
whole face of the ground. But the mist was a Scotch mist, which, in less
humid lands, might easily pass for fine rain; and the drip, drip, drip of
heavy dew-drops from the broad banana-leaves sounded like a sharp shower.
At this hour the birds are wide awake and hungry; a hundred unknown
songsters warble their native wood-notes wild. The bush resounds with the
shriek of the parrot and the cooing of the ringdove, which reminds me of
the Ku-ku-ku (Where, oh, where?) of Umar-i-Khayyam. Its rival is the
_tsil-fui-fui-fui_, or 'hair grown,' meaning that his locks are too long
and there is no one to cut or shave them. Upon the nearest tall tree,
making a spiteful noise to frighten away all specimens, sits the
'watch-bird,' or _apateplu_, so called from his cry; he is wary and
cunning, but we bagged two. The 'clock-bird,' supposed to toll every hour,
has a voice which unites the bark of a dog, the caw of a crow, and the
croak of a frog: he is rarely seen and even cleverer than 'hair grown.'
More familiar sounds are the _roucoulement_ of the pigeon and the tapping
of the woodpecker. The only fourfooted beast we saw was the small
bush-antelope with black robe, of which a specimen was brought home, and
the only accident was the stinging of a Kruboy by a spider more spiteful
than a scorpion.
Reaching the ground after a ten minutes' walk, we examined the principal
reef as carefully as we could. The strike is nearly north-south, the dip
easterly, and the thickness unknown. The trial-shaft, sunk by Mr. Walker
in the centre of the southern line, was of considerable size, eight by
twelve feet; and the depth measured thirty, of which four held water based
upon clay-mud. The original native shafts to the south are of two kinds,
the indigenous chimney-pit and the parallelogram-shaped well borrowed from
Europeans. The latter varied in dimensions from mere holes to oblongs six
by seven feet; and all the more important were roofed and thatched with
pent-houses of palm-leaf, to keep out the rain. The shaft-timbering, also
a loan from foreigners, consisted of perpendicular bamboo-fronds tied with
bush-rope to a frame of poles cut from small trees; they corresponded with
our sets and laths. There were rude ladders, but useful enough, two
bamboos connected by rungs of 'tie-tie.' The 'sollars' were shaky
platforms of branches, but there was no sign of a winch.
We set Krumen and porters to clear and lay out the southern boundary, and
to open a path leading direct to the beach. One would fancy that nothing
is easier than to cut bush in a straight line from pole to pole,
especially when these were marked by strips of red calico. Yet the moment
our backs were turned the wrong direction was taken. It pains one's heart
to see the shirking of work, the slipping away into the bush for a sleep,
and the roasting of maize and palm-nuts--'ground-pigs' fare,' they call
the latter--whenever an opportunity occurs. The dawdling walk and the
dragging of one leg after the other, with intervals to stand and scratch,
are a caution. Even the villagers appear incapable of protracted labour
unless it leads immediately to their benefit, and the future never claims
_February 4_.--After the south-eastern corner had been marked with a tall
cross, we opened a path from Arabokasu to the trial-shaft. We threw a
bridge of the felled trunks cumbering the clearing over the Fia rivulet,
and again examined its bed. Gold had been found in it by the women, and
this, as usual, gave rise to the discovery of its subtending reef. The
whole of the little river-valley extending to the sea should be bought and
worked; there is no doubt that it will turn out rich. In the channel we
found an outcrop of slates, both crumbling and compact; this is always a
welcome sign. To the east of the water there is a second quartz-reef,
running parallel with the upper ridge, and apparently untouched by the
The next two days were spent in finishing the southern line and in
planting a post at the south-western extremity. Here we found that our
workmen had gone entirely wrong, and we were forced to repeat the work. I
had exposed myself over-freely to the sun, and could do little for the
next week: fortunately my energetic companion was in better condition.
_February 7_.--Cameron took bearings from the south of the concession,
which he placed, with Mr. Walker, four geographical miles from the sea.
Other informants had exaggerated it to him, and M. Dahse writes six. After
1,000 to 1,200 yards he struck the 'false coast,' crossed a deep and fetid
swamp, and, after a short rise, came upon the miry borders of the Ebumesu.
He canoed 800 yards down-stream without difficulty; and, finding the water
brackish while the ebb-tide ran strong, he considered that this part was
rather a lagoon than a river. The people also assured us that it runs
along the coast, ending near and north of the Bein Fort-village.
In the evening my companion and Mr. Grant walked to the north-west of the
concession; the place is called by Mr. Walker Izia-bookah (Izia Hill), but
the natives ignore the term. Here, at a distance of 900 yards north and by
west (true) of the Arabokasu village, they found and collected specimens
of a fine reef of hard white quartz. 'Women's washings' were numerous,
showing the proper way to begin working the ground. The right of
prospecting the whole of the section to the N.E. had been secured by Mr.
Walker for Mr. Irvine, and presently the 'Apollonian concession' appeared
in the mining journals.
We had now done all we could; the circumstances of the case compelled us
to study the geology and topography of the property rather than its
geology and mineralogy. Nothing now remained save to _rebrousser chemin_.
Good King Blay, who had formally made over to me possession of the 'Izrah'
mine, left us for his own village, in order to cure an inflamed foot. He
attributed it to the 'fetish' of some unfriend; but it turned out to be
Guinea-worm, a malady from which many are suffering this season. We parted
upon the most friendly terms and arranged to meet again.
Both of us came to the conviction that the 'Izrah Concession' will pay,
and pay well. But instead of the routine shafting and tunnelling it must
be treated by hydraulicking and washing away the thirty feet of auriferous
soil, whose depth covers the reef. The bed of the Fia will supply the
water, and a force-pump, worked by men, or preferably by steam-power. Thus
we shall keep the mine dry: otherwise it will be constantly flooded.
Moreover, the land seems to be built for ditching and sluicing, and the
trenches will want only a plank-box with a metal grating at the head. I
can only hope that the operations will be conducted by an expert hand who
knows something of the Californian or the Australian diggings.
On February 8 we left Arabokasu, intending to march upon the 'Inyoko
Concession.' Our guide and people, however, seemed to change every five
minutes what they might call their 'minds,' and at last they settled to
try the worst, but to us the most interesting line. At 8 A.M. we struck
into the bush _via_ a heap of huts, the 'Matinga' village, at the
south-eastern corner of the fine mineral property. Here 'women's washings'
again appeared. At the Achyako settlement we crossed the two branches of
the Fia. One measures twenty feet wide and two feet six inches deep in the
dry season; it runs a knot an hour, and thus the supply is ample. About a
mile further on we were carried across the Gwabisa stream, four feet wide
by eighteen inches deep, running over a bed of quartz-pebbles. This ended
the 'true coast.'
The 'false coast' began close to the little settlement known as Ashankru.
It shows a fine quartz-reef, striking north fourteen degrees east. The
formation was shown by the normal savannah and jungle-strips. About noon
we were ferried over the eastern arm of the Ebumesu, known as the Papa. I
have noted scanty belief in the bar of the Ebumesu proper, the western
feature. The eastern entrance, however, perhaps can be used between the
end of December and March, and in calm weather would offer little
difficulty to the surfboats transhipping machinery from the steamers.
Beginning a little east of the Esyamo village, the Papa lagoon subtends
the coast. We shot over it in the evening, and at night found quarters at
the Ezrimenu village marked Ebu-mesu in old maps.
This return march of two hours or so had been a mere abomination. The
path, which had not been cleared, led through a tangle of foul and fetid
thicket, upon which the sun darted a sickly, malignant beam. Creepers and
llianas, some of which are spiny and poisonous, barred the thread of path,
which could not be used for hammocks. The several stream-beds, about to
prove so precious, run chocolate-tinted water over vegetable mire, rich,
when stirred, in sulphuretted hydrogen. The only bridges are fallen
trunks. Amongst the minor pests are the _nkran_, or 'driver,' the _ahoho_,
a highly-savoured red ant, and the _hahinni_, a large black formica
terribly graveolent; flies like the tzetze, centipedes, scorpions, and
venomous spiders, which make men 'writhe like cut worms.' There was a
weary uniformity in the closed view, and the sole breaks were an
occasional plantation or a few pauper huts, with auriferous swish, buried
in that eternal green.
God made the country and man made the town,
sang the silly sage, who evidently had never seen a region untouched by
the human hand. Finally, this 'Fia route' will probably become the main
line from Axim to the Izrah mine, and the face of the country will be
changed within a year.
As I was still weak Cameron and Mr. Grant early next morning (Feb. 9)
canoed over the 300 yards or so of the Papa lagoon bounding Ezrimenu
village on the landward side. They then struck nearly due north; and,
after walking three-quarters of an hour, perhaps two miles and a half,
over a good open path, easily convertible into a cart-road, they reached
the Inyoko Concession. It measures 2,400 yards square, beginning at the
central shaft, on the northern side of the hill which gives it a name; and
thus it lies only about eight miles westward of the Ancobra River. The
ground has not been much worked of late years, but formerly Kwako Akka,
the tyrant of Apollonia, 'rich in blood and ore,' who was deposed by the
British Colonial Government about 1850, and was imprisoned in Cape Coast
Castle, is said to have obtained from it much of his wealth.
They found the strike of the hill approximately north 22º east (true);
[Footnote: In laying down limits great attention must be paid to
variation. As a rule 19º 45' west has been assumed from the Admiralty
charts--good news for the London attorney. At Tumento this figure rises to
20º; upon the coast it must be changed to 19º 15' (W.), and in other
places to 16º 40'.] the dip appears to be easterly, and the natives have
worked the _Abbruch_ or _debris_ which have fallen from the reef-crest.
This wall may be a continuation of the Akankon formation; both are rich in
a highly crystalline quartz of livid blue, apparently the best colour
throughout the Gold Region. The surface-ground, of yellowish marl with
quartz-pebbles, is evidently auriferous, and below it lies a harder red
earth rusty with iron. From the southern boundary of the Inyoko
concession, and the village of that name, runs a strong outcrop of a
kindly white quartz, which, when occurring in conjunction with the blue,
usually denotes that both are richer than when a single colour is found.
Such at least is Cameron's experience.
Mr. Walker, who secured this concession also, notes that the native pits
were very shallow and superficial. He was pressed for time, and sunk his
trial-shaft but little more than three fathoms: here free gold was visible
in the blue quartz, which yielded upwards of one ounce per ton.
My companion found the shaft still open, and observed that the valley
contained many holes and washing-pits. One was pointed out to him by Mr.
Grant as having yielded twenty ounces of dust in one day: these reports
recall the glories of California and Australia in the olden time. The
little Etubu water, which runs 200 yards from the shaft, would easily form
a reservoir, supplying the means of washing throughout the year. Here,
then, are vast facilities for hydraulic work; millions of cubic feet can
be strained of thin gold at a minimum expenditure. There will be less
'dead work,' and 'getting' would be immediate. Thus, too, as in
California, the land will be prepared for habitation and agriculture, and
the conditions of climate will presently be changed for the better.
Early in the forenoon (Jan. 9) we hammocked to the Kikam village, and were
much disappointed. King Blay, too lame to leave his home, had sent his
interpreter to show us the Yirima or 'Choke-full' reef; and the man,
doubtless influenced by some intrigue, gave us wrong information. Moreover
the _safahin_ Etie, before mentioned, had gone, they said, to his lands at
Prince's: he was probably lurking in some adjacent hut. We breakfasted in
his house, but all the doors were bolted and locked, and his people would
hardly serve us with drinking water. We attempted in vain to buy the
_boma_, or fetish-drum, a venerable piece of furniture hung round with
human crania, of which only the roofs remained. King Blay, however,
eventually sent us home a _boma_, and it was duly exhibited in town. Kikam
was the only place in Apollonia where we met with churlish treatment; no
hospitality, however, could be expected when the strangers were supposed
to be mixed up in a native quarrel.
Unwilling to linger any longer in the uninviting and uninteresting spot,
we ordered our hammocks, set out at noon, and, following the line over
which we had travelled, reached Axim at 5 P.M.
We had no other reason to complain of our week's trip except its
inordinate expense. Apparently one must be the owner of a rich gold-mine
to live in and travel on the Gold Coast. We had already in a fortnight got
through the 50_l_. of silver sent from England; and this, too, without
including the expenses of bed and board.
We came home with the conviction that the Inyoko property should have been
the second proposed for exploitation, coming immediately after the Apatim.
Our reasons were the peculiar facilities of reaching it and the certainty
that, when work here begins, it will greatly facilitate communication with
'Izrah.' But progress is slow upon the Gold Coast, and our wishes may
still be realised.
I cannot better conclude this chapter than with an extract from Captain
Brackenbury's 'Narrative of the Ashanti War.' [Footnote: Blackwoods,
Edinburgh and London, 1874. Vol. ii. pp. 351, 352.] It will show how well
that experienced and intelligent officer foresaw in 1873 the future of the
'Are there no means of opening this country up to trade, no means of
infusing into it an element superior to that of the Fanti races, of
holding in check the savagery of the inland tribes, and preventing the
whole coast again becoming abandoned to fetishism and human sacrifices? To
the writer's mind there is but one method, and that one by an appeal to
man's most ignoble passion--the lust of gold. This country is not without
reason called the Gold Coast. Gold is there in profusion, and to be had
for the seeking. We have ourselves seen the women washing the sand at Cape
Coast and finding gold. When Captain Thompson visited the Wassaw (Wasa)
country, he found the roads impassable at night by reason of the gold-pits
upon them. Captain Butler describes western Akim as a country teeming with
gold. Captain Glover has said that in eastern Akim gold is plentiful as
potatoes in Ireland, and the paths were honeycombed with gold-pits. Dawson
has distinctly stated his opinion that the Fanti gold-mines are far more
valuable than those of Ashanti--that the only known Ashanti gold-mine of
great value is that of Manoso; whereas the Wassaw and the Nquamfossoo
mines, as well as the Akim mines, have rock-gold (nuggets) in profusion.
He says that the Ashantis get their gold from the Fantis in exchange for
slaves, whom they buy for two or three loads of coller- (kola-) nuts,
worth less than half an ounce of gold, and sell to the Fantis for as much
as two and a quarter ounces of gold. Let our Government prospect these
mines; let Acts be passed similar to those by which vast railway companies
are empowered to compel persons to sell their land at a fair price; let
our Government, by means of Houssa troops, guarantee protection to
companies formed to work the mines, and let the payment to the kings in
whose country they are be by royalties upon the gold obtained. The kings
would offer the utmost resistance to their mines being thus taken and
worked; but they have never worked them properly themselves, and they will
never work them properly; and it would be no injustice to allow others to
do so. If the true value of these services were ascertained by Government
mining engineers, if the Government would guarantee protection to those
engaged in working them, companies would soon be formed to reap the rich
harvest to be found upon the coast. Chinese coolies would be imported, who
would breed in with the natives and infuse some energy into the Fanti
races. Trade would soon follow, roads be made, and the whole country
opened up. The engagement of our Government should be a limited one, for
if once the gold-mines were at work there would be no further fear that
the country would ever fell back into the hands of the Ashantis.'
The counsel is good, but we have done better. Private companies have
undertaken the work, and have succeeded where the Government would fail.
So far from resisting, the 'kings' have been too glad to accept our
offers. And now the course is forwards, without costing the country a
farthing, and with a fair prospect of supplying to it a large proportion
of the precious metal still wanted.
NOTE.--Since these lines were written the _Yiri_ (full) _ma_ (quite) reef
has been leased by Mr. Grant, who sent home specimens showing, I am told,
14 oz. per ton. The fine property belongs to King Blay, who built a
village upon it and there stationed his brother to prevent 'jumping.' In
the spring of 1862 he wished to keep half the ground for his own use.
TO PRINCE'S RIVER AND BACK.
On February 15 we proceeded down coast to inspect the mining-lands of
Prince's River valley, east of Axim; and this time it was resolved to
travel by surf-boat, ignoring that lazy rogue the hammock-man. Yet even
here difficulties arose. Mast and sail were to be borrowed, and paddles
were to be hired at the rate of a shilling a day each. They are the life
of the fishing Aximites; yet they have not the energy to make them, and
must buy those made in Elmina.
The eastern coast, like that of Apollonia, is a succession of points and
bays, of cool-looking emerald jungle and of 'Afric's golden sands' reeking
with unkindly heat. Passing the long black tongue of Prepre, or Inkubun,
and the red projection, Ponta Terceira, we sighted the important Ajamera
village, so called from a tree whose young leaves show a tender
pinkish-red. On the Awazan Boppo Hill, about two miles from the
trial-shaft of his concession, Dr. Ross found a native 'Long Tom.' It was
a hollowed palm-trunk rotten with age, closed at one end and open at the
other, with a slant downwards; two forks supported it over a water-filled
hollow, measuring ten feet each way by three deep. Ajamera lies a little
west of the peninsula, _Africanice_ Madrektanah, a jutting mass of naked
granite glazed red by sea-water: on either side of the sandy neck, pinned
down, like Pirate's Bay, by cocoa-nuts, there is the safest landing-place.
And now we sight our port, distant some nine miles from Axim.
In front rises Prince's Hill, clad in undergrowth with a topping tuft of
tall figs. At its eastern base lies the townlet, showing more whitewash
than usual; and, nearer still, the narrow mouth of the fiery little Yenna,
Prince's or St. John's River. The view is backed by the tall and wooded
ridge of Cape Threepoints, the southernmost headland of the Gold Coast,
behind which is Dixcove. It is interesting to us because a syndicate has
been formed, and engineers are being sent out to survey the pathless
'bush' between the sea and Tumento on the Ancobra, whose site was at the
time unknown. Cameron presently discovered that the Takwa ridge is nearer
Axim than Dixcove is, and that the line would pass within easy distance of
Kinyanko, one of its _raisons d'etre_.
This wild plan has been supported by sundry concessionists whose interests
lie behind Dixcove and at Kinyanko. Dixcove of the crocodile-worship has
one of the worst bars on the coast. Canoes and surf-boats must run within
biscuit-throw of the Rock Kum-Brenni [Footnote: In the Oji or
Ashanti-Fanti tongue _bro_ or _bronni_ (the Ga 'blofo') means somebody or
something European. It is derived from _abro_ (_blo_), maize, introduced
by white men; others say that when the first strangers landed upon the
coast, the women, who were grinding, said, 'These men are white as
maize-meal.' 'Abrokirri' (Europe) is, however, explained by the Rev. Mr.
Riis as perhaps a corruption of Puto, Porto, Portugal.] ('White Man's
Death'), and the surf will often shut up the landing-place for four or
five successive days. The place will become important, but not in this
way. The Rev. Mr. Milum, in whose pleasant society I voyaged, showed me
his sketch of the station with an isolated red 'butte,' possibly an island
of old, rising close behind the houses and trending north-south.
Grain-gold was found in it by the native schoolmaster, who dug where he
saw a thin smoke or vapour hovering over the ground: throughout the Coast
this, like the presence of certain ferns, is held a sure sign that the
precious ore is present. Moreover, a small nugget appeared in the swish
being prepared for a house-wall. Thus 'washing' will be easy and
inexpensive, and the Wesleyan mission may secure funds for extending
itself into the non-maritime regions.
We turned the boat's head shorewards, and, after encountering the normal
three seas, ran her upon the beach near the right jaw of Prince's River.
The actual mouth is between natural piers of sea-blackened trap-rock, and
the gullet behind it could at this season be cleared by an English hunter.
We unloaded and warped our conveyance round the gape till she rode safe in
the inner broad. And now we saw that Prince's is not the river of the
hydrographic chart, but a true lagoon-stream, the remains of a much larger
formation. There has been, here and on other parts of the coast, a little
archipelago whose islets directed the riverine courses; the shallows
between were warped up by mangrove and other swampy vegetation, and the
whole has become, after a fashion, _terra firma_. Each holm had doubtless
a core of rock, whose decay produced a rich soil. Now they are mounds and
ridges of red clay standing up abruptly, and their dense growths of dark
yew-like trees contrast with the yellowish produce of the adjacent miry
The chief of Prince's Town, Eshanchi, _alias_ 'Septimulus,' a name showing
a succession of seven sons, not without a suspicion of twins, would have
accompanied us up stream. Guinea-worm, however, forbade, and he sent a
couple of guides, one of whom, Wafapa, _alias_ 'Barnabas,' a stout, active
freedman of the village, proved very useful.
We resolved to shoot the banks going, and to collect botanical specimens
on return. The land appears poor in mammals, rich in avifauna, and
exceedingly abundant in insect life. Of larger animals there are leopards,
cat o' mountains and civet-cats, wild hog and fine large deer; we bought a
leg weighing 11-1/2 lbs., and it was excellent eating seasoned with 'poor
man's quinine,' _alias_ garlic. Natives and strangers speak of the
jungle-cow, probably the Nyare antelope (_Bos brachyceros_) of the Gaboon
regions, the _empacasso_ of the Portuguese. Two small black squirrels,
scampering about a white-boled tree, were cunning enough never to give a
shot. We sighted only small monkeys with white beards and ruddy coats. 'He
be too clever for we,' said the Kruboys when the wary mannikins hid in the
bush. I saw nothing of the _kontromfi_, cynocephalus or dog-faced baboon,
concerning whose ferocity this part of Africa is full of stories. Further
north there is a still larger anthropoid, which the natives call a wild
man and Europeans a gorilla. The latter describe its peculiar whoop, heard
in the early night when the sexes call to each other.
Our results were two species of kingfishers (_alcedo_), the third and
larger kind not showing; a true curlew (_Numenius arquata_), charming
little black swallows (_Wardenia nigrita_), the common English swallow;
a hornbill (_buceros_), all feathers and no flesh; a lean and lanky
diver (_plotus_), some lovely little honeysuckers, a red oriole, a fine
vulture (_Gypohierax angolensis_), and a grand osprey (_hali[oe]tus_),
which even in the agonies of death would not drop his prey. Many other
birds were given over to Mr. Dawson, who worked from dawn till dusk. Mr.
Grant dropped from the trees three snakes, one green and two
slaty-brown. The collection found its way to the British Museum after
the usual extensive plunder, probably at a certain port, where it is
said professional collectors keep customhouse-men in pay. Mr. R. B.
Sharp was kind enough to name the birds, whose shrunken list will be
found at the end of the volume.
Cameron, observing for his map, was surprised by the windings of the bed;
we seemed ever within hearing of the sea. Where a holm of rock and bush
splits the course its waters swarm with fish, as shown by the weirs and
the baskets, large and small; some of its cat-fish (_siluri_) weigh 10
lbs. Every shoal bred oysters in profusion, young mangroves sprouted from
the submerged mollusk-beds, and the 'forests of the sea' were peopled with
At first the vegetation of the banks was almost wholly of rhizophores,
white and red; the wood of the latter burns like coal, and the bark is
admirable for tanning. In places their long suckers, growing downwards to
the stream, resembled a cordwainer's walk set on end. A bush of
yellow-flowered hibiscus clothes the banks that are less level; and,
higher still, grows a tall and beautiful mimosa with feathery web and
pendent pods of brightest green and yellow. Then came the brabs and palms,
fan-, cocoa-, oil-, and bamboo-, with their trunks turned to nurseries of
epiphytes and air-plants. The parasites are clematis and a host with hard
Towards evening, as the stream narrowed, the spectacle was imposing. The
avenues and trees stood up like walls, but living walls; and in places
their billowy bulges seemed about to burst upon us like Cape-rollers.
Every contrast was there of light and dark, short and tall, thick and
thin; of age and death with lusty youth clinging around it; of the cocoa's
drooping frond and the aspiring arm of bombax, the silk-cotton-tree, which
rains brown gossamer when the wind blows; of the sloth-tree with its
topping tuft, and the tangled mantle of the calamus or rattan, a palm like
a bamboo-cane. The bristly pod of the dolichos (_pruriens_) hangs by the
side of the leguminosae, from whose flattened, chestnut-coloured seeds
snuff-boxes are made further east. It was also a _floresta florida_, whose
giants are decked with the tender little blossoms of the shrub, and where
the bright bracts and yellow greens of this year's growth light up the
sombre verdure of an older date. The type of this growth is the red
camwood-tree, with its white flower of the sweetest savour. Imagine an
English elm studded with pinks or daisies, gardenias or hyacinths. There
is nothing more picturesque than the shiftings and changes of aspect upon
these African streams, which at first seem so monotonous. After dawn the
smoking water, feeling tepid to the hand and warmer than the atmosphere,
veils the lower levels and makes the forest look as if based on air. Noon
brings out every variety of distance with startling distinctness, and
night, especially moonlit night, blurs with its mists long tracts of
forest, rains silver over the ridges, and leaves the hollows in the
blackest shade. Seen from above, the sea of trees looks like green water
raised to waves by the wind, and the rustling in the breeze mimics the
sound of distant surf.
A catamaran of four cork-trees, a cranky canoe, the landing-place of a
bush-road, a banana-plantation, and a dwarf clearing, where sat a family
boiling down palm-nuts for oil, proved that here and there the lowland did
not lack lowlanders. The people stared at us without surprise, although
this was only the fourth time they had seen a surf-boat. The river-bed,
grid-ironed with rocky reefs, showed us twenty-two turns in a few miles;
some were horseshoe-bends, sweeping clean round to the south, and one
described a curve of 170º. After slow and interrupted paddling for an hour
and a half, at 6 P.M., when night neared, we halted at the village of
Esubeyah, or 'Water-made;' [Footnote: The radical of water is 'su,'
curiously corresponding with Turkish and with that oldest of the Turkish
tongues, Chinese.] and my companion made sure of his distances by a
latitudinal observation of Canopus.
Next morning we had 'English tea' for the first and last time in West
Africa; usually we preferred the Russian form, drunk in a tumbler with a
slice of lime that sinks or of lemon that floats. Mr. Gillett had given us
a bottle of 'Romanshorn' from the Swiss farm, an admirable preparation
which also yields fresh butter. The price is high, 1_s_. 6_d_. a bottle,
or, for the case of forty-eight imperial pints, 72_s_.; this, however, is
the Coast, not the cost figure. For invalids, who are nauseated by the
sickly, over-sugared stuff popularly called 'tin-juice,' and who feel life
put in them by rum and milk, it is an invaluable comfort.
We left Esubeyah in the 'lizard's sun' at 7 A.M., and found the river
changed for the worse. The freshets had uptorn from the banks the tallest
trees, which in places formed a timber-floor; and the surf-boat gallantly
charged, till she leaked, the huge trunks, over which she had often to be
lifted. Nothing would be easier than to clear away these obstacles; a few
pounds of gun-cotton would remove snags and sawyers, and dredging by boats
would do the rest. Then Prince's River would become an excellent highway.
An hour and a half's slow paddling placed us at the landing-place of Bekai
(a village in general), the usual hole in the bush. Here navigation ends
in the dry season. We walked to and through the mean little settlement,
and established ourselves at Anima-kru, [Footnote: The English 'croom' is
a corruption of _kru-mu_ or _krum_, 'in the village.' Properly speaking
'kru' and 'man' are the town, or common centre of many _akura_
(plantation-hamlets), in which the owners keep their families and
_familiae_.] a mile from the landing-place on the Yenna, or Prince's
River. It faces a splendidly wooded mound upon the right or opposite bank.
Mra Kwami, the headman, received us hospitably, cleared a house, and
offered us the usual palm-wine and snuff: the powder, composed of tobacco,
ginger, and cloves, is boxed in a round wild fruit.
The village contained only two men; the rest were drinking, at Prince's
town, the proceeds of a puncheon of palm-oil. The plantations still showed
fruits and flowers probably left by the Portuguese--wild oranges, mangoes,
limes, pine-apples, and the 'four o'clock,' a kind of 'marvel of Peru,'
supposed to open at that hour. The houses, _crepi_ or parget below and
bamboo above, are mere band-boxes raised from the ground; the smaller
perfectly imitated poultry-crates. All appeared unusually neat and clean,
with ornamental sheets of clam-shells trodden into the earth before the
thresholds. 'Fetish' was abundant, and so was that worst of all plagues
After breakfasting we set out north over a sandy level, clearly reclaimed
from the sea, and in a few minutes struck the true coast. Here begins the
St. John mining-ground, conceded for prospecting to Messieurs Gillett and
Selby. A fair path runs up hillocks of red-yellow clay, metalled with
rounded quartz and ironstone-gravel, roped with roots and barred with
trees; their greatest elevation may have been 120 feet. Two parallel
ridges, trending north-north-east, are bisected by torrents pouring
westward to the river: now dry, they have rolled down huge boulders in
their frequent floods. These 'hard-heads,' which try the hammer, show a
revetment of cellular iron upon a solid core of greenstone and bluish
trap. Some fragments not a little resembled the clay-slates of the
Brazilian gold-mines. Such was the concession which we named Sao Joao do
Presently the chief, Mra Kwami, announced to us that we had reached the
northern boundary-line of the estate. He now would have left us, as it is
not customary, when gold is in question, for one head-man to enter
another's country. We succeeded, however, in persuading him to show us the
other side of the river. A short walk up and down hill led to the ford of
the 'Yenna,' the native name, probably a corruption of 'St. John.' It lies
a little above the dyke where the stream breaks into a dwarf fall, and
below the crossing where a ferry formerly plied. We now found a regular
river, no longer a lagoon-stream; the clear water, most unlike the
matter-suspending and bitumen-coloured fluid of the lower bed, was
beautified by lilies with long leaves and broad flowers of virgin white.
We rode the Kruboys pick-a-back across the broken reef through which the
stream bursts and brawls, and walked a few paces up the left bank to the
Kumasi [Footnote: The Ashantis translate the word 'under the Kum-tree;'
the Fantis make it mean 'slay all.'] village. It had been lately deserted;
but we found there Kwako Benta, headman of Ajamera, who had spent a week
in forcing the deserters to rejoin the corps. He was the reverse of
cordial, probably wishing at once to prove importance and to give our
guide the cold shoulder: we persuaded him, however, to show us the Muku
concession, granted to Messieurs Lintott and Spink.
The ground which fronts the reef-ford reflects that of the left bank, and
is pitted with diggings, large and small. In a dry torrent-bed, running
north-south, was an oblong shaft, a native copy of European work, four
feet by six, and timbered in the usual negro way. Its further bank was a
high and steep slope of yellow clay with a midway step, containing another
and a similar shaft: to the north and west were many other signs of
exploitation. The rich-looking quartz of the lode is white and sugary,
with black streaks and veins: its strike is nearly meridional, between
north 20º and 25º east, and the dip 40º-45º east. A glance shows that
_Fluthwerk_ and 'hydraulicking' would easily wash down the whole alluvial
and auriferous formation to the floor of grey granite which has supplied
the huge 'cankey-stones' [Footnote: This proto-historic implement, also
called a 'saddle-quern,' is here made out of a thick slab of granite
slightly concave and artificially roughened. The muller, or mealing-stone,
is a large, heavy, and oval rolling-pin used with the normal rocking and
grinding motion. These rollers are also used for crushing ore, and
correspond with the stone _polissoirs_ of ancient date.] littering the
village. Cameron, who had before visited the site, and had remarked how
vigorously the placer-gravels had been attacked by the natives, would
'hydraulick' by means of the St. John's River. This might also be done by
damming up and tapping the adjacent bottom. And, if routine work be
wanted, it would cost little to construct upon the topmost crest a large
reservoir with channels to conduct the rains, and thus secure a fair fall
for the water.
We slept once more at Anima-kru; and here Cameron made sure of his
position by Jupiter and Procyon, and by his valuable watch-chronometer,
the gift of his brother-officers: it worked peculiarly well. The St.
John's mine lies in north lat. 4º 49' 44", and in west long. (G.) 2º 6'
44". While the owners would place it seven miles from the sea, it is
distant only 2.2 from 'old Fort Brandenburg.' Early next morning we packed
and prepared for return, the chief Mra Kwami insisting upon escorting us.
And now the difference of travel in Africa and England struck me forcibly.
Fancy a band of negro explorers marching uninvited through the Squire's
manor, strewing his lawn and tennis-ground with all manner of rubbish;
housing their belongings in his dining- and drawing- and best bed-rooms,
which are at once vacated by his wife and family; turning his cook out of
his or her kitchen; calling for the keys of his dairy and poultry-yard,
hot-houses, and cellar; and rummaging the whole mansion for curios and
heirlooms interesting to the negro anthropologist. Fancy also their
bidding him to be ready next morning for sporting and collecting purposes,
with all his pet servants, his steward and his head-gardener, his
stud-groom and his gamekeeper; and allowing, by way of condescension, Mr.
Squire to carry their spears, bows, and arrows; bitterly deriding his
weapons the while, as they proceed to whip his trout-stream, to pluck his
pet plants, to shoot his pheasants, and to kill specimens of his rarest
birds for exhibition in Africa. Fancy their enquiring curiously about his
superstitions, sitting in his pew, asking for bits of his East window, and
criticising his 'fetish' in general, ending with patting him upon the back
and calling him a 'jolly old cock.' Finally, fancy the Squire greatly
enjoying such treatment, and feeling bitterly hurt unless handled after
this fashion. Paddling down stream, we collected for Kew. But the
hopelessness of the task weighs upon the spirits: a square mile of such
flora would take a week. There is a prodigious variety of vegetation, and
the quantity of edible berries, 'fowl's lard,' 'Ashanti-papaw,' and the
Guinea-peach (_Sarcophalus esculentus_) would gladden the heart of a
gorilla. Every larger palm-trunk was a fernery; every dead bole was an
orchidry; and huge fungi, two feet broad, fed upon the remains of their
victims. Climbers, chiefly papilionaceous, and llianas, bigger than the
biggest boa-constrictor, coiled and writhed round the great gloomy trees
which rained their darkness below. In the sunlight were pretty jasmines
(_J. grande_), crotons and lantanas, with marantas, whose broad green
leafage was lined with pink and purple. Deep in shadow lay black miry
sloughs of sickening odour, near which the bed of Father Thames at low
water would be scented with rose-water; and the caverns, formed by the
arching roots of the muddy mangrove, looked haunts fit for crocodile and
behemoth and all manner of unclean, deadly beasts. And there are little
miseries for African collectors. 'Wait-a-bit' thorns tear clothes and
skin. Tree-snakes turn the Kru-boys not pale but the colour of boiled
liver; their 'bowels fail them,' as the natives say. Each tree has its
ant, big or small, black or red; and all sting more or less. We see their
armies marching up the trunks, and the brush of a bough brings down a
little shower. Monstrous mangrove-flies and small brown-coloured 'huri,'
most spiteful biters, and wasps here and there, assail the canoe; and we
are happy if we escape a swarm of the wild bees: their curious,
treacle-like honey is enjoyed by the people.
We landed in due time at 'Prinsi,' whose civilised chief had laid out a
clean path, lined with umbrella-figs backed by a bush of self-sown guavas.
A good upper-storied house was found for us, with standing bedsteads,
sofa, table, and chairs. It belonged to one of the _penins_, or elders.
The chapel, with its three front and five lateral windows, is the best we
have yet seen. The schoolmaster, Mr. Sego, lives in a house hard by; and
the adjacent school, a wattled cottage, echoes to the voices of some
thirty to forty scholars. The town looks prosperous. Building is easy;
oysters and other shells supply lime; the clay dug to the north makes good
adobes, and stone is easily quarried from the old fort.
We found Prince's in a state of unusual jollity, drinking the proceeds of
their three puncheons, dancing and playing what Sa Leone calls
'warry.' [Footnote: A game with counters and holes in the ground or a board
hollowed with cups. The same, called _bao_, or tables, is found in East
Africa (Zanzibar) and Cameron traced it extending clear across the Dark
Continent.] The bell and the psalm blended curiously with the song and the
palm-clapping that announces negro terpsichore. Of course 'fetish' was
present, in the shape of a woman peculiarly ornamented. Her very black
face was dazzlingly chalked, lines by threes running from hair-roots to
nose-bridge and meeting others drawn across the temples; the orbits of the
eyes were whitened, and thence triple streaks stretched up the nose and
across the cheeks. Hung to the extensive necklace of beads and other
matters were tassels of dry white fibre; her forearms carried yellow
bunches of similar material, and she held a broom of blackened bamboo and
the metal bell familiar to Unyamwezi. Whilst the juniors danced and sang
the elders drank and gambled.
After a cool and comfortable night we visited the ruins which Bosman calls
Casteel Groot Frederiksburg tot Pocquesoe (Prince's). Our Hydrographic
Chart has 'old fort Brandenburg,' which is at Cape Threepoints. Others
declare that it was the only good establishment owned by the Elector; and
the best authority, Lieut. Jeekel, terms it G Friedrichsburg (Hollandia).
I may note that 'Prinsi 'Ollandia' is still the native name. These
buildings interest us greatly, because in the coming days of immigration
they will serve for hospitals, stores, and barracoons. Ascending a few
feet of bushy hill, called in books 'Mamfra,' and once evidently an
island, we came upon the eastern flank, three substantial bastions and a
cavalier, with masonry knitted by creepers. We then wound round by the
southern or sea side, and, turning the angle, made the eastern flank. The
gateway, stockade, and belfry shown in Bosman ('Eerste Brief,' 1737) have
disappeared; so also has the slave-court, but the double doorway remains.
The spacious centre, planted with bananas almost wild, would make a grand
garden; the walls are built to stand for ages; and, although the floors of
the upper stories have been torn down, there would be no difficulty in
restoring them. As steps and stairs are absent, it was not possible to
reach the battlements. These are luxuriant with vegetation, of which I
should preserve a portion for shade and coolth. A fine arched cistern now
affords a shelter to bats; and a building which appears to be the chapel
remains on the northern side. Old iron guns still cumber the embrasures
and the ground.
Issuing by the northern face, which has been torn down for ashlar, we set
up the photographic stand and took the north-western angle. Here an
enormous fig draws its life from the death of the wall. The morning air in
the shade was delicious, a great contrast with the heavy dampness of Axim;
and the view of the St. John's River west and of Cape Threepoints east was
charming. With usual neglect the photographer had sent out his machine and
dry plates without any means of developing them; we therefore worked
blindly and could not see results.
When embarking in Prince's Bay, where the surf was perfectly safe, we were
informed a little too late of a valuable gold-mine called Kokobene. It
lies close behind the village Akitaki, which we had seen during our
morning's walk along the beach leading to Cape Threepoints. The chief,
Eshanchi, promised to forward specimens of the reefs, and did not forget
to keep his promise. The quartz-specimens which were brought to us at
Akankon by Wafapa, or Barnabas, promised excellently, and I authorised Mr.
Grant to buy an exploring right of the Kokobene-Akitaki diggings. Their
position as well as their quality will render them valuable: they will
prove a second Apatim.
We returned to Axim on February 19, after a short but very satisfactory
trip which added much to our knowledge of the coast and its ways. It had
also the merit of being economical; we took matters in hand, and
consequently our four days cost us only 2_l_. 8_s_.
I have spoken much about 'hydraulicking' in this chapter, and I shall now
borrow a few details concerning the operation from Sir William Logan, who,
in his 'Geological Survey of Canada,' quotes Mr. William P. Blake.
Speaking of California, the learned author writes, 'In this method the
force of a jet of water with great pressure is made available both for
excavating and washing the auriferous earth. The water, issuing in a
continuous stream with great force from a large hose-pipe like that of a
fire-engine, is directed against the base of a bank of earth and gravel,
and tears it away. The bank is rapidly undermined, the gravel is loosened,
violently rolled together, and cleansed from any adhering particles of
gold, while the fine clay and the sand are carried off by the water. In
this manner hundreds of tons of earth and gravel may be removed, and all
the gold which they contain liberated and secured with greater ease and
expedition than ten tons could be excavated and washed in the old way. All
the earth and gravel of a deposit is moved, washed, and carried off
through long sluices by the water, leaving the gold behind. Square acres
of earth on the hill-sides may thus be swept away into the hollows without
the aid of a pick or a shovel in excavation. Water performs all the
labour, moving and washing the earth in one operation, while in excavating
by hand the two processes are of necessity entirely distinct. The value of
this method and the yield of gold as compared with the older one can
hardly be estimated.
'The water acts constantly with uniform effect, and can be brought to bear
upon almost any point, where it would be difficult for men to work. It is
especially effective in a region covered by trees, where the tangled roots
would greatly retard the labour of workmen. In such places the stream of
water washes out the earth from below, and tree after tree falls before
the current, any gold which may have adhered to the roots being washed
away. With a pressure of sixty feet and a pipe of from one and a half to
two inches' aperture, over 1,000 bushels of earth can be washed out from a
bank in a day.
'Earth which contains only one-twenty-fifth part of a grain of gold, equal
to one-fifth of a cent in value to the bushel, may be profitably washed by
this method; and any earth or gravel which will pay the expense of washing
in the old way gives enormous profits by the new process. To wash
successfully in this way requires a plentiful supply of water, at an
elevation of from fifty to ninety feet above the bed-rock, [Footnote: This
is by no means necessary. The jet can be thrown from below like the
fireman's hose playing upon a burning house. I shall return to this highly
important subject.] and a rapid slope or descent from the base of the bank
of earth to be washed, so that the waste water will run off through the
sluices, bearing with it gravel, sand, and suspended clay.
* * * * *
'In the case of a deposit in North Carolina, where ten men were required
for thirty-five days to dig the earth with pick and shovel and wash it in
sluices, two men with a single jet of water could accomplish the same work
in a week. The great economy of this method is manifest from the fact that
many old deposits in the river-beds, the gravel of which had been already
washed by hand, have again been washed with profit by the hydraulic
'In California the whole art of working the diluvial gold-deposits was
revolutionised by this new method. The auriferous earth lying on hills and
at some distance above the level of the watercourses would in the ordinary
methods be excavated by hand and brought to the water, but by the present
system the water is brought by aqueducts to the gold-deposits, and whole
square miles which were before inaccessible have yielded up their precious
metal. It sometimes happens from the irregular distribution of the gold in
the diluvium in California that the upper portions of a deposit do not
contain gold enough to be washed by the ordinary methods, and would thus
have to be removed at a considerable expense in order to reach the richer
portion below. By the hydraulic method, however, the cost of cutting away
and excavating is so trifling that there is scarcely any bank of earth
which will not pay the expense of washing down in order to reach the rich
deposits of gold beneath.'
To conclude. Our collection of plants was sent to the Herbarium, Kew; and,
as the Appendix (II. Part II.) shows, was kindly catalogued by the learned
Professor D. Oliver.
FROM AXIM TO INGOTRO AND AKANKON.
After a long palaver with the three claimants to the Akankon
mining-ground, Kofi Blaychi (Little Blay), Kwako Jum, and Safahin Sensense
(the lessor), we left Axim once more (February 24) to inspect the head of
the Ancobra river. At the sleeping-place, Kumprasi, we were visited by Mr.
Cascaden, District-commissioner for Takwa, a fine-looking man of fifteen
stone, pulled down to twelve by dysentery. He was speedily followed to
England by his _remplacant_, Dr. Duke.
Next morning, when the thick white fog, which made the smoking river
resemble Father Rhine in autumn, had been licked up by fiery rays, we
embarked, together with Chief Apo, of Asanta, the honest old owner of the
'Ingotro concession.' Our conveyance was the _Effuenta_, a steam-launch
attached to the mine of that name, bought second-hand, and a fine specimen
of what launches ought _not_ to be. Built by Messieurs Dickenson, of
Birkenhead, she is much too small (36 feet by 8) for a river which, even
in the depth of the dries, averages two fathoms, and rarely runs less than
ten feet. The engines are over far from the boiler, and the long raking
stern swells out into a big belly worthy of a manatee or a Dutch hoy. Her
boiler had been replaced with the usual inconsequence. She had been
repaired by an 'intelligent artisan,' Mr. Emery; but, as he was allowed no
tools and no time, he contented himself with reporting her in good working
order. Consequently after every half-hour we had to unscrew the
safety-valve, let off steam, and fill the boiler with a funnel and a tin
pot. Pleasant three hours under a thin board-awning, in a broiling sun,
off a poisonous mangrove-swamp! Presently she had to be started by the
surf-boat lashed to one side, and a large canoe to the other. Finally,
after a last breakdown, we saw steam-launch _Effuenta_ lying high and dry
upon the beach at Sanma.
We had nothing to complain of the engineer, Mr. William George, a Sa
Leonite, and of the helmsman, Kwamina Ekum, a Gold Coast man. Both did
their best with the heavily laden trio of boats. Cameron established
himself--compass, log, lead, and dredge--in the steamer stern. His
admirable geographical labours in 'Crossing Africa' are, after a few years
of a swift-moving age, lapsing Lethe-wards; and
To _have_ done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty nail
In monumental mockery.
Now he has another opportunity of doing valuable service, none of these
positions having been established by observations, and of showing
travellers how topography should be worked. He has before him for
correction the Hydrographic chart, which pretends to nothing within the
Coast, and the 'River Ankobra and Tarquah(!) Gold Mines,' printed in 1878
by Captain Louis Wyatt, then District-commissioner for Axim. This first
attempt at a regular survey is meritorious for an amateur; but of course
it cannot compare with the produce of a scientific and experienced naval
surveyor. We had Lieut. Jeekel, before alluded to, but his scale,
1:250,000, is too small for details. I did not see, till long after our
return from this excursion, the then unfinished map by M. Paulus Dahse, a
veteran West-Coaster, who has spent years in travelling through the
interior. My fellow-voyager also was the first to show me the various
cartes printed and published by the late M. Bonnat. [Footnote: _Carte des
Concessions de 'The African Gold Coast Company_,' par M. J. Bonnat. Paris,
August 1879. Beginning south at Tumento, it does not show the southern
fork of the Bonsa or Abonsa River, which falls into the Ancobra's left
bank; and it ends a little north of Asseman, the cemetery of the 'kings.'
M. Bonnat had already printed in 1877 a _Chart of the River Ankobra_,
extending north as far as the 'Gold Mines of Aodoua.']
The Ancobra is an enlarged copy of the Yenna or Prince's River. There are
the same swampy borders and 'impenetrable forests,' as Captain Wyatt
entitles them; while the mangrove never quite disappears from this true
lagoon-stream. The monotonous fringe of rhizophores is broken, about two
miles from the mouth, by bamboo-palms and hibiscus-beds, then by the
bombax, the rubber-vine, the locust-tree (_inga_), and the
banana-plantation. The mounds and hillocks on either side, beginning with
the Akromasi and Kabudwe mounds, near the mouth, are evidently parts of an
ancient archipelago built by the mangrove and silted up to mainland. The
long and curious reaches are shown in my companion's map, and I shall
notice only those details which claim something of general interest.
After about eight miles' steaming up a huge loop to the west, and a bend
easterly, we passed the Kwabina Bosom, or Fetish-Rocks, two wall-like
blocks, one mangrove-grown and the other comparatively bare. Contrary to
native usage, we chose the fair way between the latter and the left bank,
for which innovation, said our escort, we shall surely suffer.
Beyond the Fetish-Rocks the right bank shows a cleared mound ready for
immediate planting: this concession once belonged to Dr. Ross, of Axim.
Opposite it the mining-ground has been leased for prospecting by Messieurs
Gillett and Selby. The notable feature of the river is now the
prawn-basket, a long cone closed at the blunt apex: the Ancobra is a
'Camarones,' supplying a first-rate article for curries. This is the work
of the uninteresting little villages, scatters of mere crates built in
holes worn in the bush; all disappear during the floods, and are rebuilt
in the dry season for growing rice and tapping palm-trees. Besides a few
humans they contain nothing save lean dogs and etiolated poultry; cattle,
sheep, and even pigs are wholly unknown.
In the afternoon we pushed through a wild thunderstorm of furious tropical
rain, which pitted the river-face like musket-balls. It arose in the
south; but throughout the Ancobra valley wet weather apparently comes from
all directions. Chief Apo gravely ascribed it to our taking the wrong side
of the Fetish-Rocks. I have heard, even in civilised lands, sillier
There were two landing-places for the large Ingotro concession, both on
the right bank. The lower leads, they say, over dry land, but the way is
long and hilly. That up stream is peculiarly foul, and to us it was made
fouler by the pelting shower. At low water, in the dry season, the little
Nanwa creek, subtending the higher ground on the north, becomes too
shallow for the smallest dug-out; and we had to wade or to be carried over
an expanse of fetid and poisonous mangrove-mud festering in the sun, and
promising a luxuriant growth of ague and fever. The first rise of sandy
yellow loam showed the normal Gold Coast metalling of iron-stone and
quartz-gravel, thinly spread with water-rounded pebbles. Then the path,
very badly laid out, merged into a second foul morass, whose depths were
crossed by the rudest of bridges, single and double trunks of felled or
fallen trees. Nothing easier than to corduroy this _mauvais pas_.
A second rise showed a fine reef of white and blue quartz, which runs
right through the settlement to the banks of the Nanwa stream. A quarter
of an hour's walk from the landing-place placed us in the Nanwa village,
now popularly known as Walker-Kru. It consists of a few mean little
hovels, the usual cage-work, huddled together in most unpicturesque
confusion. Prick-eared curs, ducks, and fowls compose the bestial
habitants, to which must be added the regiments of rats (and ne'er a cat)
which infest all these places. There were no mosquitoes, but the sand-fly
bit viciously on mornings and evenings between the dark and sunlit hours,
confining one to the dim cage and putting a veto upon the pleasant lounge
or seat in the cool open. We found lodgings in the guest-hut of the
headman, Kwako Juma, like most of his brethren, a civil man and a greedy.
But the Krumen, boatmen and carriers, were also lodged in the little
settlement, and these people always make night hideous with their songs
and squabbles, their howling voices, and hyaena-like bursts of laughter.
It is very difficult to 'love one's neighbour as oneself' when he appears
in this form under these circumstances.
By times next morning we woke too soon the villagers, who enjoy long talks
by night and deep slumbers in early day. They appear much inclined to
slumber again. But both Apo of Asanta and Juma of Nanwa were exceedingly
anxious to know when mining-works would begin, and, that failing, to
secure as much 'dash' as possible.
The Ingotro concession, the largest we have yet seen, measures 3,000
fathoms square, the measurements being taken from the central shaft.
Assuming every thousand fathoms roughly to represent a geographical mile,
the area would be of nine square miles. This will evidently admit of being
divided and sub-divided into half a dozen or more estates. As yet little
of its wealth has been explored, chiefly owing to the dense growth of
forest. As Mr. Walker remarks, 'Although timber is a great desideratum on
a mining-estate, the thick woods have the disadvantage of concealing many
rich deposits of gold, and I have very little doubt that the diminution of
the population, and the consequent overgrowth of the bush or jungle, has
much to do with the great falling off in the production and export of gold
from this region.'
The emancipation of slaves and 'pawns' would have in Africa no other
effect. Free men will not work, and 'bush,' unless kept down, will grow
with terrible ferocity.
When Indian file was duly formed, we descended the Nanwa hillock, which
takes its name from the stream. Here the little rivulet, deeply encased,
bore a fine growth of snowy water-lilies. It had been newly bridged with
corduroy. The next passage boasted tree-trunks, and after that all was
leaping. The Nanwa must rise near the trial-shaft, which we are about to
visit, and it snakes through the property in all directions with a general
rhumb from west-north-west to east-south-east. At this season there is
little or no flow, and the bed is mostly a string of detached pools, where
gold has been washed and will be washed again. Thus the facilities for
'hydraulicking' are superior, and the number of shallow native pits at
once suggests the properest process.
We then struck across the heavily timbered country, which is the wildest
state of 'bushiness.' A few paces led to 'King's Croom,' a deserted
mining-village in a dwarf clearing rapidly overgrowing with the Brazilian
_Catinga_. Hereabouts we saw nothing save 'hungry quartz.' Then we struck
across three several ridges, whose slopes were notably easier on the
eastern, and more abrupt on the western side. The people had sunk several
pits in places likely to yield 'kindly quartz,' and they had made no
mistakes as to the overlay of the lode, its foot-wall or its hanging-wall.
Cameron presently made an offset to the north, and, cutting his road,
walked ten minutes up the tail of Tuako Hill, at whose southern base lies
the Nanwa bed. Here, guided by Mr. Grant, who knew the place well, he
found a native shaft thirty feet deep and a lode of disintegrated quartz
in red or yellow ferruginous clay, the surface looking as rich as the
stone it overlies.
A few paces further and a third drop led us again to the swampy valley of
the Nanwa, here flowing south. It is bounded by two rises, tree-grown from
foot to head. That on the left bank is the Tuako, the husband, along whose
skirt we have been walking; the other, on the opposite side, is Jama, the
wife. From their conjugal visits the gold is born. Some attempts had been
made to blast a rock in the skirt of Jama's garment; but all had notably
failed. The reeking, unwholesome bottom showed extensive traces of digging
Following the water, we came to the second little mining-village, also
deserted. The name 'Ingotro' means a broad-leaved liliaceous plant, the
_wura-haban_ (water-leaf) of the Fantis, used for thatching when
palm-fronds are not found. From this place an old bush-path once led
directly to the lands we call 'Izrah,' but it has long been closed by
native squabbles. A few yards further placed us in an exceedingly rich
bottom, honeycombed by native workers. Hard by it appeared the central
shaft, lying between two hills, the Ingotro-buka and the Nanwa-buka, which
define the course of the rivulet. The distance from Nanwa village may have
been three miles, but we had spent more than three hours in making
Amongst the insects was the silk-spider, a large arachnid of
sulphur-yellow tint, with three black transverse bars. It weaves no web,
but spins a thread of the strongest texture and the richest golden hue. I
had sent from Fernando Po several pounds of this fine silk, intending to
experiment upon it in a veil or lace shawl; and afterwards I learned that
the Empress Eugenie had a dress made of it, which cost a fabulous number
of francs. Bacon and other old writers talk of 'spider's silk' like
gathering moonbeams. [Footnote: The _Ananse_ or _Agya ananse_ (father
spider), as the Oji-speaking peoples call the insect, is with them either
a creator of man (corresponding so far with the scarabeus in the Nile
valley) or a representative of the evil principle. Bosman (Letter xvii.),
describing a 'great hideous hairy species,' says, 'The negroes call this
spider _ananse_, and believe that the first men were made by that
creature; and, notwithstanding some of them by conversation with the
Europeans are better informed, there are yet a great number that remain of
that opinion, out of which folly they are not to be reasoned.' The people
have a number of fables called _Anansesem_, such as _Spider and Spiderson
and the Three Ghosts_; in these spider-stories the insect, like the fox
with us, is the most intelligent of animals (the late Rev. J. Zimmermann's
_Akra or Ga Grammar_, Stuttgart, 1858). It is represented as speaking
through the nose like the local 'bogy,' and its hobbling gait is imitated
by the story-teller. Another superstition is that the Ananu (the Akra form
of the word) injures children sleeping in the same room with it. At
Fernando Po I found another valuable spider which preys upon cockroaches.
When a cruiser was particularly afflicted by the _blatta_, a couple of
these insects would effectually clear chests and drawers in a few days.
There are other species, _Entekuma_, &c.]
The upper shaft had been sunk, as it should be, in the eastern flank of
the hill, which faces north 71º east, and which runs north 3º west (both
true). The surface and subsoil are the usual sandy loam scattered with
gravel of quartz and ironstone, and the spoil-banks showed blue and white
quartz. The clay-slate, dark, soft, and laminated, appeared everywhere.
Lower down, on the same slope, Mr. Grant had dug a second shaft, somewhat
smaller than the upper: both were full of rain-water. Mr. Walker mentions
a large native pit near the centre, whence rich stone had been taken. He
picked up from the refuse several pieces of quartz showing free gold,
which gave, when assayed, 2.6 oz. gold and 0.3 oz. silver per ton. This
was from a depth of only ten feet. His own trial-shaft, when he left the
Coast, was not more than three feet deep; but every sample showed traces
of gold, and an Australian miner of thirty years' experience declared that
the 'stuff' promised a rich yield below. Like ourselves, he found the
whole country 'impregnated with gold.' On the path within fifty yards of
the Nanwa village we knocked off some pieces of quartz that displayed the
precious ore to the naked eye.
The slope in which the two shafts had been sunk fell into a depression
between the hills which indicated the richest surface-diggings. Here a
number of detached sinkings had been run together by the recent rains into
a long miry pool. Mr. Walker also speaks of a 'very large number of
shallow native pits.' No one could see this exceedingly rich 'gulch'
without determining that it should be washed upon the largest scale. It
will be time to sink shafts and make deep diggings here when sluicing and
surfacing shall have done their work.
From Ingotro we marched back to Nanwa and took leave of Chief Apo; his
parting words were a request that work might be begun as soon as possible,
and that at any rate his concession should be properly marked out. The
limitation must not be neglected, but the exploitation of the diggings is
another affair. The ground is exceptionally rich in gold, and it offers
every facility for extracting the metal. But the climate of the lowlands
presents difficulties. In so large an area of broken ground, however,
there are eminences that command a prospect of the sea and which are
within the influence of the sea-breeze. The conditions will, doubtless,
improve when the adjacent mining-grounds, Inyoko and Izrah, shall have
been opened and the country cleared and ventilated. In the meantime light
works and hydraulicking on an extensive scale might be begun at once,
especially during the rainy season, under seasoned and acclimatised
overseers. An amelioration must be the result, and even before the rich
surface has been washed it will be possible to set up heavy machinery for
deep working, shafting, and tunnelling.
Embarking about 3 P.M. on board _Effuenta_, we steamed up the Ancobra,
which here looks more like a river and less like a lagoon. The settlements
become more important, the first being Nfia-kru, or the 'dog-village.'
There were many influents, which showed like dark breaches in the rampart
of verdure. Such was the Ahema (Huma), a creek that breaks the left bank.
This name may become memorable. Upon its upper course Messieurs Gillett
and Selby have a small mining concession, and in its golden gravels Mr. O.
Pegler, Associate of the School of Mines, found a crystal which he
strongly suspected to be a diamond. It was taken to Axim, where its
glass-cutting properties were proved. Unfortunately during one of these
trials the setting gave way, and the stone fell into a heap of rubbish,
where it could not be found. Many have suspected that these regions will
prove diamantiferous; and it is reported that an experienced French
mineralogist, who has visited the South African diggings, landed at Assini
and proposed to canoe up the Tando River to the Takwa mines, prospecting
in search of his specialty.
A portentous cloud ahead growled its thunder and discharged thin rain,
while the westing sun shone clear and bright. In Dahome the combination
suggests the ghosts of Kutomen going to market, [Footnote: The Akra-men
make Sisaman, their Kutomen, Scheol or Hades, a town on one of the Volta
holms or somewhere beyond. The Gold Coast has three species of departed
'spirits' (_asamanfo_)--the shades of men who fell in fight or by accident
(as by a tree-fall); common spirits, and lingering spirits, so called
because they do not enter Shade-land, but hover about man's dwellings. The
slain never associate with the commonalty; they walk about rubbed with
white clay and clad in white; nor are they afraid of, whereas the others
fly from, and are unwilling to be seen by, the living. 'It is said in the
Dead-land below the earth there are kings as well as slaves. If you have
been long sick in this world you will recover health there after three
years, but one killed in battle or by accident will be well in a month or
so. It is said that Dead-land is below (earth); others declare it is above
(the sky). About this there is no certainty. Where one is taken to when he
dies there his spirit is; when they die and take you to the spirits'
grove, then your spirit is in the grove. The town (or land) of the
departed spirits is not in the grove, but in the earth; it is a large
town, and going there a mountain has to be climbed. The way of one who
died a natural death is dark in heaven; but if one who died in battle or
by accident take that way, some of the white clay with which he is rubbed
falls down; therefore his way (_via lactea_) appears white. In the
spirits' grove the departed spirits do not stay always; only on certain
days they assemble there for eating, drinking, and playing.' Yet these
'spiritualists' (_with_ the spirits) have scant pleasure in contemplating
the future. Their proverb is, 'A corner in the world of matter is better
than a world of spirits,'--Page 407, _Dictionary of the Asante and Fante
Languages_, by Rev. J. G. Christaller.] in Fanti-land the hunchback woman
becoming a mother, and in England his Satanic Majesty beating his wife.
Off the Eketekki village we saw, for the first time, bad snags, which will
require removal. About sunset the Aka-kru settlement, the largest yet
noted, appeared on the left bank. Here the Akankon Mining Company has a
native house of wattle and dab, looking somewhat better than the normal
mud-cabin. It had been unceremoniously occupied by natives, who roared
their laughter when ordered to turn out. From Aka-kru there is a direct
line to the Effuenta, within an hour's walk of the Takwa mine; the four
stages can be covered in twenty hours. [Footnote: Mr. Gillett, who had
lately passed over it, gave me these notes on the line. No. 1 stage from
Aka-kru crosses virgin land, the property of the 'King' of Axim, to
Autobrun (three hours); No. 2 leads over fine level ground to Dompe (nine
hours slow); No. 3 to Abrafu, on the Abonsa River, one march south of the
Abonsa station (three hours); No. 4 to the Effuenta mine (five hours).]
At 6.30 P.M. we saw, a little above Aka-kru, and also on the left bank,
Jyachabo, or 'Silver-' (Jyacho) 'stone.' Of this settlement Captain Wyatt
notes, 'It is said that a silver-mine was formerly worked here by the
Dutch and Portuguese.' Hard by the north of it lie the ruins of the old
Hollanders' fort, St. John, which the natives have corrupted to
'Senchorsu;' the people, however, did not seem to know their whereabouts.
We determined to push on to Akankon, despite the ugly prospect of a dark
walk through the wet bush, and of deferring the survey to another time.
Suddenly we saw on the right bank the black silhouette of a house,
standing high and lone in its clearing, and we made fast to a good
landing-place, an inclined plane of corduroy. It was an unexpected
pleasure; both had been put up after Cameron left the mine by the native
caretaker, Mr. Morris.
We slept soundly through a cool and pleasant night at 'Riverside House.'
The large building of palm-fronds, with a roof like the lid of a
lunch-basket, contains three rooms, and will be provided with outhouses.
Inside and outside it is whitewashed above and blackwashed below. The
coal-tar was suggested by my nautical companion; and, for the first time
on the Ancobra River, we exchanged the _bouquet d'Afrique_ for the smell
of Europe. The big crate stands high upon the right bank, here rising
about twenty feet, and affording a pleasant prospect of breezy brown
stream deeply encased in bright green forest. The draught caused by
flowing water keeps the clearing clean of sand-flies, the pest of the
inner settlements, and European employes will find the place healthy. The
up-sloping ground behind the house could be laid out in a pottage-garden;
and, as Bahama-grass grows fast, there will be no difficulty about
disposing of the under-growth.
Next morning (February 27) we were joined by Mr. Morris, who told the long
tale of his grievances. He had been in charge of ten men for five months,
during which he had not received a farthing of pay. Consequently his gang
had struck work. Thus chatting we followed the cleared path leading up the
right bank of the little Akankon creek: now dry, it is navigable for
canoes during the rains, and falls into the Ancobra under a good corduroy
bridge near the landing-ramp. A line of posts showed the levels which had
been carefully marked by Cameron. It was a pleasure to see the bed; it had
been scraped in many places by the gold-washer, and it promises an ample
harvest when properly worked. We left on the left hand Safahin Sensense's
village, a cluster of huts surrounded by bananas; we crossed the shallow
head of the creek, all a swamp during the rains; we walked up a dwarf
slope, and after half an hour we found ourselves at 'Granton.'
The position of Granton is not happily chosen. Though the hill-side faces
south it is beyond reach of the sea-breeze; the damp and wooded depression
breeds swarms of sand-flies, and being only forty feet above the river, it
is reeking hot. The thermometer about noon never showed less than 92º
(F.), and often rose to 96º; in the Rains it falls to 72º, and the nights
are cold with damp. It will be a question which season will here prove the
safest for working. On the coast I should say the Rains; in the higher
lands about the Effuenta mine I am told that the Dries must be preferred.
Granton is, or was, composed of eight tenements disposed to form a hollow
square. Five of them are native cages of frond and thatch, which I should
have preferred on a second visit. The rest are planks brought from Europe,
good carpentry-work, and raised a little off the ground. Unfortunately the
bulkheads are close above, instead of being latticed for draught. The
items are two boxes--sleeping-room and store-room--with a larger lodging
of four rooms which sadly wants a flying-roof. The offices are kept in
good order by the penniless caretaker, who has been left entirely without
supplies, and who is obliged to borrow our ink-bottles.
We lost no time in visiting the 'Akankon' reef, a word appropriately
meaning 'abandoned' or 'left alone.' The people, however, understand it in
the sense that, when a miner has taken possession of the ground, and has
shown a right to it, his fellows leave him to work and betake themselves
elsewhere. Immediately behind the huts we came upon a broad streak
cochineal-red, except where tarnished by oxygen, where it looked
superficially like ochre. The strike ran parallel with the quartz-reef,
north 5º east (true). Cameron had broken some of the stone into chips,
subjected it to the blow-pipe, and obtained bright globules of
quicksilver. Veins of sulphide of mercury, cinnabar, or vermilion have
been found in other parts of the Protectorate: we suspected their presence
at Apatim, and collected specimens, still to be assayed. The natives have
an idea that when 'the gold turns white' it is uncanny to work the place;
moreover, silver is always removed from the person when miners approach
the gold-diggings. I should explain the phenomenon by the presence of
A good road, with side-drains, running about half a mile to the north, has
been kept open by the care-taker. To its right is a manner of hillock,
evidently an old plantation, in some places replanted. From the top a view
to the west shows three several ridges, the Akankon proper, Ijimunbukai,
and Agunah, blue in the distance. Northwards the Akankon hog's-back is
seen sweeping riverwards from north to north-east, rising to the hill
Akankon-bukah. Here Mr. Amondsen, a Danish sailor long employed in
Messieurs Swanzy's local sailing craft, and lately sent out by the
Company, informed me that he proposed to transfer the quarters for
European employes. He has, however, I am told, changed his mind and built
upon 'Plantation Hillock.' On the left or western side of the road the
Akankon ridge is subtended by a hollow, the valley of a streamlet in rainy
weather. This supply, which can easily be made perennial, will greatly
facilitate washing. The highway ended in a depression, where stood the
deserted 'Krumen's quarters.' The only sign of work was a peculiar
cross-cut made by Mr. Cornish, C.E., one of the engineers.
From this point, turning abruptly from north to west, we took the steep
narrow path which climbs the Akankon ridge, rising 78 feet above the
river. A few paces led us to the prospecting shaft, a native pit squared
and timbered by Mr. Cornish. He was assisted by Mr. James B. Ross,
'practical miner, working manager, and mine-owner for the last twenty
years in Queensland, Australia.' He thus describes himself in the very
able report which he sent to his company; and I am glad to hear that he
has returned to the Gold Coast. The shaft, 40 feet from 'the outcrop,' and
50 from the hill-base, is bottomed at the depth of 52 feet. Unfortunately
it is only box-timbered, and much of the woodwork was shaken down by the
blasts. The sinking through stiff clay, stained with iron, cobalt,
manganese, and cinnabar, was reported easy. But where the hanging and foot
walls should have been, fragments of clay, iron, and mica-slate showed
that the former lie still deeper. My companion proposed a descent into the
shaft by bucket and windlass. I declined, greatly distrusting such
deserted pits, especially in this region, where they appear unusually
liable to foul. Two days afterwards a Kruboy went down and was brought to
grass almost insensible from the choke-damp; his hands clenched the rope
so tightly that their grip was hard to loose.
We then mounted to 'the outcrop' near the ridge-summit, 100 yards
north-north-east. This reef-crest is a tongue of quartz and quartzite
veining grey granite: it was found dug out and cleared all round by the
people. Mr. Cornish had contented himself with splitting off a fragment by
a shot or two.
When the whole hill shall have been properly washed, the contained reefs
will present this wall-like appearance. The dimensions are ten feet long
by the same height and half that thickness, and the slope shows an angle
of 40º. We passed onwards to the top of the ridge, winding among the pits
and round holes sunk by the native miners in order to work the casing of
the reef. One of these, carefully measured, showed 82 feet. About sixty
yards to the north-north-east we reached the crest of what Mr. Ross calls
'Ponsonby Hill.' He notices that the strike of the quartz, which shows
visible gold, is from north-north-east to south-south-west, and its
underlie to the south-east is at the ratio of one inch in twelve. Cameron
found that near the head of the descent, 120 feet to the plain below,
three, and perhaps four lodes meet. The true bed, with a measured
thickness of 157 feet, strikes north 22º east, the western 355º, and the
eastern north 37º east (true). All radiate from one point, a knot which
gives 'great expectations.' The natives have opened large man-holes in
search of loose gold, and here, tradition says, many nuggets have been
found. A greater number will come to light when the miners shall dig the
'blind creek' to the east, and when the roots of the secular trees
crowning the summit shall be laid bare by the hose. I would wash down and
sluice the whole of the Akankon ridge.
Next day we proceeded to inspect two other reefs lying to the south-west
and to the south-east. The first, Asan-kuma(?), lies a few yards from
Granton, on the left of the path leading to our landing-place. The ground
was covered with deep bush, and painfully infested with the _Nkran_, or
_enkran_, [Footnote: _Anglice_ the 'driver,' a small black formica which
bites severely, clears out houses, destroys the smaller animals, and has,
it is said, overpowered and destroyed hunters when, torpid with fatigue,
they have fallen asleep in the bush. The same horrible end, being eaten
alive, atom by atom, has befallen white traders whose sickness prevented
their escape. 'Accra,' which calls itself Ga, is known to the Oji-speaking
peoples as 'Enkran,' and must be translated 'Land of Drivers,' not of
White Ants.] which marched in detached but parallel lines. It rises gently
in slopes of yellow clay towards the west, and doubtless it covers
quartz-reefs, as the lay is the usual meridional. The talus, pitted with
the shallow pans called 'women's washings,' shows signs of hard work,
probably dating from the days when every headman had his gang of 'pawns'
and slaves. Rising at the head of the creek, itself a natural gold-sluice,
its bed and banks can carry any number of flumes, which would deposit
their precious burden in cisterns near the river. I need hardly say they
must be made movable, so as to raise their level above the inundation.
Here the one thing wanted would be a miner accustomed to 'hydraulicking'
in California or British Columbia, Australia or South Africa. I hope that
the work will not be placed in inexperienced hands, whose blunders of
ignorance will give the invaluable and infallible process a bad name.
Retracing our steps, we made the chief Sensense's village, and persuaded
him to guide us. The short cut led through a forest and a swamp, which
reeked with nauseating sulphuretted hydrogen. We avoided it on return by a
_detour_. After a short hour's walk we ascended a banana-grown hillock,
upon which lay the ruins of the little mining-village Abeseba. A few paces
further, through a forest rich in gamboge and dragon's blood (not the _D.
draco_), in rubber and in gutta-percha (?), where well-laden lime-trees
gave out their perfume, placed us upon the great south-eastern reef. It
was everywhere drilled with pits, and we obtained fine specimens from one
which measured twenty feet deep. Several of them were united by rude and
dangerous tunnels. I have heard of these galleries being pierced in other
places; but the process is not common, and has probably been copied from
On March 1 was held a formal palaver of headmen and elders. The Akankon
concession had been bought by Messieurs Bonnat and Wyatt from Sensense of
the fetish, whose ancestors, he declared, had long ruled the whole
country. The rent, they say, was small--$4 per mensem and 15 pereguins
(135_l_. [Footnote: Assuming at 9_l_. the pereguin, which others reduce at
8_l_. and others raise to 10_l_.]) per annum--when operations began. I
have heard these gentlemen blamed, and very unjustly, for buying so cheap
and selling so dear--17,000_l_. in cash and 33,000_l_. in shares. But the
conditions were well worth the native's acceptance; and, if he be
satisfied, no one can complain. The apparently large amount included the
expenses of 'bringing out' the mine; and these probably swallowed a half.
When Sensense received his pay, a host of rival claimants started up. In
these lands there is no law against trespass; wherever a plantation is
deserted the squatter may occupy it, and popular opinion allows him and
his descendants the permanent right of using, letting, or selling it. I do
not think, however, that this rule would apply to a white man.
Sensense's claims were contested by three chiefs--Kofi Blay-chi, Kwako
Bukari, who brought an acute advocate, Ebba of Axim, and Kwako Jum, a fine
specimen of the sea-lawyer; this bumptious black had pulled down the board
which marked the Abeseba reef, and had worked the pits to his own profit.
After many meetings, of which the present was our last, the litigants
decided that hire and 'dashes' should be shared by only two, Sensense and
Kofi Blay-chi. Energetic Jum, finding his pretensions formally ignored,
jumped up and at once set out to 'enter a protest' in legal form at Axim.
The crowd of notables present affixed their marks, which, however, they by
no means connected with the 'sign of the Cross.' We witnessed the
document, and a case of trade-gin concluded an unpleasant business that
threatened the Apatim as well as the Akankon concession. I repeat what I
have before noted: too much care cannot be taken when title to ground in
Africa is concerned. And a Registration Office is much wanted at
head-quarters; otherwise we may expect endless litigation and the advent
of the London attorney. Moreover, the people are fast learning foreign
ideas. Sensense, for instance, is nephew (sister's son) to Blay-chi, which
relationship in Black-land makes him the heir: meanwhile his affectionate
uncle works upon the knowledge that this style of succession does not hold
good in England.
The eventful evening ended with a ball, which demanded another
distribution of gin. The dance was a compound affair. The Krumen had their
own. Forming an Indian file for attack, they carried bits of board instead
of weapons; and it was well that they did so, the warlike performance
causing immense excitement. The Apollonians preferred wide skirts and the
_pas seul_ of an amatory nature; it caused shrieks of laughter, and at
last even the women and wees could not prevent joining in the sport. Years
ago I began to collect notes upon the dances of the world; and the
desultory labour of some months convinced me that an exhaustive monograph,
supposing such thing possible, would take a fair slice out of a man's
life. I learnt, however, one general rule--that all the myriad forms of
dancing originally express only love and war, in African parlance
'woman-palaver' and 'land-palaver.' However much the 'quiet grace of high
refinement' may disguise original significance, Nature will sometimes
return despite the pitchfork; witness a _bal de l'Opera_ in the palmy days
of the Second Empire.
The Kruman ball ended in a battle royal. The results were muzzles swollen
and puffed out like those of mandrills, and black eyes--that is to say,
blood-red orbits where the skin had been abraded by fist and stick. As
they applied to us for justice and redress, we administered it, after
'seeing face and back,' or hearing both sides, by a general cutting-off of
the gin-supply and a temporary stoppage of 'Sunday-beef.'
I cannot leave this rich and unhappy Akankon mine without a few
reflections; it so admirably solves the problem 'how _not_ to do it.' The
concession was negotiated in 1878. In April 1881 Cameron proceeded to open
operations, accompanied by the grantee and four Englishmen, engineers and
miners. He was, however, restricted to giving advice, and was not
permitted to command. The results, as we have seen, were a round shaft
made square and a cross-cut which cut nothing. As little more appeared
likely to be done, and harmony was not the order of the day, my companion
sent the party home in June 1881, and followed it himself shortly
afterwards. Since that time the Company has been spending much money and
making _nil_. The council-room has been a barren battle-field over a
choice of superintendents and the properest kind of machinery, London-work
being pitted, for 'palm-oil' in commission-shape, against provincial work.
And at the moment I write (May 1, 1882), when 7,000_l_. have been spent or
wasted, the shares, 10_s._ in the pound paid up, may be bought for a
quarter. I can only hope that Mr. Amondsen, who met me at Axim, may follow
my suggestions and send home alluvial gold.
Cameron's most sensible advice concerning the local establishment required
for Akankon was as follows:--
He laid down the total expenditure at 21,000_l_. per annum, including
expenses in England. This sum would work 100 tons per diem with 350 hands
(each at 1_s_. hire and 3_d_. subsistence-money) and sixteen cooks and
servants. The staff would consist of six officers. The manager should draw
800_l_. (not 1,200_l_.), and the surgeon, absolutely necessary in case of
accidents, 450_l_. with rations. This is the pay of Government, which does
not allow subsistence. The reduction-officer and the book-keeper are rated
at 500_l_., and the superintendent of works and the head-miner each at
240_l_. The pay of carpenters and other mechanics, who should know how to
make small castings, would range from 180_l_. to 150_l_. The first native
clerk and the store-keeper would be paid 100_l_.; the time-keeper, with
three assistants, 70_l_. and 65_l_. The manager requires office,
sitting-room, and bedroom, and the medico a dispensary; the other four
would have separate sleeping-places and a common parlour. Each room would
have its small German stove for burning mangrove-fuel; and a fire-engine
should be handy on every establishment. All the white employes would mess
together, unless it be found advisable to make two divisions. The house
would be of the usual pitch-pine boarding on piles, like those of Lagos,
omitting the common passage or gallery, which threatens uncleanness; and
the rooms might be made gay with pictures and coloured prints. The natives
would build bamboo-huts.
Cameron, well knowing what _ennui_ in Africa means, would send out a
billiard-table and a good lathe: he also proposed a skittle- or
bowling-alley, a ground for lawn-tennis under a shed, an ice-machine and
one for making soda-water. Each establishment would have its library, a
good atlas, a few works of reference, and treatises on mining, machinery,
and natural history. The bulk would be the cheap novels (each 4_d_.) in
which weary men delight. In addition to the 'Mining Journal,' the
'Illustrated,' and the comics, local and country papers should be sent
out; exiles care more for the 'Little Pedlington Courant' than for the
'journal of the City,' the 'Times.'
Gardening should be encouraged. The vegetables would be occros
(_hibiscus_) and brinjalls, lettuce, tomatoes, and marrow; yam and sweet
potatoes, pumpkins, peppers and cucumbers, whose seeds yield a
fine-flavoured salad-oil not sold in London. The fruits are grapes and
pine-apples, limes and oranges, mangoes and melons, papaws and a long list
of native growth. Nor should flowers be neglected, especially the pink and
the rose. The land, fenced in for privacy, would produce in abundance
holeus-millet, rice, and lucern for beasts. There would be a
breeding-ground for black cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, and a
poultry-yard protected against wild cats.
The routine-day would be as follows: At 5.15 A.M. first bell, and notice
to 'turn out;' at 5.40 the 'little breakfast' of tea or coffee,
bread-and-butter, or toast, ham and eggs. The five working-hours of
morning (6-11 A.M.) to be followed by a substantial _dejeuner a la
fourchette_ at 11.30. Each would have a pint of beer or claret, and be
allowed one bottle of whisky a week. Mr. Ross, the miner, preferred
breakfast at 8 A.M., dinner at 1 P.M., and 'tea' at 5 P.M.; but these
hours leave scant room for work.
The warning-bell, at 12.45 P.M., after 1 hr. 45 min. rest, would prepare
the men to fall in, and return to work at 1 P.M.; and the afternoon-spell
would last till 5.30. Thus the working-day contains 9 hrs. 30 min. Dinner
would be served at any time after 6 P.M., and the allowance of liquor be
that of the breakfast. An occasional holiday to Axim should be allowed, in
order to correct the monotony of jungle-life.
TO TUMENTO, THE 'GREAT CENTRAL DEPOT.'
March 4 was a sore trial to us both. We 'went down' on the same day and
by our own fault. We had given the sorely-abused climate no chance; nor
have we any right to abuse it instead of blaming ourselves. The stranger
should begin work quietly in these regions; living, if possible, near the
coast and gradually increasing his exercise and exposure. Within three
months, especially if he be lucky enough to pass through a mild
'seasoning' of ague and fever, he becomes 'acclimatised,' the consecrated
term for a European shorn of his redundant health, strength, and vigour.
Medical men warn new comers, and for years we had read their warnings,
against the 'exhaustion of the physical powers of the body from
over-exertion.' They prescribe gentle constitutionals to men whose hours
must do the work of days. It is like ordering a pauper-patient generous
diet in the shape of port and beef-steaks; for the safe system, which
takes a quarter of a year, would have swallowed up all our time.
Consequently we worked too hard. Our mornings and evenings were spent in
collecting, and our days in boating, or in walking instead of hammocking.
Indeed, we placed, by way of derision, the Krumen in the fashionable
vehicle. And we had been too confident in our past 'seasoning;' we had
neglected such simple precautions as morning and evening fires and
mosquito-bars at night; finally, we had exposed ourselves somewhat
recklessly to sickly sun and sweltering swamp. Four days on the burning
hill-side completed the work. My companion was prostrated by a bilious
attack, I by ague and fever.
'I thought you were at least fever-proof,' says the candid friend, as if
one had compromised oneself.
Alas! no: a man is not fever-proof in Africa till he takes permanent
possession of his little landed estate. Happily we had our remedies at
hand. There was no medico within hail; and, had there been, we should have
hesitated to call him in. These gentlemen are Government servants, who add
to their official salaries (400_l._ per annum) by private practice. For
five visits to a sick Kruboy six guineas have been charged; 5_l._ for
tapping a liver and sending two draughts and a box of pills, and 37_l._
10_s._ for treating a mild tertian which lasted a week. The late M. Bonnat
cost 80_l._ for a fortnight. Such fees should attract a host of talented
young practitioners from England; at any rate they suggest that each mine
or group of mines should carry its own surgeon.
Cameron applied himself diligently to chlorodyne, one of the two
invaluables on the Coast. We had a large store, but unfortunately the
natives have learnt its intoxicating properties, and during our absence
from Axim many bottles had disappeared. I need hardly say that good locks
and keys are prime necessaries in these lands, and that they are mostly
I addrest myself to Warburg's drops (_Tinctura Warburgii_), a preparation
invaluable for travellers in the tropics and in the lower temperates. The
action appears to be chiefly on the liver through the skin. The more a
traveller sees, the firmer becomes his conviction that health means the
good condition of this rebellious viscus, and that its derangement causes
the two great pests of Africa, dysentery and fever. Indeed, he is apt to
become superstitious upon the subject, and to believe that a host of
diseases--gout and rheumatism, cholera and enteric complaints--result
from, and are to be cured or relieved only by subduing, hepatic
disturbances. My 'Warburg' was procured directly from the inventor, not
from the common chemist, who makes the little phialful for 9_d._ and sells
it for 4_s._ 6_d_. Some years ago a distinguished medical friend persuaded
Dr. Warburg, once of Vienna, now of London, to reveal his secret, in the
forlorn hope of a liberal remuneration by the Home Government. Needless to
say the reward is to come. I first learnt to appreciate this specific at
Zanzibar in 1856, where Lieut.-Colonel Hamerton used it successfully in
the most dangerous remittents and marsh-fevers. Cases of the febrifuge
were sent out to the Coast during the Ashanti war for the benefit of army
and navy: the latter, they say, made extensive use of it. I have
persistently recommended it to my friends and the public; and, before
leaving England in 1879, I wrote to the 'Times,' proposing that all who
owe (like myself) their lives to Dr. Warburg should join in relieving his
straitened means by a small subscription. At this moment (June 1882)
measures are being taken in favour of the inventor, and I can only hope
that the result will be favourable.
The 'drops' are composed of the aromatic, sudorific and diaphoretic drugs
used as febrifuges by the faculty before the days of 'Jesuits' bark,' to
which a small quantity of quinine is added. Thus the tincture is
successful in many complaints besides fevers. Evidently skilful
manipulation is an important factor in the sum of its success. Dr. Warburg
has had the experience of the third of a century, and the authorities
could not do better than to give him a contract for making his own cure.
The enemy came on with treacherous gentleness--a slight rigor, a dull pain
in the head, and a local irritation. 'I have had dozens of fevers, and
dread them little more than a cold,' said Winwood Reade; indeed, the
English catarrh is quite as bad as the common marsh-tertian of the Coast.
The normal month of immunity had passed; I was prepared for the inevitable
ordeal, and I flattered myself that it would be a mild ague, at worst the
affair of a week, Altro!
Next morning two white men, owning that they felt 'awful mean,' left
Granton, walked down to Riverside House, and at 8 A.M. embarked upon the
hapless _Effuenta_. The stream rapidly narrowed, and its aspect became
wilder. Dead trees, anchored by the bole-base, cumbered the bed, and dykes
and bars of slate, overlaid by shales of recent date, projected from
either side. The land showed no sign of hills, but the banks were steep at
this season, in places here and there based on ruddy sand and exposing
strips of rude conglomerate, the _cascalho_ of the Brazil. This pudding is
composed of waterworn pebbles, bedded in a dark clayey soil which crumbles
under the touch. On an arenaceous strip projecting from the western edge
the women were washing and panning where the bottom of the digging was
below that of the river. This is an everyday sight on the Ancobra, and it
shows what scientific 'hydraulicking' will do. After six hours of
steaming, not including three to fill the boiler, we halted at Enframadie,
the Fanti Frammanji, meaning 'wind cools,' that is, falls calm. It is a
wretched split heap of huts on the left bank, one patch higher pitched
than the other, to avoid the floods; the tenements are mere cages, the
bush lying close to the walls, and supplies are unprocurable. In fact, the
further we go the worse we fare as regards mere lodgings; yet the site of
our present halt is a high bank of yellow clay, which suggests better
things. There is no reason why this miserable hole should not be made the
On March 4 we set out in the 'lizard's sun,' as the people call the
morning rays; our vehicle was the surf-boat, escorted by the big canoe.
Enframadie is the terminus of launch-navigation; the snags in the Dries
stop the way, and she cannot stem the current of the Rains. The Ancobra
now resembles the St. John's or Prince's River in the matter of
timber-floorwork and _chevaux de frise_ of tree-corpses disposed in every
possible direction. After half an hour we paddled past the 'Devil's Gate,'
a modern name for an old and ugly feature. H.S.M.'s entrance (to home?) is
formed by black reefs and ridges projected gridiron-fashion from ledges on
either side almost across the stream, leaving a narrow _Thalweg_ so
shallow that the boatmen must walk and drag. During the height of the
floods it is sometimes covered for a few hours by forty feet of water,
rising and falling with perilous continuity.
Beyond 'Devil's Gate' a pleasant surprise awaited us. Mr. D. C. MacLennan,
manager of the Effuenta mine, [Footnote: The name was given by M. Dahse;
it is that of the first worker, Efuata, a woman born on Saturday (_Efua_),
and the third of a series of daughters (_ata_).] stopped his canoe to
greet us. He was justly proud of his charge--a box of amalgam weighing 15
lbs. and carrying eighty ounces of gold. It was to be retorted at home and
to be followed within a fortnight by a larger delivery, and afterwards by
monthly remittances. The precious case, which will give courage to so many
half-hearted shareholders, was duly embarked on the A.S.S. _Ambriz_
(Captain Crookes); and its successor, containing the produce of a hundred
tons, on the B. and A. _Benguela_ (Captain Porter). Consequently the
papers declared that Effuenta was first in the field of results. This is
by no means the case. As early as November 1881 Mr. W. E. Crocker, of
Crockerville, manager of the important Wasa, (Wassaw) mining-property,
sent home gold--amalgam, and black sand [Footnote: I have before noticed
this 'golden sea-sand.' It has lately been found, the papers tell me, on
the coast about Cape Commerell, British Columbia. A handful, taken from a
few inches below the surface, shows glittering specks of 'float-gold,'
scales so fine that it was difficult to wash them by machinery. Mem. This
is what women do every day on the Gold Coast. The _Colonist_ says that a
San Francisco company has at length hit upon the contrivance. It consists
of six drawers or layers of plates punched with holes about half an inch
in diameter, and covered with amalgam. The gold-sand is 'dumped in;' and
the water, turned on the top-plate, sets all in motion: the sand falls
from plate to plate, leaving the free loose gold which has attached itself
to the amalgam, and very little remains to be caught by the sixth plate.
So simple a process is eminently fitted for the Gold Coast.]--a total of
sixty-eight ounces to twenty-five tons.
After an hour's paddling we sighted a few canoes and surf-boats under a
raised clay-bank binding the stream on the left. This was Tumento
(Tomento), our destination; the word means 'won't go,' as the rock is
supposed to say to the water. The aspect of the Ancobra becomes gloomy and
menacing. The broad bed shrinks to a ditch, almost overshadowed by its
sombre walls of many-hued greens; and the dead tree-trunks of the channel,
ghastly white in the dull brown shade, look to the feverish imagination
like the skeleton hands and fingers of monstrous spectres outspread to bar
We landed and walked a few yards to the settlement. A 'Steam-launch'
sounds grandiose, and so does a 'Great Central Depot'--seen on paper. And
touching this place I was told a tale. Some time ago two young French
employes, a doctor and an engineer, were sent up to the mines, and fell
victims to the magical influence of the name. Quoth Jules to Alphonse, 'My
friend, we will land; we will call a _fiacre_; we will drive to the local
Three Provincial Brothers; we will eat a succulent repast, and then for a
few happy hours we will forget Blackland and these ignoble blacks.' So
they toiled up the stiff and slippery slope, and found a scatter of
crate-huts crowning a bald head of yellow argil. Speechless with rage and
horror at the sight of the 'Depot,' they rushed headlong into the canoe,
returned without a moment's delay to Axim, and, finding a steamer in the
bay, incontinently went on board, flying the Dark Continent for ever.
We housed ourselves in Messieurs Swanzy and Crocker's establishment at
Tumento. The climate appeared wholesome; the river brought with it a
breeze, and we were evidently entering the region of woods, between the
mangrove-swamps of the coast and the grass-lands of the interior.
At Tumento I met, after some twenty years, Mr. Dawson, of Cape Coast
Castle. The last time it was at Dahoman Agbome, in company with the Rev.
Mr. Bernasko, who died (1872) of dropsy and heart-disease. He is now in
the employment of the Takwa, or French Company, and his local knowledge
and old experience had suggested working the mines to M. Bonnat. Some
forty years ago the English merchants of 'Cabo Corso' used to send their
people hereabouts to dig; and more recently Mr. Carter had spent, they
say, 4,000_l_. upon the works. He was followed by another roving
Englishman, who was not more successful. The liberation of pawns and other
anti-abolitionist 'fads' had so raised the wage-rate that the rich placers
were presently left to the natives. We exchanged reminiscences, and he at
once started down stream for Axim.
As we were unable to work, Mr. Grant proceeded to inspect the concession
called 'Insimankao,' the Asamankao of M. Zimmermann. It is the name of the
village near which Sir Charles Macarthy was slain: our authorities
translated it 'I've got you,' as the poor man said to the gold, or the
cruel chief to the runaway serf. Mr. Dawson, who is uncle by marriage to
Mr. Grant, had also suggested this digging. Our good manager, now an adept
at prospecting, found the way very foul and the place very rich. It was
afterwards, as will be seen, visited by Mr. Oliver Pegler and lastly by
Amongst the few new faces seen at Tumento were two 'Krambos,' Moslems and
writers of charms and talismans. A 'Patent Improved Metallic Book,' which
looked in strange company, contained their 'fetish' and apparently
composed their travelling kit. Both hailed from about Tinbukhtu, but their
Arabic was so imperfect that I could make nothing of their route. These
men acquire considerable authority amongst the pagan negroes, who expect
great things from their 'grigris.' They managed to find us some eggs when
no one else could. This Hibernian race of Gold Coast blacks had eaten or
sold all its hens, and had kept only the loud-crowing cocks. The presence
of these two youths convinced me that there will be a Mohammedan movement
towards the Gold Coast. A few years may see thousands of them, with
mosques by the dozen established upon the sea-board. The 'revival of
El-Islam' shows itself nowhere so remarkably as in Africa.
At Tumento Cameron found himself growing rapidly worse. He suffered from
pains in the legs, and owned that even when crossing Africa during his
three years of wild life he remembered nothing more severe. In my own case
there was a severe tussle between Dr. Warburg and Fever-fiend. The attacks
had changed from a tertian to a quotidian, and every new paroxysm left me,
like the 'possessed' of Holy Writ after the expulsion of 'devils,' utterly
prostrate. During the three days' struggle I drained two bottles of
'Warburg.' The admirable drug won the victory, but it could not restore
sleep or appetite.
Seeing how matters stood, and how easily bad might pass to worse, I
proposed the proceeding whereby a man lived to fight another day. We were
also falling short of ready money, and the tornadoes were becoming matters
of daily occurrence. After a long and anxious pow-wow Cameron accepted,
and it was determined to run down to the coast, and there collect health
and strength for a new departure. No sooner said than done. On March 8 we
left Tumento in our big canoe, passed the night at Riverside House, and
next evening were inhaling, not a whit too soon, the inspiriting
sea-whiffs of Axim.
The rest of my tale is soon told.
Cameron recovered health within a week, and resolved to go north again.
His object was to inspect for the second time the working mines about
Takwa, and to note their present state; also to make his observations and
to finish his map. He did not look in full vigour; and, knowing his
Caledonian tenacity of purpose, I made him promise not to run too much
risk by over-persistence. After a _diner d'Axim_ and discussing a
plum-pudding especially made for our Christmas by a fair and kind friend
at Trieste, he set out Ancobra-wards on March 16. He would have no Krumen;
so our seven fellows, who refused to take service in the Effuenta mine,
were paid off and shipped for 'we country.' The thirty hands ordered in
mid-January appeared in mid-March, and were made over to Mr. MacLennan. My
companion set out with faithful Joe, Mr. Dawson the stuffer, and his dog
Nero. I did not hear of him or from him till we met at Madeira.
My case was different. I could not recover strength like my companion, who
is young and who has more of vital force to expend. This consideration
made me fearful of spoiling his work: a sick traveller in the jungle is a
terrible encumbrance. I therefore proposed to run south and to revisit my
old quarters, 'F.Po' and the Oil Rivers, in the B. and A. s.s. _Loanda_
(Captain Brown), the same which would pick up my companion after his
return to Axim.
Life on the coast was not unpleasant, despite the equinoctial gales which
broke on March 19 and blew hard till March 25. I had plenty of occupation
in working up my notes, and I was lucky enough to meet all the managers of
the working mines who were passing through Axim. From Messieurs Crocker
(Wasa), MacLennan (Effuenta), Creswick (Gold Coast Company), and Bowden
(Takwa [Footnote: Alias the African Gold Coast Company, whose shareholders
are French and English. It has lately combined with the Mine d'Or
d'Abowassu (Abosu), the capital being quoted at five millions of francs.
Thus the five working mines are reduced to four, while the 'Izrah' and
others are coming on (May 1882).]) I had thus an opportunity of gathering
much hearsay information, and was able to compare opinions which differed
widely enough. I also had long conversations with Mr. A. A. Robertson,
lately sent out as traffic-manager to the Izrah, and with Mr. Amondsen,
the Danish sailor, then _en route_ to the hapless Akankon mine. Mr. Paulus
Dahse, who was saved from a severe sickness by Dr. Roulston and by his
brother-in-law, Mr. Wulfken, eventually became my fellow-passenger to
Madeira, where I parted from him with regret. During long travel and a
residence of years in various parts of the Gold Coast he has collected a
large store of local knowledge, and he is most generous in parting with
But, when prepared to embark on board the _Loanda_, which was a week late,
my health again gave way, and I found that convalescence would be a long
affair. Madeira occurred to me as the most restful of places, and there I
determined to await my companion. The A.S.S. _Winnebah_ (Captain Hooper)
anchored at Axim on March 28; the opportunity was not to be lost, and on
the same evening we steamed north, regaining health and strength with
The A.S.S. _Winnebah_ could not be characterised as 'comfortable.' Mr.
Purser Denny did his best to make her an exception to the Starvation rule,
but even he could not work miracles. She is built for a riverboat, and her
main cabin is close to the forecastle. She was crowded with Kruboys, and
all her passengers were 'doubled up.' A full regiment of parrots was on
board, whose daily deaths averaged twenty to thirty. The birds being worth
ten shillings each, our engines were driven as they probably had never
been driven before, and the clacking of the safety-valve never ceased.
The weather, however, was superb. We caught the north-east Trade a little
north of Cape Palmas, and kept it till near Grand Canary. On April 13,
greatly improved by the pleasant voyage and by complete repose, I rejoiced
once more in landing at the fair isle Madeira.
And now _Cameronus loquitur_.
TO INSIMANKAO AND THE BUTABUE RAPIDS.
Leaving Axim on March 16, I slept at Kumprasi and remarked a great change
in the bar of the Ancobra River. During the dry season it had been
remarkably good, but now it began to change for the worse; and soon it
will become impassable for three or four days at a time. My surf-boat,
when coming across it, shipped three seas. On my return down the river
(April 15) the whole sand-bank to the west of the mouth had been washed
away, forming dangerous shoals; the sea was furiously breaking and
'burning,' as the old Dutch say, and the waves which entered the river
were so high that canoes were broken and boats were seriously damaged.
I stored my goods in the surf-boat, and set out in our big canoe early
next morning. A string of dug-outs was next passed, loaded with
palm-kernels, maize, and bananas; it appeared as if they were all bound
for the market at Axim. I took specimens of swish and stone from 'Ross's
Hill.' The top soil showed good signs of gold, and the grains were
tolerably coarse. Here a floating power-engine would soon bare the reefs
and warp up the swamp. Messieurs Allan and Plisson, who were floating down
in a surf-boat, gave me the news that the steam-launch _Effuenta_ had at
last succumbed in the struggle for life.
I landed at Akromasi, a village where the true bamboo-cane grows, and
found the soil to be a grey sandy clay; there were many 'women's washings'
near the settlement. Shortly before reaching the Ahenia River we saw the
landing-place for the valuable 'Apatim concession.' They told me on
enquiry that the stream is deep and has been followed up in a surf-boat
for a mile or two. It may therefore prove of use to Mr. Irvine's property,
At half-past five that evening I reached Akankon, and slept well at
'Riverside House.' Mr. Morris had begun levelling the ground and building
new quarters for general use. I gave him some slips of bamboo and roots of
Bahama-grass, as that planted had grown so well.
Next morning we got under way early (6.50) and proceeded up the river. The
canoe-men, seeing pots of palm-wine on the banks, insisted upon landing to
slake their eternal thirst. The mode in which the liquor is sold shows a
trustfulness on the part of the seller which may result from firm belief
in his 'fetish.' Any passer-by can drink wine _a discretion_, and is
expected to put the price in a calabash standing hard by. Beyond the
Yengeni River I saw for the first and only time purple clay-slate
overlying quartz. Collecting here and there specimens of geology, and
suffering much from the sun, for I still was slightly feverish, I reached
the 'great central depot' at 4 P.M.
Tumento was found by observation to lie in N. lat. 4º 12' 20" and in W.
long. (Gr.) 2º 12' 25". Consequently it is only eighteen direct
geographical miles from the sea, the mouth of the Ancobra being in W. lat.
2º 54'. Some make the distance thirty and others sixty miles. The latter
figure would apply only by doubling the windings of the bed.
This ascent of the river convinced me more than ever that Enframadie is
the proper terminus of its navigation. I passed the next day at Tumento,
which proved to be only half the distance usually supposed along the
Ancobra bed from its mouth. The time was spent mainly in resting and
doctoring myself. At night the rats, holding high carnival, kept me awake
till 3 A.M.; and I heard shots being continually fired from a native mine
whose position was unknown. The natives now know how to bore and blast;
consequently thefts of powder, drills, and fuses become every day more
common. My first visit (March 20) was to the Insimankao concession. I left
the surf-boat behind, and put my luggage into small canoes hired at
Tumento, myself proceeding in the large canoe. We shoved off from the
beach at 8.50 A.M. The Ancobra had now, after the late rains, a fair
current instead of being almost dead water; otherwise it maintained the
same appearance. The banks are conglomerate, grey clay and slate; gravel,
sand, shingle, and pebbles of reddish quartz, bedded in earth of the same
colour, succeeding one another in ever-varying succession. Only two reefs,
neither of them important, projected from the sides.
After an hour and a half paddling we reached the Fura, which I should call
a creek; it is not out of the mangrove-region. The bed is set in high,
steep banks submerged during the rains; and the narrowness of the mouth,
compared with the upper part, made it run, after the late showers, into
the Ancobra like a mill-race. In fact, the paddlers were compelled to
track in order to make headway. After ten minutes (=200 yards) we reached
a landing-place, all jungle with rotting vegetation below. I do not think
that as a waterway the Fura Creek can be made of any practical use; but it
will be very valuable for 'hydraulicking.' Canoes and small surf-boats may
run down it at certain seasons, but the flow is too fast and the bed is
too full of snags and sawyers to be easily ascended.
At the landing-place I mounted my hammock and struck the path which runs
over level ground pretty thick with second-growth. The chief Bimfu, who
met me at Tumento, had broken his promise to guide me, and had neglected
to clear the way. On a largish creek which was nearly dry I saw a number
of 'women's washings.' Then we passed on the right a hillock seventy to
eighty feet high, where quartz showed in detached and weathered blocks.
Beyond it were native shafts striking the auriferous drift at a depth of
eight to ten feet. A few yards further on the usual washings showed that
the top soil is also worth working.
Another half-hour brought us to about a dozen native shafts in the usual
chimney shape. They were quite new and had been temporarily left on
account of the rise of the water, which was here twenty-four feet below
the surface. The top soil is of sandy clay, and the gold-containing
drifts, varying in thickness, they told me, from two to four feet,
consisted of quartz pebbles bedded in red loam. The general look of the
stratum and the country suggested an old lagoon.
An hour and a half of hammock brought me from the landing-place of the
Fura Creek to the village of Insimankao. Rain was falling heavily and
prevented all attempts at observation. The settlement is the usual group
of swish and bamboo box-huts nestling in the bush. A small clean
bird-cage, divided into two compartments, with standing bedstead, was
assigned to me. Next morning I walked to the Insimankao mine by a path
leading along, and in places touching, the bank of the Fura Creek, which
runs through the whole property. After thirty-three minutes we reached the
'marked tree.' Here the land begins to rise and forms the Insimankao Hill,
whose trend is to north-north-east. Mr. Walker calls it Etia-Kaah, or
Echia-Karah, meaning 'when you hear (of its fame) you will come.' It is
the usual mound of red clay, fairly wooded, and about 150 feet high; the
creek runs about 100 yards west of the pits. The reefs seemed to be almost
vertical, with a strike to the north-north-east; and the walls showed
slate, iron-oxide, and decomposed quartz. The main reef [Footnote: Mr. O.
Pegler (A.R.S.M.) describes it as a 'very powerful reef outcropping boldly
from a hill at a short distance from the native village, the strike being
north-north-east to south-south-west, and the vein having a great
inclination. At the crest of the hill it presents a massive appearance,
and is many feet in width--in some places between twenty and thirty feet.
This diminishes towards the native pits, and there the vein diverges into
two portions, both presenting a decomposed appearance, the casing on both
foot and hanging wall having a highly talcose character.' This engineer
also washed gold specks from the loose soil. Finally, he notes that the
massive quartz-outcrop is homogeneous and crystalline, giving only traces
of gold, but that the stone improves rapidly with depth.] was from eight
to ten feet thick, and I believe that there are other and parallel
formations. But the ground is very complicated, and for proper study I
should have required borings and cross-cuts.
There were two big rough pits called shafts. I descended into the deeper
one, which was fourteen to fifteen feet below ground. The walls would
repay washing on a large scale; and the look of the top soil reminded me
of the descriptions of old California and Australia when there were rushes
of miners to the gold-fields, carrying for all machinery a pick, a pan,
and a tin 'billy.'
The Insimankao concession contains 1,000 fathoms square; the measurements
being taken from a 'marked tree' on the north-western slope of the hill
with the long name. The position is N. lat. 5º 18' 15" and the long. W.
(Gr.) 2º 14' 03". West of the centre the Fura Creek receives a small
tributary. Mr. Walker took fair samples from the well-defined reef and the
outcropping boulders, whose strike is from north-north-east to
south-south-west. He notes that the land Egwira, which lies between Wasa
and Aowin, was long famous for its mining-industry, and that it appears in
old maps as a 'Republick rich in gold.' We heard of the Abenje mine on the
same reef, four to five miles east of Insimankao; and he declares that it
has been abandoned because the population is too scanty.
I left this mining property convinced that working it will pay well. The
only thing to be guarded against is overlapping the French concession of
Mankuma, which lies immediately to the east.
From the mine I walked back to the village, breakfasted, and returned in
the canoes to the sluice-like mouth of the Fura Greek. I then ascended the
Ancobra, in order to inspect the Butabue rapids, said to be the end of
canoe-navigation. We passed on the right a reef and a shallow of
conglomerate, washed out of the banks and forming a race; there is another
reef with its rip at Aroasu. In the early part of the afternoon we got to
the village of Ebiasu, which means 'not dark.' Here the equinoctial
showers began to fall heavily, and I was again obliged to sleep without
observations. The village is built upon a steep bank of yellow clay, with
rich red oxides; it stands forty feet above the present level, and yet at
times it is flooded out.
Leaving Ebiasu next morning, I found the banks of sand, clay, and small
pebbles beginning to shelve. We passed over slaty rocks in the bed; and
the depth of water was often not more than three feet. Women's washings
were seen on the left bank, and the river had risen after they had been
worked. We could not approach them on account of the reefs and the
current. The opposite bank, about five minutes further up, is of soft
sandstone; and here a native tunnel of forty to fifty feet had been run in
from the river to communicate with a shaft. My men were nervous about
leopards, and I had to encourage them by firing my rifle into the hole.
The normal formation continued, and here the land is evidently built by
the river; there are few hills, and the present direction of the bed has
been determined by the rocks and reefs, the outliers of the old true
coast. These features may have been lower than they are now, and owe their
present elevation to upheaval. Immature conglomerate--that is, a pudding
of pebbles and hardened clay--seems to have been deposited in the
synclinal curve of the bed-rock, principally slate. Overlying both are the
top soil and the sands, the latter often resembling the washed out
tailings of stamped rock.
Passing the village Abanfokru, I found myself amongst the extensive
concessions of the French, who have taken the alluvial grounds for washing
and working. M. Bonnat's map gives the approximate positions and
dimensions; and the several sites are laid down by M. Dahse. I shall have
more to say about this section on my return.
Navigation now becomes more intricate and difficult, owing to rocks and
reefs, rips and rapids. A large stony holm about mid-stream is called
Eduasim, meaning 'thief in river.' I need not repeat from my map the names
of the unimportant settlements. At the mouth of the Abonsa the bed widens
to nearly double, and the north-easterly direction shifts to due north.
This great drain, falling into the left bank, lies between five and six
miles above the Fura Creek. I shall have more to say about it when
describing my descent. Two miles further north brought us to the beginning
of the rapids, which apparently end the boat-navigation. The only canoes
are used for ferrying; I saw no water-traffic, and there were no longer
any fish-weirs. Moreover, the country has been deserted, I was told, since
the arrival of strangers. The natives have probably been treated with
little consideration. A quarter of an hour's hauling, all hands being
applied to the canoe, took us about fifty yards over the Impayim rapid,
whose fall is from four to five feet deep. Immediately after the Butabue
influent on the right bank the bed bends abruptly east, and we reached the
far-famed rapids of that name. Here the whole surface, as far up as the
eye can see, is a mass of rocks and of broken, surging water. The
vegetation of the banks, bound together by creepers, llianas, and rattans,
is peculiarly fine. I landed upon one of the rocks, sketched the Butabue,
whose name none could explain, and returned down stream to the 'great
central Depot,' Tumento.
I can say little about the River Ancobra above the rapids, except that it
resumes its course from the north-north-east and the north, apparently
guided by the hills. The sources are now only a few miles distant, but the
stream is unnavigable, and they must be reached on foot. The late M.
Bonnat walked up by a hunter's path, now killed out, to the ruins of Bush
Castle, which Jeekel calls Fort Ruyghaver. He there secured possession of
the rich Asaman mines, which the work was intended to defend. There is
some fetish there, and the place is known as the burial-ground of the
kings. I was also told that four or five marches off a _cache_ of
treasure, described to be large, had been made during the Ashanti-Gyaman
war, and had been defended by the usual superstitions. Fetish may have
lost much of its power on the coast; in the interior, however, it is still
strong, and few white men live long after being placed under its ban.
TO EFFUENTA, CROCKERVILLE, AND THE AJI BIPA HILL.
At Tumento the halt of a day (March 22) was necessary in order to hire
carriers and get ready for the march eastward. Here, too, I washed sundry
specimens of soft earth from various parts of the river-banks, finding
colour of gold in all except the grey clay. Our Mohammedan friends were
there; the eldest called upon me and was exceedingly civil, besides being
to a certain extent useful. For the hire of a shilling and two cakes of
Cavendish he found me eggs in a village some three miles off, and he ended
by writing me a 'safy,' which would bring me good luck in all my
undertakings. It consists of the usual Koranic quotations in black, and of
magic numbers in pink, ink.
Dr. Roulston and Mr. Higgins, the new District Commissioner for Takwa,
entered Tumento about 3 P.M. The carriers hired in addition to my
canoe-men would now be wanted, said the cunning old chief, for the
'Government man,' with whom he wished to stand well. As the porters had
received an advance of pay I objected to this proceeding. The fresh
arrivals had to find other hands, and were not very successful in the
search. Their detachment of twenty-five Haussa soldiers, who had escorted
to the coast Dr. Duke, the acting commissioner lately invalided, were sent
abroad in all directions to act press-gang, and the natural lawlessness of
the race came out strong. The force is injured by enlisting 'Haussas' who
are not Haussa at all; merely semi-savage and half-pagan slaves. On
detached duty they get quite out of hand; and they by no means serve to
make our Government popular. By the rules of the force they should never
be absent from head-quarters for more than six months; their transport
costs next to nothing, as they march by bush-paths. And yet they are kept
for years on outpost-duty, where it would require a Glover to discipline
them and to make them steady soldiers. They live by plunder. A private on
a shilling a day will eat three fowls, each worth 9_d_. to 10_d_., and
drink any taken amount of palm-wine. There are no means of punishment, or
even of securing a criminal; the colony cannot afford irons or handcuffs;
there is no prison, and a Haussa, placed under arrest in a bamboo-hut,
cuts his way out as easily as a rat from a bird-cage.
One of these men was accused of murdering a woman in one of the villages
on the way. His comrades brought in husbands, wives, and children
indiscriminately, not sparing even the chiefs. Bimfu, of Insimankao, was
among the number; next morning, however, he threw his pack, bolted to the
bush, and eventually reported his grievances to Axim. The second headman
of Tumento, when pressed, managed to secure a very small load. But as
payment is by weight, 6_d_. per 10 lbs. from the river to Effuenta, and no
subsistence is allowed, his gains were small in proportion; he received
for three days only 9_d_., the ordinary value of porter's rations.
Next day (March 23) we left Tumento at 7.30 A.M. The caravan consisted of
thirty-two men, all told--canoe-men from Axim, Tumento bearers, boatswain,
and my three body-servants. All were under the command of Joe the
Indefatigable, who formed a kind of body-guard of gun-carriers out of the
porters that carried the lightest packs. Mr. Dawson assisted me in
collecting; Paul prepared to shoulder a bed, and the boatswain was ordered
to catch butterflies. The cries of 'batli,' 'basky,' and 'bokkus' (bottle,
basket, and box) continually broke the silence of the bush and gladdened
the collector's ears. I was still able to dispense with the hammock.
In the first few minutes the path trends southwards; it then assumes and
keeps an easterly direction. Here is a water-parting: the many little
beds, mostly full of water, flow either north towards the Abonsa or south
and westwards to the Ancobra. They are divided by detached hills, or
rather oblong mounds, of the same formation as the beds; quartz, gravel,
and red clay, all disposed in the usual direction. Women's washings were
seen everywhere along the road, and in some places oozings of iron from
the soil heavily charged the streamlets. Some of the quartz-boulders were
coloured outside like porphyry by the oxide. About three-quarters of the
way from Tumento to Apankru is a hill rich in outcrops of quartz. I
believe it to be French property.
These rises and falls led over 7-1/2 direct geographical miles, usually
done in three hours, to Apankru, a second 'great central Depot.' The
village lies on the right bank of the Abonsa River, here some forty feet
high. It is composed almost entirely of the store-houses of the several
companies--(Gold Coast) Effuenta, and Swanzy's (English), the African Gold
Coast and Mines d'Or d'Aboassu [Footnote: At first I supposed the word to
be Abo-Wasa, or Stones of Wasa: it is simply Abosu, meaning 'on the
rock.'] (French). Only the latter use the Abonsa for transport purposes--I
think very unwisely. My descent of the stream will show all its dangers of
snags, rapids, and heavy currents. Here it rises high during the floods,
and sometimes it swamps the lower courtyards.
I put up at Mr. Crocker's establishment, which was, as usual, nice and
clean; and the officials went on to Effuenta. The native clerk took good
care of me, probably moved thereto by Mr. Joe, who addressed him, 'Here,
gib me key; I want house for _my_ master!' During the evening, in the
intervals of heavy rain, I obtained a latitude by Castor. Apankru lies in
north latitude 5º 13' 55", and its longitude (by calculation) is 0º 20' 6"
The next morning (March 24) was dark and threatening. At 6.30 A.M. we
struck into the path, a mere bush-track, the corduroys and bridges made by
the Swanzy house having completely disappeared. This want of public
feeling, of 'solidarity,' amongst the several mining companies should be
remedied with a strong hand. These men seem not to know that rivalry may
be good in buying palm-oil, but is the wrong thing in mining. Such a
jealousy assisted in making the Spanish proverb 'A silver mine brings
wretchedness; a gold mine brings ruin.' Even in England I have met with
unwise directors who told me, 'Oh, you must not say that, or people will
prefer such and such a mine.' But, speaking generally, employers are aware
that unity of interest should produce solidarity of action. The local
employes like to breed divisions, in order to increase their own
importance. This should be put down with a strong hand; and all should
learn the lesson that what benefits one mine benefits all. Many of the
little streams run between steep banks, and in the rainy season mud and
water combine to make the line impracticable. Yet there is nothing to
stand in the way of a cheap tram; and perhaps this would cost less and
keep better than a metalled road. The twisting of the track, 'without
rhyme or reason,' reminded me of the snakiest paths in Central Africa. Our
course, as the map shows, was in every quadrant of the compass except the
On our left or north ran the Aunabe, M. Dahse's Ahunabe, [Footnote: M.
Dahse's paper, _Die Goldkueste_ (Geog. Soc. of Bremen, vol. ii., 1882), has
been ably translated by Mr. H. Bruce Walker, jun., of the India Store
Depot.] the northern fork of the Abonsa, which falls into the right bank
below Apankru. It has a fine assortment of mixed rapids, which show well
during the floods. Hills of the usual quartz blocks, gravels, sand, and
clay lead, after 1 hr. 40 min. walking and collecting, at the rate of two
geographical miles an hour, to Mr. Crocker's second set of huts. They were
built on a level for shelter and resting-places before Apankru was in
existence, and were baptised 'Sierra Leone' by emigrants from the white
man's grave and the black man's Garden of Eden.
Beyond this settlement is a fine quartz hill, round the northern edge of
which the path winds to the little Kwansakru. This is a woman's village,
where the wives of chiefs who have mining-rights, accompanied by their
slaves, are stationed, to pan gold for their lazy husbands. In this way
may have arisen the vulgar African story of Amazon settlements. Messieurs
Zweifel and Moustier [Footnote: _Voyage_, &c., p. 115.] were told by a
Kissi man that twelve marches behind their country is a large town called
Nahalo, occupied only by the weaker sex. A man showing himself in the
streets, or met on the road, is at once put to death; however, some of the
softer-hearted have kept them prisoners, and the result may easily be
divined. All the male issue is killed and only the girls are kept.
Many large 'women's washings' of old date give us a hint how the country
should be worked. All along the line of the Aunabe white sands, the
tailings of natural sluices, have been deposited; the black sand sinking
by its own weight. I was unable to find out the extent of the French
concessions, and look forward to the coming day of compulsory definition
of boundaries and registration in Government offices. These grants are
mingled in inextricable confusion with those secured by 'Surgeon-Major Dr.
James Africanus Beale Horton, Esq.'
Soon after Kwansakru we exchanged the ordinary path for a mere thread in
the bush, leading to the southern end of Tebribi Hill. The name, according
to Mr. Sam, means 'when you hear, it shakes,' signifying that the thunder
reverberates from the heights owing to its steep side and gives it a
tremulous motion. This abrupt, cliff-like side is the western, where the
schistose gneiss is exposed for a thickness of 60 feet and more: the stone
is talcose, puddinged in places with quartz pebbles, and everywhere
showing laminations of black sand. The long oval mound of red clay,
overgrown with trees, and rising 295 feet above sea-level, is all
auriferous; but there are placers richer than their neighbours. Tebribi
was the favourite washing-ground of the Apinto Wasas; but the old shafts
were all neglected after the Dutch left, and no deep sinking was known
within the memory of man until the last twelve years. I passed a pit on
the western flank; the winch had been removed, and my people found it
impracticable: we descended to it by cut steps and followed a cornice,
mainly artificial, for a short distance to where its mouth opened. This
hole had been sunk 70 to 80 feet deep in the talcose stone; and it would
have been far easier and better to have driven galleries and adits into
the face of the rock.
We took fourteen minutes to clamber up the stiff side in the pelting rain,
with a tornado making ready to break. Ten minutes more, along the level,
and a total of three hours, placed us at Mr. Crocker's Bellevue House. I
had been asked to baptise it, and gave the name after a place in Sevenoaks
which overlooks the wooded expanse of the Kentish weald. The place being
locked up, we at once committed burglary; I occupied one of the two
boarded bedrooms with plank walls, and my men established themselves in
the broad and well-thatched verandah. When the view cleared we saw various
outliers of hill, all running nearly parallel and striking north with more
or less easting; the temperature was delightful, and between the showers
the breezes were most refreshing. At night a persistent rain set in and
ruined all chance of getting sights.
The next morning broke dull and grey with curtains of smoky fog and mist
hanging to the hills; and the heavy wet made the paths greasy and
slippery. Leaving Bellevue House, we walked along the whole length of the
ridge in half an hour; and, descending the north-western slope, we struck
the main thoroughfare--such as it is. Reaching the level, we found more
'women's washings,' and the highly auriferous ground looked as if made for
the purpose of hydraulic mining.
Another half-hour along the lower flat led us to Burnettville, Crocker's
_Ruhe_ No. 3. It is a large native-built house fronted by long narrow
quarters for negroes on the other side of the road. The path crossed
several streamlets trending north to the Aunabe, and a bad mud which had
seen corduroy in its better days. Blocks of quartz and slate protruded
between the patches of bog. We then traversed fairly undulating and
well-wooded ground, clay-stone coated with oxide of iron; we crossed
another small stream flowing northwards, and we began the ascent leading
to 'Government House, Takwa.' It is also known as Mount Pleasant, Prospect
Mount, and Vinegar Hill.
The site facing the Effuenta mine is the summit of a long thin line about
275 feet high. This queer specimen of official head-quarters was built by
the united genius of the owners of the ground, Mr. Commissioner Cascaden
and Dr. Duke. As before said the really comfortable house of boarding has
been bequeathed to the white ants at Axim by the Government of the Golden
Land, too poor to pay transport. Commissioner and doctor receive no
house-allowance, and according to popular rumour, which is probably
untrue, were graciously told that they might pig in a native hut in or
about Takwa. Consequently they built this place and charge a heavy rent
Government House is a large parallelogram of bamboo. The roof is an
intricate mass of branches and tree-trunks, with a pitch so flat that it
admits every shower. Mr. Higgins was at once obliged to expend
10_l_.-12_l_. in removing and restoring the house-cover. Under it are
built two separate and independent squares of wattle with plank floors
raised a foot or so off the ground; these dull and dismal holes, which
have doors but no windows, serve as sleeping-places. The rest of the
interior goes by the name of a sitting-room. The outer walls are
whitewashed on both sides, and between them and the two wattle squares is
a space of 6 to 8 feet, adding to the disproportionate appearance of the
interior. Had it been divided off in the usual way the tenement would have
been much more comfortable. There is a scatter of ragged huts, grandiosely
designated as the barracks, on the level space where the Haussas parade.
When Mr. Higgins was making himself water-tight, these lazy loons had the
impudence to ask that he would either have their lines mended or order new
ones to be built. I would have made them throw down their ramshackle
cabins, knock up decent huts, and keep them in good order.
Leaving Government House, I descended the steep incline of Vinegar Hill,
passed through the little Esanuma village, and crossed two streams flowing
south. One is easily forded; the eastern has a corduroy bridge 176 ft.
long, built to clear the muds on either side. I shall call this double
water the Takwa rivulet, and shall have more to say about it on my return.
Another steep ascent placed me at the Effuenta establishment. I was now
paying my second visit to the far-famed Takwa Ridge. It is a long line
running parallel with Vinegar Hill, but instead of being regular, like its
neighbour, it is broken into a series of small crests looking on the map
like vertebrae; these heights being parted by secondary valleys, some of
which descend almost to the level of the flowing water. Westward the
hog's-back is bounded by the Takwa rivulet, rising in the northern part of
the valley. Eastwards there is a corresponding feature called by the
English 'Quartz Creek:' it breaks through the ridge in the southern
section of the Effuenta property and unites with the Takwa. My aneroid
showed the height of the crest to be 260 feet above sea-level, and about
160 above the valley. Mr. Wyatt has raised it to 1,400 feet--a curious
At Effuenta I found Mr. MacLennan, the manager whom we last met at Axim.
Owing to the drowned-out state of 'Government House' he had given
hospitality to Messieurs Higgins and Roulston, and I could not prevent his
leaving his own sleeping-room for my better accommodation. I spent two
days with him inspecting the mine and working up my notes; during this
time Mr. Bowden, of Takwa, and Mr. Ex-missionary Dawson passed through the
station; and I was unfortunate in missing the former.
'Effuenta House' is a long narrow tenement of bamboo and thatch, divided
into six or seven rooms, and built upon a platform of stone and swish
raised seven feet off the ground. All the chambers open upon a broad
verandah, which shades the platform. The inmate was talking of rebuilding,
as the older parts were beginning to decay. He had just set up in his
'compound' two single-room bamboo houses, with plank floors raised four
feet off the ground; these were intended to lodge the European staff.
Other bamboo huts form the offices and the stores. The Kru quarters are at
the western base of the hill; a few hands, however, live in the two little
villages upon the Takwa rivulet. The Sierra Leone and Akra artificers
occupy their own hamlet between the Kru lines and the stamps. Last year
there was a garden with a small rice-field, but everything was stolen as
soon as it was fit to gather.
Next morning Mr. MacLennan led me to the diggings. This concession, which
is the southernmost but one upon the Takwa ridge, contains one thousand by
two thousand fathoms; and desultory work began in 1880. The rock, a
talcose gneiss, all laden with gold, runs along the whole length of the
hill, striking, as usual, north 6º east (true). In places it forms a
basset, or outcrop, cresting the summit; and the eastern flank is cliffy,
like that of the Tebribi. To get at the ore three shafts have been sunk on
the western slope of the ridge just below the highest part, and a passage
is being driven to connect the three. A rise for ventilation, and for
sending down the stone, connects this upper gallery with a lower one; and
the latter is being pushed forward to unite the three tunnels pierced
horizontally near the foot of the hill, at right angles to the lode. There
is also a fourth tunnel below the manager's house, which will be joined on
to the others. The three tunnels open westward upon a tramway, along which
the ore is carried to the stamps. I judged the output already made to be
considerable, but could not make an estimate, as it was heaped up in
The stamp-mill, lying to the extreme north of the actual workings, is
supplied with water by a leat from the eastern Takwa rivulet. The twelve
head of stamps, on Appleby's 'gravitation system,' are driven by a
Belleville boiler and engine; this has the merit of being portable and the
demerit of varying in effective power, owing to the smallness of the
steam-chest. The battery behaves satisfactorily; only the pump, which is
worked by the cam-shaft, wants power to supply the whole dozen;
consequently another and independent pump has been ordered. Krumen, who
will never, I think, make good mine-workmen, are constantly employed in
washing the blankets as soon as they are charged; and the resulting black
sand is carried to the washing-house to be panned, or rather calabashed,
by native women. In time we shall doubtless see concentrating bundles and
The three iron-framed stamp-boxes discharge their sludge into two parallel
mercury- or amalgam-boxes, which Mr. Appleby declares will arrest 75 to 80
per cent. of free gold. It then passes on to the distributing table, the
flow to the strakes being regulated by small sluices. Of the latter there
is one to each width of green baize or of mining-cloth made for the
purpose. The overflow of the sluices runs into a large tailing-tank of
board-work, with holes and plugs at different levels to tap the contents.
These tailings are also washed by women.
Finally, the mercury is squeezed through leathers and the hard amalgam is
sent for treatment to England. Retorting is not practised at present in
any of the mines. The only reduction-gear belongs to the Gold Coast Mining
Company; and some time must elapse before it is ready for use. My
discovery of native cinnabar will then prove valuable.
The Effuenta can now bring to bank, with sufficient hands, at least a
hundred tons a day of good paying ore; whereas the stamps can crush at
most one-tenth. When this section of the lode, about 200 fathoms, shall be
worked, there will still be the balance of 1,000. But even this fifth of
the property will supply material for years. The proportion of gold
greatly varies, and I should not like to hazard a conjecture as to
average, but an ounce and a half or two ounces will not be above the mark.
At present the manager works under the difficulty of wanting European
assistants. His mining-engineer and one mechanic lately left him to return
home; and he has only a white book-keeper, an English working-miner, and a
mechanic, besides a man who made his way from the coast on foot, and who
is now doing good, honest work. The progress made by Mr. MacLennan, during
his ten months of charge, has been most creditable. He has literally
opened the mine, the works of which were begun by M. Dahse. He has
personally supervised the transport and erection of all the machinery; and
at present, in addition to the ordinary managerial routine, he has to act
as chief of each and every department. Owing to his brave exertions the
future of the Effuenta mine is very promising: it will teach those to come
'how to do it,' in contrast with another establishment which is the best
guide 'how _not_ to do it.' If the Board prove itself efficient, this
property will soon pay a dividend. But half-hearted measures will go far
to stultify the able and energetic work I found on the spot. [Footnote:
This forecast has been unexpectedly verified with the least possible
delay. Perfect communication has been established between the shafts and
levels; and the mine can now (October 1882) turn out 100 tons a day at
five shillings. But imperfect pumps have been sent out, and the result is
a highly regretable block. Of the value of the mine there can be no
The northern extremity of the Takwa ridge, whose length may be
nine to ten miles, remains unappropriated, as far as can be known. The
furthest concession has been made, I am told, to Mr. Creswick. South of
the section in question lies a property now in the hands of the late M.
Bonnat's executors: the grant was given to him as a wedding-present by his
friends, the chiefs. Report says that from this part of the lode, which is
riddled with native pits, came some of the specimens that floated the G.
C. M. Company. Succeeds in due order the African Gold Coast Company,
French and English, which was brought out in 1878. It is popularly and
locally known as the Takwa (not 'Tarcquah') mine, from the large native
village which infests its grounds. I have described the Effuenta, its
southern neighbour. Beyond this again is a strip belonging to the
Franco-English Company; and, lastly, at the southern butt-end, divided by
a break from the main ridge, lies the 'Tamsoo-Mewoosoo mines of Wassaw.'
The latter has lately been 'companyed,' under the name of the 'Tacquah
Gold Mines Company,' by Dr. J. A. B. Horton and Mr. Ferdinand Fitzgerald,
of the famous 'African Times.' When its directors inform us that 'twenty
ounces of gold lately arrived from a neighbouring mine, the produce of
stamping of twenty-five tons of ore, similar to that of Tamsoo-Mewoosoo,'
they may not have been aware that the produce in question was worked from
the alluvial drift discovered, about the end May 1881, in the
north-western corner of the Swanzy estates. This drift has no connection
with the Takwa ridge-lodes.
After morning tea on March 28 I bade a temporary adieu to my most
hospitable host, and walked along the ridge-crest to the establishment of
the Franco-English or African Gold Coast Company. Here I found only one
person, Dr. Burke, an independent practitioner, who is allowed lodging,
but not board. M. Haillot, of Paris, formerly accountant and book-keeper,
was in temporary charge of this mine and of Abosu during Mr. Bowden's
absence. I shall give further detail on my return march. Passing through
the spirit-reeking Takwa village, where nearly every hovel is a 'shebeen,'
I walked along the valley separating the ridge from its western neighbour,
Vinegar Hill, and in half an hour entered the huts belonging to the Gold
Coast Mining Company. [Footnote: These gentlemen are still (October 1882)
doing hard and successful work at the mines.] Here I breakfasted with the
brothers Gowan, who had been left in charge by Mr. Creswick. My notes on
this establishment must also be reserved for a future page.
Twenty-five minutes' walking brought me to where the main road, a mere
bush-path, strikes across a gully separating two crests of the Takwa
ridge. Then came a good stretch of level ground, composed of sand and
gravel of stained quartz, clothed with the ordinary second-growth. When
this ended I passed over the northern heads of two small _buttes_ which
lie unconformably; the direction of their main axes lies north-north-west,
whereas all their neighbours trend to the north-north-east. The climb was
followed by a second level, bounded on the left, or north, by the Abo Yao
Hill, the _emplacement_ of the 'Mines d'Or d'Aboassu.' Two branch paths
lead up to it from the main line of road. Near the western is a place
chosen as a cemetery for Europeans; as usual it is neglected and overgrown
Presently I arrived at the village of Abosu, a walk of about two hours
from the Takwa mine. Ten months ago it contained forty to fifty head of
negroes; now it may number 3,000, although the May emigration had begun,
when the workmen return to their homes, being unable to labour in the
flooded flats. There was the hum of a busy, buzzing crowd, sinking pits
and shafts, some in the very streets and outside their own doors. This
alluvial bed must be one of the richest in the country; and it is wholly
native property under King Angu, of Apinto. There is little to describe in
the village; every hut is a kind of store, where the most poisonous of
intoxicants, the stinkingest of pomatum, and the gaudiest of
pocket-handkerchiefs are offered as the prizes for striking gold. There
are also a few goldsmiths' shops, where the precious metal is adulterated
and converted to coarse, rude ornaments. The people are able 'fences,' and
powder, fuses, and mining-tools easily melt into strong waters. Hence
Abosu is a Paradise to the Fanti police and to the Haussa garrison of
I looked about Abosu to prospect the peculiarities of the place, where the
Sierra Leonite and the Cape Coast Anglo-nigger were conspicuous for
'cheek' and general offensiveness. These ignoble beings did not spare even
poor Nero; they blatantly wondered what business I had to bring such a big
brute in order to frighten the people. Resuming my way along the flat by a
winding path, I came upon a model bit of corduroying over a bad marsh,
crossed the bridge, and suddenly sighted Mr. F. F. Crocker's coffee-mill
stamping-battery. It lies at the south-western end of a _butte_, one of a
series disposed in parallel ranges and trending in the usual direction.
All have quartz-reefs buried in red clay, and are well wooded, with here
and there small clearings. The names are modern--Crocker's Reef to the
east, Sam's Reef, and so forth.
Then I passed an admirably appointed saw-mill. At this distance from the
coast, where transport costs 24_l._ to 26_l._ a ton, carpenter's work must
be done upon the spot. A wide, clean road, metalled with gravel, and in
places bordered by pine-apples, led to store-houses of bamboo and thatch,
built on either side of the way. After walking from Effuenta seven and a
half geographical miles in three hours and forty-five minutes, I reached
the establishment known as Crockerville. It dates from 1879, and in 1880
it forwarded its first remittance of 11_l._ 10_s._ to England. The village
was laid out under the superintendence of Mr. Sam, the ablest native
employe it has ever been my fortune to meet. He is the same who, when
District-commissioner of Axim, laid out the town and planted the
street-avenues. In conversation with me he bitterly derided the native
association formed at Cape Coast Castle for obtaining concessions and for
selling them to the benighted white man. He resolved not to put his money
in a business where all would be at loggerheads within six months unless
controlled by an European.
The houses are bamboo on stone platforms. One block is occupied by the
owner, and a parallel building lodges Mr. Sam and his wife, the two being
connected by an open dining-hall. The kitchen and offices lie to the north
and east. Further west are quarters for European miners, and others again
for Mr. Turner, now acting manager, and his white clerk. Furthest removed
are the black quarters, the huts forming a street.
Crockerville at present is decidedly short of hands. The number on the
books, all told, black and white, is only sixty-two: when the whole
property comes to be worked, divided and sub-divided, it will require
between a thousand and fifteen hundred. The hands are mostly country
people, including a few gangs employed to sink shafts. One gang lately
deserted, for the following reason. Two men were below charging the shots
from a heap of loose powder, whilst their friends overhead were quietly
smoking their pipes. A 'fire-'tick,' thrown across the shaft, burnt a
fellow's fingers, and he at once dropped it upon his brethren underground;
they were badly scorched, and none of the gang has been seen since. I
mention this accident as proving how difficult it is to manage the black
miner. The strictest regulations are issued to prevent the fatuous nigger
killing himself, but all in vain: he is worse, if possible, than his white
_confrere_. If I had the direction all the powder-work should be done by
responsible Europeans. I would fire by electricity, the battery remaining
in the manager's hands, and no native should be trusted with explosives.
Here I fell amongst old acquaintances, and was only too glad to remain
with them between Friday and Thursday. Mr. Turner gave me one of his
bed-rooms, and Mr. Crocker's sitting-room was always open by day. We
messed together, clerks, mechanics, and all, in the open dining-hall: this
is Mr. Crocker's plan, and I think it by far the best. The master's eye
preserves decorum, and his presence prevents unreasonable complaints about
rations. The French allow each European employe 4_s. _9_d._ a day for
food and hire of servants, and attempt most unfairly to profit by the sale
of provisions and wines. The consequence is that everything is disjointed
and uncomfortable: some starve themselves to save money; others overdrink
themselves because meat is scarce; and all complain that the sum which
would suffice for many is insufficient for one.
The Swanzy establishment has set up an exceptionally light battery of
twelve stamps, made in sections for easier transport. Neither here nor in
any of the mines have stone-breakers or automatic feeders yet been
introduced: the stuff is all hand-spalled. One small 'Belleville' drives
the stamps, another works the Tangye pump, and a third turns the
saw-mills. I will notice a few differences between the Swanzy system and
that of Effuenta. The wooden framework of the stamp-mill is better than
iron. The cam-shaft here carries only single, not double cams, a decided
disadvantage: in order to strike the same number of blows per minute it
has to make double the number of revolutions. Moreover, by some unhappy
mistake, it is too far from its work, and the result is a succession of
sharp blows on the tappets, with injury to all the gear. On the other hand
proper fingers are fitted to the stamps: this is far better than
supporting them by a rough chock of wood. At Crockerville, as at Effuenta,
only six of the twelve stamps were working: there the pump was at fault;
here the blanket-tables had not been made wide enough. I could hardly
estimate the total amount of ore brought to grass, or its average yield:
specimens of white quartz, with threads, strings, and lobs of gold, have
been sent to England from Crocker's Reef. The best tailings are reserved
either for treatment on the spot or for reduction in England. The mine, as
regards present condition, is in the stage of prospecting upon a large and
liberal scale. The stamps are chiefly used to run through samples of from
50 to 100 tons taken from the various parts of the property: in this way
the most exact results can be obtained. During my visit they were
preparing to work a hundred tons from Aji Bipa, the fourth and furthest
_butte_ to the north-west.
I visited this mound in company with Mr. Sam, who interpreted the name to
be that of the gambogefruit. We descended, as we had ascended, by the
stamping-battery, crossed the bridge, and then struck northwards, over the
third hillock, to No. 4. Unlike Crocker's Reef, Aji Bipa does not show
visible gold; its other peculiarities will best be explained by the report
I wrote on the spot.
This property is situated near Crockerville and can always be easily
reached from that place. In fact, the southern boundary marches with the
northern limit of the Crockerville estate. The rich gold-bearing lode is
situated on the western slope of the hill, and can be seen in all the
three shafts which have been sunk. The formation of the hill seems in many
respects to correspond with the Lingula flags at and near Clogau,
Dolgelli, and Gogafau. This formation is practically the same as that of
the range of hills on which the concessions of the Gold Coast Mining
Company, of the African Gold Coast Mining Company, of the Effuenta
Company, of the Mines d'Or d'Aboassu (Abosu), and the Tamsu concessions
are situated, and also as that of Tebribi Hill; but each of the three
areas has its own marked features. In all the rocks are talcose and show a
sort of conglomerate of quartz pebbles, in some cases water-worn and in
others angular, bedded in a mixture of quartz and granite detritus. This
has in the three areas undergone varying degrees of pressure, and has been
upheaved at different angles. In some cases the pressure and heat have
been so great that the rock assumes a distinctly gneissic character.
At Aji Bipa the lode runs N. 38º E. (Mag.) in the centre shaft, and N. 40
E. in the southern shaft, a sort of fault occurring in the centre shaft.
In the northern shaft I should put it at 38º, but from the way in which
the neighbouring rock had cleaved it was difficult to get the strike
accurately. The dip is the same in all three shafts, viz. 82º. The lode
being so near vertical, it can be clearly traced for the whole depth of
the shafts, and is very well defined. The hanging (eastern) wall is highly
coloured with iron oxides, and contains many quartz crystals which are
through-coloured with the same, and I do not think it at all unlikely that
garnets and other gems may be found in it. One or two minute crystals
showed a green colour, and might be tourmaline or emerald; but perhaps it
was only a surface-colour caused by the presence of copper. The foot wall
is very well marked by a strip of whitish yellow clay about an inch in
thickness. The rock on both sides of the lode is gold-bearing, and is
evidently, as well as the real lode, formed of the debris of old quartz
and granites. Talcose flakes are frequent, and in some places it seems to
be clearly gneiss. Although with a small plant it might not be profitable
to treat this, still with large and suitable machinery it may be made to
pay, and the trouble of separating the rich lode from the inferior stone
avoided. One remarkable trait in the lode is the manner in which it splits
into blocks and slabs, all the faces of the quartz pebbles being cloven in
precisely the same plane.
The length of the concession along the line of lode is 2,780 feet, and
from the way in which the lode stands on the western slope of the hill,
and the dip being eastward, I am of opinion that if a drift were put
through the hill other and parallel lodes would be found. Of course this
can only be proved by experience.
The thickness of the lode where I measured it varied from 22-1/2 to 25
inches in the southern shaft; and although I saw one pinch in the
northern, and the fault in the centre one, it can easily be traced and
worked, and should prove most profitable. In the centre shaft it is 24
inches, and in the northern 30 inches.
A curious sort of black substance occurs close to the line of clay which
defines the under side of the lode, and may be remnants of some vegetable
material; but with the means at my disposal I will not give any decided
Over the rock which forms the main body of the hill lie the usual red clay
and oxidised quartz gravels, which, if treated by hydraulic mining, ought,
as it contains gold, to prove a paying stuff: moreover washing off the
surface-dirt would lay bare the rock and render all after-work easy and
The alluvials in the bottoms should here prove unusually rich, and means
might be adopted by which they should be raised mechanically and then
flumed down again.
Ample water supply exists both for hydraulic mining and reef-working;
there are good sites for all necessary machinery and building, and timber
as usual is to be had in any quantity that may be required.
The question of transport is of course a most important one, and in the
present state of the roads and country very expensive; but from the
route-survey I have made I am convinced that a cheap and efficient service
to the mines of this and neighbouring districts would be easily organised,
and that instead of paying, as at present, the absurd price of 4_s_. or
5_s_. per ton per mile, it could be reduced to an average of from 4_d_. to
6_d_. The shafts now open are--
South, 45 feet deep, 9 feet by 4 feet 9 inches.
Centre, 36 feet deep, 8 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 2 inches.
North, 45 feet deep, 8 feet by 5 feet 10 inches.
This is both a most valuable and interesting piece of country to work, and
I hope that it may soon be provided with all necessary staff, plant and
Rich returns may be confidently expected, and under proper management
should prove a most paying business.
The exploratory works now existing have been done in an honest and
businesslike manner, like all I have seen where Mr. Crocker and Mr. Turner
have worked; and the zeal and intelligence displayed by Mr. Sam could
scarcely be equalled and certainly not surpassed.
I have not said anything about the quantity of gold to the ton, as the
experimental crushings at Crockerville will enable a much more accurate
idea to be formed than any I could make from the hand-washings I saw done.
The boxes of specimens sealed by me are the result of blasts and
excavation done whilst I was on the spot.
[Footnote: TEMPERATURE, ETC., AT CROCKERVILLE.
Date Thermometer Bar. Rainfall
Max. Min. Inches Ins.
April 1 91º 73º 29.55
" 2 91 75 29.50 0.06
" 3 93 74 29.50
" 4 90 73 29.50
" 5 96 76 29.40
" 6 91 71 29.45 3.02
" 7 80 70 29.50
" 8 75 71 29.55
" 9 93 72 29.50 0.01
" 10 92 73 29.50
" 11 93 74 29.45 0.02
" 12 94 72 29.50 0.09
" 13 95 74 29.50 0.50
" 14 96 74 29.50
" 15 96 76 29.50
" 16 88 74 29.45
" 17 92 73 29.55
" 18 89 74 29.55
" 19 85 74 29.55 0.03
" 20 91 73 29.60 0.47
" 21 88 74 29.55 0.01
" 22 93 74 29.60 0.03
" 23 92 73 29.55
" 24 94 73 29.50 0.28
" 25 93 73 29.50 0.18
" 26 93 73 29.50 0.26
" 27 93 74 29.55 0.27
" 28 88 74 29.50
" 29 94 74 29.45
" 30 93 74 29.40 0.26
May 1 90º 73º 29.45 0.40
" 2 90 72 29.45 0.74
" 3 81 72 29.50
" 4 86 73 29.50 0.03
" 5 88 73 29.55 0.04
" 6 83 71 29.55
" 7 89 73 29.50 0.05
" 8 90 74 29.50
" 9 91 73 29.45
" 10 80 71 29.50 0.95
" 11 89 73 29.45 0.06
" 12 89 74 29.50
" 13 94 73 29.35 0.01
" 14 84 74 29.50
" 15 89 72 29.50 2.90
" 16 85 73 29.50
" 17 79 72 29.60 1.23
" 18 85 74 29.50
" 19 82 74 29.55 0.06
" 20 87 74 29.50
" 21 88 70 29.50 0.30
" 22 84 70 29.60 0.92
" 23 88 72 29.60 0.02
" 24 87 73 29.60
" 25 86 72 29.60 1.23
" 26 82 71 29.60 1.23
" 27 86 71 29.60 1.54
" 28 85 73 29.50
" 29 88 73 29.60
" 30 82 73 29.55 0.56
" 31 82 72 29.55
June 1 82 72 29.60 0.18
" 2 82 72 29.60 1.05
" 3 83 74 29.55 0.16
" 4 84 73 29.65 0.05
" 5 84 73 29.60 0.14
" 6 84 73 29.55
" 7 82 72 29.50 0.16
" 8 82 72 29.65
" 9 85 73 29.55
" 10 84 73 29.69
" 11 80 73 29.55
" 12 81 72 29.60
" 13 81 68 29.60 0.02
" 14 85 66 29.60
" 15 86 68 29.65
" 16 86 68 29.60
" 17 87 69 29.60
" 18 83 70 29.60
" 19 82 71 29.60 0.70
" 20 79 72 29.65 0.14
" 21 82 72 29.60
" 22 85 72 29.65 0.03
" 23 82 73 29.50
" 24 75 71 29.65 2.20
" 25 80 71 29.70
" 26 86 71 29.70
" 27 80 71 29.65 0.34
" 28 81 71 29.65
" 29 81 71 29.60 0.14
" 30 78 70 29.65
July 1 79 67 29.70
" 2 79 68 29.65
" 3 80 71 29.70
" 4 86 72 29.70 0.60
" 5 79 72 29.70 0.40
" 6 81 71 29.60 0.17
" 7 79 72 29.70
" 8 81 71 29.70
" 9 80 70 29.75 0.06
" 10 79 72 29.60
" 11 80 71 29.60 0.50
" 12 80 72 29.60
" 13 78 70 29.60
" 14 79 70 29.65
" 15 80 69 29.70 0.40
" 16 83 70 29.70
" 17 81 71 29.60 0.40
" 18 80 71 29.60
" 19 79 71 29.65
" 20 79 70 29.55
" 21 80 70 29.60
" 22 80 71 29.60 0.02
" 23 81 71 29.65
" 24 80 71 29.65
" 25 79 71 29.70 3.30
" 26 79 70 29.70
" 27 80 70 29.70
" 28 85 71 29.70
" 29 81 71 29.65
" 30 78 70 29.65 0.70
" 31 79 70 29.65
Aug. 1 78 69 29.65
" 2 83 72 29.70
" 3 82 72 29.65 0.56
" 4 80 70 29.65
" 5 82 72 29.60
" 6 79 70 29.60 0.28
" 7 81 70 29.60
" 8 80 70 29.60
" 9 81 70 29.65
" 10 82 70 29.65 0.40
" 11 82 70 29.65 0.60
" 12 81 68 29.65
" 13 81 67 29.60
" 14 80 69 29.70
" 15 83 71 29.65
" 16 81 69 29.65
" 17 90 70 29.70
" 18 86 71 29.65
" 19 81 70 29.65
" 20 85 68 29.70
" 21 83 70 29.70
" 22 80 70 29.65
" 23 81 73 29.70
" 24 84 71 29.65
" 25 86 70 29.70
" 26 82 70 29.70
" 27 84 71 29.65 0.02
" 28 84 71 29.70 0.01
" 29 85 72 29.70 0.02
" 30 86 70 29.70
" 31 85 71 29.65
Sept. 1 84 72 29.65
" 2 85 72 29.66
" 3 87 72 29.65 0.01
" 4 86 73 29.66 0.15
" 5 85 72 29.70
" 6 80 72 29.70 0.15
" 7 85 72 29.70
" 8 86 71 29.60 0.18
" 9 86 72 29.60 1.00
" 10 80 72 29.70 0.01
" 11 85 72 29.70 0.01
" 12 85 73 29.65
" 13 77 72 29.65 0.50
" 14 79 72 29.65 0.40
" 15 83 72 29.65 0.17
" 16 82 71 29.65 0.46
" 17 78 70 29.70 0.07
" 18 86 72 29.55 0.12
" 19 78 72 29.70 1.14
" 20 87 72 29.60 0.43
" 21 78 71 29.66 0.02
" 22 78 70 29.65 0.30
" 23 85 71 29.60 0.03
" 24 85 72 29.70
" 25 87 72 29.60 0.03
" 26 84 72 29.60 0.24
" 27 91 73 29.50
" 28 89 71 29.50
" 29 89 71 29.55 0.65
" 30 91 72 29.65
Average Tem. per Diem Total Rainfall per Month
April 79.00 --
May 78.40 8.27
June 76.60 11.24
July 74.79 3.44
August 74.22 5.30
Sept. 76.28 3.08
Oct. 78.05 4.89
Highest temperature on May 21, 94º (1880).
Lowest temperature on July 6 and 7, 65º.
Highest rainfall in 24 hours on June 20, 3 25.
Highest variation in 24 hours on May 2 and 3 94º-68º = 26º.
Lowest variation in 24 hours on May 14, 76º-74º= 20º.
Average Tem. per Diem Total Rainfall per Month
April 83.65 5.89
May 77.67 11.21
June 76.73 7.08
July 75.32 6.65
August 76.46 1.89
Highest temperature on April 5 and 14, 96º (1881).
Lowest temperature on June 14, 66º.
Highest rainfall in 24 hours on July 25, 3 30.
Highest variation in 24 hours on April 14, 96º-74º = 22º.
Lowest variation in 24 hours on June 24, 75º-71º = 4º.]
TO THE MINES OF ABOSU, OF THE 'GOLD COAST,' AND OF THE TAKWA
('AFRICAN GOLD COAST') COMPANIES.
On April 6 I reached the Mine d'Or d'Aboassu, this being my second visit.
The first, on the previous Sunday, had been more interesting in the point
of anthropological than of geological study. The day of rest had been
devoted to a general jollification by most of the whites, and the blacks
had ably followed suit. The best example was set by the doctor attached:
he was said to have emptied sixty-two bottles of cognac during his
twenty-three days of steamer-passage. But, brandy proving insufficient, he
had recourse to opium, chloral, and bromide of potassium, a pint and a
half of laudanum barely sufficing for the week. I need hardly say where
the abuse of stimulants and opiates lands a man, either in Western Africa
or in England.
From the Abosu village and its abominations I turned sharp to the
north-west, and ascended the steep western flank of Abo Yao, whose highest
point is 312 feet above sea-level. The distance from Crockerville is a
mile and three-quarters, or a mile in a straight line, and from Takwa,
about six. M. Dahse increases the latter to nine miles, the difference of
latitude being three and a quarter miles, and of longitude four. My map
will be the first to correct these distances, which are exaggerated by the
native carriers to get more pay.
The summit of Abo Yao commands an extensive view to the north. Here the
range of vision is about sixteen miles over the greenest of second
growths; and the whole is dotted with _buttes_ of red clay, somewhat lower
than 'On the Stone' (_Abosu_). It is easy to see that here again we have
an ancient archipelago, like that which formerly fringed the shore of
Axim, but of older formation. In fact, I should not expect to find a true
coast before entering the grassy zone north of the great belt of forest.
Each hill must carry at least one core of auriferous reef. The intervening
valleys, gullies, and gulches, seldom more than a hundred feet above
ocean-level, have been warped up by gradual deposition from the north, and
are doubtless full of rich alluvium. This might be worked by
steam-navvies, and washed upon the largest possible scale; the result
would be excellent ground for plantations.
I look upon Abosu as an eastern outlier of the greater Takwa ridge. But
although the hill preserves the normal direction the reef lies almost at
right angles to it, crossing the upper end and striking from north 40º
west to south 40º east. I am unable to divine what caused this curious
dislocation. The gold matrix is still the Takwa gneiss, rarely showing
visible metal. Possibly the present diggings have struck only a large
branch or a break.
Here mining-operations have been extensive, and about 1,800 tons of rich
stuff have already been brought to bank. The diggings begin with an open
cut of 110 feet; this leads to a tunnel in the rock partly timbered, by
which the lode with a dip of 41º is bisected. Eastward from the tunnel a
gallery has been driven 147 feet along the vein, and westwards there is a
similar passage of 202 feet. About 140 feet on either side of the tunnel
two rises, one 16, the other 12 feet long, are being driven up the slope
of the reef. On the hill-side above the tunnel a shaft 80 feet deep has
been sunk, but it has not struck the vein: for some peculiar reason the
bottom is made broader than the top; and the mining-captain has a shrewd
idea that, like the native pits of similar form, it may end by 'caving
in.' Again, a second tunnel has just been opened in the southern end of
the _butte_, the engineer hoping to find the main lode lying conformably,
or north with easting.
A little above the northern foot of the Abo Yao the native workmen are
employed in making a large platform, or terrace, for stamps and other
machinery; now it is about 150 x 40 yards. As yet there is no power. A
large open shed of timber-posts, with a roofing of corrugated iron, stands
ready to receive the expected saw-mill. The only actual industry is
At Abosu the _personnel_ is lodged in bamboo-houses scattered over the
hill-side, and the settlement contrasts dismally with the orderly comfort
of Crockerville. M. Haillot, acting manager of Abosu and Takwa, leads a
caravan-life between the two. Fortunately for him the distance is
inconsiderable. I here met Mr. Symonds, a Cornish miner, who has worked in
Mexico, and who speaks Spanish fluently, enabling him to converse with M.
Plisson. He was one of our fellow-passengers, and he rejoiced exceedingly
to see me. He and his youngster, Mr. Mitchell, who suffers from
chest-complaint, praised the prospects of the mine, but did not enjoy
their pay being cut for passage and the system of ration-money. Another
unwise plan adopted by the French Company is to stipulate upon twenty
working-days, each of ten hours per mensem, in default of which salaries
undergo proportional deduction. This makes the miner work even when he is
unfit for exertion. White labour, however, is confined to superintendence
and to laying out and building tunnels. A Swiss, M. Schneuvelly, acts as
general superintendent, and he is assisted by two French _ouvriers_. The
hands are chiefly Krumen. The style of working is decidedly 'loafy,' and
the pipe is touched at all hours and in all places.
North of Abosu lies the Dahse concession, a square of 1,000 fathoms, to be
worked by an Anglo-German company. I know it only by hearsay and by seeing
it upon the owner's map.
M. Haillot invited me to be his guest, and I spent my day in the mine.
Next morning (April 8) we retraced our steps towards Takwa, halting by the
way at the northernmost establishment on the ridge, the 'Gold Coast Mining
Company (Limited).' This concession, an area of 1000 x 500 fathoms, on the
west of the hill-height, does not as yet show much progress; and the works
seem to have increased but little since last year. There are two shafts
and two tunnels to strike the lode. The ore brought to grass was not in
large quantities, although I had heard to the contrary. The stone is said
to be abnormally rich, yielding seven ounces of gold to the ton; but I did
not think it richer than its neighbours, and I suspect that it will have
to be rated at one-seventh. The manager's house, also on the west of the
hill, consists of one large room of plankage, raised on posts and
thatched. The brothers Gowan, who are working exceedingly hard, and Mr.
Kenyon, who is leaving for England, were the only white men I saw. The
hands are chiefly Kruboys and the artificers Sierra Leonites. Since Mr.
Creswick's departure for Europe some changes have been made. Mr. Growan,
the acting manager, has transferred the future works to a higher level,
and has fitted up a reduction-office where there is, at present, nothing
to reduce. Crucibles and chemicals are ranged round a long room with an
iron roof. The tenant has borrowed a mortar-box, two stamp-heads, shoes,
and dies, and has fitted them with wooden stems and cam-shafts. He
proposes to drive them by two-man power, in order to crush three tons of
ore per diem and to test a new patent amalgamator.
I breakfasted with the scanty staff and then walked down the western
valley to the Takwa establishment, the oldest of the new mining-industries
in the Protectorate. I place the African Gold Coast Company, by
calculation, in N. lat. 18º 20' and W. long. (Gr.) 1º 57'
40". It is therefore fifteen direct geographical miles from Tumento
instead of thirty; twenty-seven (not sixty) from Axim, and thirty-five
from Dixcove, formerly supposed to be the nearest port. This position will
make an important difference in sundry plans and projects which were made
under old and erroneous ideas of its topography. At present the cost of
transport from Tumento to Effuenta is 6_d._ for 10 lbs., 8_d._ to Takwa,
and 10 _d._ to Abosu.
The head of the valley shows a single stream, the Babeabarbawo or Takwa
rivulet, rising close to the works of the Gold Coast Company. It is
swollen by small tributaries from either side; and, just below the
settlement, an eastern dam with a small sluice has been thrown across the
valley of the Franco-English company. As there is plenty of water in and
near the mine, they should cut at once this abominable dam, which forms a
pestilential swamp, the cess-pool of the neighbourhood. The Takwa
settlement, a line of bamboo and swish huts well built enough, lies, like
a hamlet in Congo-land, along the winding road. It is bare of trees, but
here and there a shaft yawns before the doors. M. Dahse makes the
population before 1879 to have been 6,000 souls, and in 1881 about 3,000.
I should reduce the latter figure to 600, and propose for 1882, before the
May emigration, 1,500 to 1,600. The people are Coast-men and islanders of
every tribe, with a fair sprinkling of dissolute ruffians, 'white
blackmen,' from Sierra Leone and Akra, drunken Fanti policemen, and
plundering Haussa soldiers. The ex-manager of the Effuenta mine says, in
allusion to his early residence there, 'So wird Einem das Leben daselbst
zu einer wahren Hoelle;' and he rightly describes the peculiar industries
of these true infernal regions as 'Schnappskneipen, Spielhoellen und
Schlimmeres.' Almost every house combines the pub. and the agapemone: all
the chief luxuries of the Coast-'factories' are there, and the 'blay'
(basket) of Sierra Leone comes out strong. Brilliant cottons and kerchiefs
hang from the normal line; there is pomatum for the lucky dandy and tallow
for the miner down in his luck; whilst gold-dust is conjured from pouch or
pocket by pipes and tobacco, needles and thread, beads, knives, and other
The northern part of this veritable 'Nigger Digger's Delight' is now
comparatively deserted: some chief died there, and the people have crowded
into the main body of the settlement. The village of Kwabina Angu, King of
Eastern Apinto, is now joined to Takwa. I could not distinguish the
'Palast' of King Kwami Enimill, who rules western Wasa, and whose capital
M. Haillot had preceded me in a hammock, and welcomed me to his quarters.
He occupied one of the three or four raised plank-houses; another lodged
Dr. Burke, and a third M. Voltaire, Mr. Carlyon, another young Cornishman,
who came out with us, and sundry French _ouvriers_. A large bamboo-house
had been built for a general restaurant: it became a barrack during the
'Ashanti scare,' and now it is quite unused. Standing farther back are the
very respectable tenements of the same material, with broad verandahs,
occupied at times by Mr. Ex-missionary Dawson and family. The negro
quarters are mostly in the Takwa village.
The 'Father of the African Mines,' dating from 1878, lies on the northern
third of the celebrated Takwa ridge, and its concession embraces an area
of 1000 x 2000 fathoms. The rich auriferous reef is the backbone of a long
narrow line of hill whose diameter ranges between 1,000 feet to 600 where
it is pinched. The lode strikes to the north-north-east with a dip of 47º
west. The angle of underlay, I may remark, greatly varies in these Gold
Coast reefs; some are nearly vertical (82º), others are moderately
inclined (20º to 50º), and others run almost flat. The richest part, not
including the broken-off ore, is from eighteen inches to two feet broad.
It is decidedly more than 'one to two hundred years old,' as reported home
by a scientific official on the spot. The 'coffins,' or abandoned native
diggings, must date from at least two centuries ago. The natives scraped
off the gold-bearing stone till the water drove them out. The formation is
upper Silurian or lower Devonian, a transition to gneiss, but not highly
metamorphic. No fossils have yet been found: if any exist they would be
microscopic. Where talcose it is bluish, and shows streaks of 'black
sand,' titaniferous iron. The grey sand washes to white. There are
pot-holes which have been filled with either a pudding or a breccia of
quartz. In places the gneiss has been so little changed by heat and
pressure that it forms arenaceous flags and shales. It suggests a deposit
in some ancient lagoon, alternately fresh and salt. A hard fissile slate
of purple colour is based upon the ground-rock of grey granite; there is
also a modern clay-slate, which lies unconformably to the older, and
through it the great veins of gneiss and quartz seem to pass. The alluvial
detritus, which fills up the valleys to their present level, is formed by
the diluvium of the hills: in parts these bottoms show strata, from one to
three feet thick, of water-rolled pebbles bedded in clay. Here and there
the couch must be a hundred feet deep, and the whole should be raised for
washing by machinery. These strata were apparently deposited in a lagoon
of more modern date.
The gold is sometimes visible in the gneiss; and I have seen pieces whose
surface is dotted with yellow spots resembling pyrites. It is often in the
form of spangles called float-gold and flour-gold. Select specimens have
yielded upwards of eight ounces to the ton. If the blanketings and first
tailings be properly treated, it should afford an average of at least an
ounce and a half per ton. Treating a hundred tons a day gives a sum of
30,000 per annum; and, assuming 6_l_. of gold to the ton, we have a total
of 180,000_l_. The working of this section of the mine should not exceed
30,000_l_. a year, which leaves a net gain of 150,000_l_.
The _Bergwerke_ consist of four tunnels driven into the lower part of the
western hill-side, further down than the bottom of the abandoned native
workings. They are eccentrically disposed in curves and other queer
figures. All abut upon galleries running in sections along the lode-line,
and intended ultimately to connect. The total length may be a thousand
feet. Being cut in the gneiss, they require no timbering; but the floors
are little raised above the level of the rivulet, and water percolates
through roofs and walls. The latest tunnel has been driven past the new
gallery, and has struck a second lode; this has never been worked by the
natives, and stoping to above the springs may be found advisable.
Ventilation is managed by means of the old abandoned native shafts. A very
large quantity of ore is brought to bank. I found it hard to form an
estimate, because it was in scattered heaps overgrown with vegetation; but
I should not be surprised if it amounted to 5,000 tons. This means that
want of proper machinery has resulted in a dead capital of from 20,000_l_.
A space has been cleared on the level of the trams uniting the mouths of
the tunnel, and here will be placed the 'elephant-stamps' actually on
their way out. They have now two batteries, each of six head, worked by
the same shaft: the steam-engine, as usual, is the Belleville. The
material is bad; the gratings, on the levels of the dies, have been
smashed by the stones bombarding them, and the ill-constructed foundations
of native wood are eaten by white ants. Yet they have done duty for only
eighteen months. The sludge was treated in fancy amalgamators, especially
in one with a pan and revolving arms, probably evolved out of the inner
consciousness of some gentleman in Paris. The result was discharging
upwards of 1,500 lbs. of mercury into the valley below. A little amalgam
was obtained, and proved that the rock does contain gold--a fact perfectly
well known for centuries to the natives.
The history of the 'African Gold Coast' Mine in the hands of
Franco-English shareholders has already been noticed. M. Bonnat preferred
reworking the old native diggings to the virgin reefs lying north and
south of them. Some of the latter can be worked for years without pumping;
on the others the plant will be expensive. But the Company, instead of
mining, has gone deeply into concession-mongering, and their grants are
scattered broadcast over the country. One of them, the 'Mankuma,' near
Aodua, the capital of Eastern Apinto, extends twenty-six miles, with a
depth of 500 yards on either bank of the Ancobra River above the mouth of
the Abonsa influent. These gigantic areas will give rise to many lawsuits,
and no man in the country has power to make such a grant. The ownership of
the land is vested in a 'squirearchy,' so to speak, and only the
proprietors have a right to sell or lease. When gold is worked the
'squire' takes his royalty from the miner, and he or his chiefs must in
turn pay tribute to the 'king.' Hence the money may pass through three or
four hands before reaching its final destination.
These indiscriminate concessions will be very injurious to the future of
the Protectorate, and should be limited by law. At present the only use is
to sell them to syndicates and companies, and so to pay a fictitious
dividend to the _actionnaires_. Evidently such a process is rather on the
'bear and bull' system of the stock-market than legitimate mining.
I was well acquainted with the late M. Bonnat, a bright, cheery little
Frenchman of great energy, some knowledge of the Fanti, or rather the
Ashanti, language, and perfect experience of the native character. Born at
a village near Macon, he began life as a cook on board a merchant ship; he
soon became agent to some small French trading firm, and then pushed his
way high up the unexplored Volta River. Here the Ashantis barred his
passage, and eventually took him prisoner as he attempted to cross their
limits; he was carried to Kumasi, where he remained in confinement for
three years. When the war of 1873-1874 set him at liberty he passed
through Wasa to Europe, and by his local information, and that gathered in
captivity, he secured the public ear for the gold-mines. His later
proceedings are well known, and some of their unfortunate results are best
I met M. Bonnat last in June 1881; he was then going up to Takwa in
company with Messieurs Bowden and Macarthy, and I was canoeing down the
Ancobra on my way home. He was suffering severely from a carbuncular boil
on the thigh, which he refused to have properly opened. His death, which
occurred within a fortnight, is usually attributed to pleuro-pneumonia,
but I rather think it was due to blood-poisoning. He had been exposing
himself recklessly for some months, and two drenchings in the rain brought
him to his end; yet there are people who remember his visit to the
forbidden fetish-valley of Apatim. The father of the modern gold-mines,
the Frenchman who taught Englishmen how to work their own wealth, lies
buried at Takwa; I did not see his tomb.
The two French mines, Takwa and Abosu, have at last agreed to join hands
and to become one. The capital has been fixed at 250,000_l_., and Paris
will be the head-quarters. Mr. Arthur Bowden, the manager, has been sent
for to, and has now returned from France: it is to be hoped that his
extensive experience will instil some practical spirit into the new
RETURN TO AXIM AND DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE.
I awoke on Saturday, April 9, in bad condition, and during the afternoon
had my third attack of fever, the effect of the dam and its miasma.
Wanting change of air, and looking forward to Effuenta, I set off in my
hammock and found my friends. The tertian lasted me till Monday, Sunday
being an 'off-day;' and, as the Tuesday was wet and uncomfortable, I
delayed departure till Wednesday morning. My 'Warburg' had unfortunately
leaked out: the paper cover of the phial was perfect, but of the contents
only a little sediment remained. Treatment, therefore, was confined to
sulphate of quinine and a strychnine and arsenic pill; arseniate of
quinine would have been far better, but the excellent preparation is too
economical for the home-pharmist, and has failed to secure the favour of
the Coast-doctors. One of my friends has made himself almost fever-proof
by the liberal use of arsenic; but I can hardly recommend it, as the
result must be corrected by an equally liberal use of Allan's anti-fat.
Burton, who has studied its use amongst the Styrian arsenic-eaters, denies
that this is the common effect: he found that it makes the mountaineer
preserve his condition, wind and complexion, arms him against ague, and
adds generally to his health. He is still doubtful, however, whether it
shortens or prolongs life.
On Wednesday, April 12, I left Effuenta after morning tea. My hospitable
host had nearly seen the last of his stores, to which he had made me so
cordially welcome; and there were no signs of fresh supplies, although
they had long been due. This is hardly fair treatment for the hard-working
employe: let the Company look to it. With a certain tightening of the
heart I made over my canine friend, Nero, to Dr. Roulston. He had lost all
those bad habits which neglected education had engrafted upon the heat of
youth. He now began to show more fondness for sport than for
sheep-worrying; and he retrieved one bird, carrying it with the utmost
delicacy of mouth.
I set out on foot for Vinegar Hill, and found that the steep eastern
ascent from the Takwa ridge had been provided with a series of cut steps
by Mr. Commissioner: in these lands, as elsewhere, new brooms sweep clean;
but they are very easily worn out. This place has been for years the
'black beast' of travellers, especially in rainy weather, when the rapid
incline becomes so slippery that even the most sure-footed slither and
After crossing the Abonsa Hill I took to my hammock and was carried
through rain, and a very devilry of weather, into the Abonsa village. The
whole path was shockingly bad and muddy. Once more I became a lodger of
Mr. Crocker's; his house, being as usual far the best, gave us good
shelter for the night.
Next morning (7.30) we set out down the Abonsa stream in a small canoe
belonging to Mr. MacLennan. The natives made the usual difficulties; the
craft (which was quite sound) could not float, and amongst other things
she had no paddles: for this, however, I had provided by making my men cut
them last evening. Almost immediately after leaving this head of
navigation, barred above by a reef and a fall, we saw that eternal
mangrove. Presently the Aunabe creek broke the line of the right bank. Our
course was as usual exceedingly tortuous, turning to every quadrant of the
compass; and, during the last fortnight, the water-level had risen four
feet. The formation of the trough is that of the Ancobra, and the bed
bristles with rocks. In a distance of seven miles and a half by course
there were four small breaks, and one serious rapid about a hundred yards
long, where the decline exceeded five feet. Here the men had to get
overboard and to ease the canoe down the swirling waters, which dashed
heavily on the rocks. The snags were even thicker than on the upper
Ancobra, and were far more dangerous than on the St. John's. In places the
mangrove fallen from the banks had taken root in the river-bed. In fact,
unless some exertion be soon made, even the present insufficient channel
will be blocked up.
At the Abonsa _embouchure_ Mr. Wyatt's map, copied from M. Dahse, shows an
island backed by a ridge running nearly east-west. I found no river-holm,
and only a small broadening of the Ancobra to about double its usual
breadth. The banks at the sharp angle of junction are, however, low; and,
perhaps, my predecessor saw them when flooded. The Mankuma Hill, on the
right bank, belonging to the Franco-English Company, is somewhat taller
than its neighbours: as usual in this silted-up archipelago, it trends
from the north-east to the south-west.
I had already shot the Ancobra River when paddling up, and was not over
lucky when coming down. The big kingfisher did not put in an appearance,
and the sun-birds equally failed me: the smallest item of my collection
measures two and a quarter inches, and is robed in blue, crimson, and
sulphur. I was fortunate enough to bring home four specimens of a rare
spur-plover (_Lobivanellus albiceps_): they are now in Mr. Sharp's
department of the British Museum. I killed a few little snakes and one
large green tree-snake; two crocodiles, both lost in the river, and an
iguana, which found its way into the spirit-cask. A tzetze-fly (_Glossina
morsitans_) was captured in Effuenta House, curiously deserting its usual
habit of jungle-life in preference to a home on clear ground: its
dagger-like proboscis, in the grooved sheath with a ganglion of muscles at
the base, assimilated it to the dreaded and ferocious cattle-scourge which
extends from Zanzibar to the Tanganyika Lake and from Kilwa (Quiloa) to
the Transvaal. My kind friend and hospitable host Dr. (now Sir) John Kirk,
who did the geography and natural history for the lamentable Zambeze
expedition, met it close to the Victoria Falls. Burton also sent home a
specimen from the Gold Coast east of Accra.
Mr. MacLennan gave me sundry beetles, but insisted on retaining one which
is the largest I ever saw. The hunting-dog must scour the bush in packs,
for the voice is exactly that of hounds. The laugh of the hyaena and the
scream of the buzzard are commonly heard. The track of a 'bush-cow' once
crossed my path: the halves of the spoor were some five inches long by
three wide, and the hoofs knuckled backwards so as to show false hoofs of
almost equal size. I was unable to procure for Dr. Guenther a specimen of
the 'bush-dog,' as the Kruboys call it: last year I was bringing home a
live one in the s.s. _Nubia_; but one day the fellow in charge reported
that it was dead and had been thrown overboard. I hold it to be a tailless
lemur, the _galago_ of the East Coast. The French name is _orson_, the
popular idea being that it is an ursine. The Fanti peoples, whose
'folk-lore' is extensive, and who have some tale about every bird, beast,
and fish, thus account for the loud cries which we heard at night in every
'bush.' King Leo, having lost his mother, commanded by proclamation all
his subjects to attend her funeral, and none failed save Orson. One
evening his Feline Majesty, when going his rounds, found the delinquent
upon the ground, and roughly demanded the reason why. Orson, shuffling
towards the nearest tree, pleaded in all humility, 'O King, is thy beloved
parent really deceased? I never heard of it. I am so sorry; I would never
have failed to show the respect due to the royal house.' When he had
climbed the foot of the tree his tone began to alter. 'But, Sire, if thy
Majesty hath lost a mother, I see no cause compelling me to attend her
funeral.' And when quite safe the change was notable. 'Bother the old
woman! very glad she is dead, and may her grave be defiled!' These people
know the stuff of which courtiers are made.
My collection of specimens from the mines and the river-beds filled a
dozen cases. The butterflies, of which we collected a large number, were
all spoilt by the moth for want of camphor. 'Insect-powder' had been our
only preservative. I had also a thirty-gallon cask of plants preserved in
spirits, two boxes well stuffed, a large case of orchids, and a raceme of
the bamboo-palm (_Raphia vinifera_), whose use has still to be found. The
animals, including insects in tubes, filled nearly two kegs and three
bottles, and I had two small cases of stuffed birds, the handiwork of Mr.
Of stone-implements I was lucky enough to secure thirty-six, and made over
four of them to my friend Professor Prestwich. They are found everywhere
throughout the country, but I saw no place of manufacture except those
noted near Axim. Mr. Sam, of Tumento, promised to forward many others to
England. The native women search for and find them not only near the beds
of streams, but also about the alluvial diggings. Nearly all are shaped
like the iron axe or adze of Urua, in Central Africa, a long narrow blade
with rounded top and wedge-shaped edge. This tool is either used in the
hand like a chisel, or inserted into a conical hole burnt through a
tree-branch, and the shape of the aperture makes every blow tighten the
hold. The people mount it in two ways, either as an axe in line with, or
as an adze at a right angle to, the helve.
At Akankon I obtained from Mr. Amondsen a stone-implement of novel shape,
not seen by me elsewhere. A bit of the usual close-grained trap had been
cut into a parallelopiped seven and a half inches long with a flat head
one inch and a half in diameter and a bevel-edge of two inches and
one-third along the slope. This part had been chipped ready for grinding,
and the article was evidently unfinished; one side still wanted polishing,
and the part opposite the bevel showed signs of tapering, as if a point
instead of an edge had been intended. At Axim I split off by gads and
wedges a large slice of the grooved rocks described by Burton; it came
home with me, and is now lodged in the British Museum.
The rest of my story is told in a few words. I canoed safely down the
Ancobra River, and reached Axim on April 14. This return was made sad and
solitary by the absence of my canine friend, Nero.
A week soon passed away at the port of the Gold-region. Mr. Grant
presently returned from his excursion to the west. He showed me fine
specimens of gold collected at Newtown, the English frontier-settlement
immediately east of French Assini. I had also warned him to look out for,
and he succeeded in finding, beds of bitumen permeated with petroleum:
this material will prove valuable for fuel and for asphalting, if not for
sale. My time was wholly taken up with papering and repacking my
collection, which had now assumed formidable proportions, and time fled
the faster as the days were occupied in also fighting an impertinent
attack of ague and fever.
On April 24 the B. and A. s.s. _Loanda_ (Captain Brown) anchored in the
roads. Mr. Grant accompanied me on board, and showed himself useful and
energetic as usual. At Cape Palmas we shipped the Honourable Doctor and
Professor Blyden. He pointed out to me certain hillocks on the coast about
Grand Bassa, where he said gold had lately been found. The lay of the land
and the strike and shape of the eminences reminded me strongly of those I
had left behind me. The 'Secretary of the Interior,' who had been
compelled to leave his college, assured me that if wiser counsels prevail
Liberia will abandon her old Japanese policy of exclusion, and will open
her ports to European capital and enterprise. At Sierra Leone I called
upon Governor Havelock, who was recovering from the accident of a
dislocated shoulder. Both he and the 'Governess' were in the best of
health. At Madeira, on May 12, my companion Burton joined us, and we had a
week of dull passage to Liverpool. As we left on Friday and carried a
reverend gentleman on board, the cranky old craft was sorely tossed about
for two successive days, and we were delayed off the Liverpool bar,
arriving on the 20th instead of the 18th of May, 1882.
The journey and the voyage ended, as such things should do, with a dinner
of welcome at the Adelphi, given to us by our hospitable friend Mr. James
Irvine. And here we had the first opportunity of delivering the message
which we had brought home from the Golden Land.
Sec.1. THE ASHANTI SCARE.
That fears of an Ashanti attack upon the mines of the Gold Coast
Protectorate are rather fanciful than factual we may learn from the
details of the Blue Book 'Gold Coast, 1881.' The 'threatened Ashanti
invasion,' popularly termed the 'Ashanti scare,' did abundant good by
showing up the weakness of that once powerful despotism, and the
superiority in numbers and in equipment of the coastlanders over the
inlanders. It is true that there are tribes, like the Awunahs of the
Volta, and villages, like Bein in Apollonia, which still sympathise with
our old enemy. But only the grossest political mismanagement, like that
which in 1876 abandoned our ally, the King of Juabin, to the tender
mercies of his Ashanti foeman, aided by the unwisest economy, which
starves everything to death save the treasure-chest, will ever bring about
a general movement against us.
On December 1, 1880, died, to the general regret of native and stranger,
Mr. Ussher, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Gold Coast; a veteran
in the tropics and an ex-commissariat officer, whose political service
dated from 1861. In British India a change of rulers is always supposed to
offer a favourable opportunity for 'doing something,' often in the shape
of a revolt or a campaign. The same proved to be the case in West Africa,
where the Ashanti is officially described as 'crafty, persistent,
mendacious, and treacherous.'
It may easily be imagined that after the English victories at Amoaful and
Ordusu in 1873-74 the African despotism sighed for _la revanche_. The
Treaty of Fomana, concluded (February 13), after the capture (February 4)
and the firing (February 6) of Kumasi, between Sir Garnet Wolseley and the
representative of the King, Kofi Kalkali, or Kerrikerri, subsequently
dethroned, stripped her of her principal dependencies--lopped off, in
fact, her four limbs. These were the ever-hostile province of Denkira,
auriferous Akim, Adansi, and lastly Assin, now part of our Protectorate.
The measure only renewed the tripartite treaty of April 27, 1831, when
King Kwako Dua, in consideration of free access to the seaboard, and in
friendship with the unfortunate and ill-treated Governor (George) Maclean,
'renounced all right or title to any tribute, or homage, from the Kings of
Denkira, Assin, and others formerly his subjects.' But _nulla fronti
fides_ is the rule of the hideous little negro despotism, which, in 1853,
again invaded the coveted lands on its southern frontier, Assin.
The treaty of 1874, moreover, compelled Ashanti formally to renounce all
pretensions to sovereignty over Elmina and the tribes formerly in
connection with the Dutch Government. It vetoed her raids and forays upon
neighbouring peoples; like Dahome she had her annual slave-hunts and the
captives were sold for gold-dust to the inner tribes. The young officers
who replaced the veterans of the war would naturally desire, in Kafir
parlance, to 'wash their spears.' Nor are they satisfied with the defeats
sustained by their sires. 'I believe,' wrote Winwood Reade, 'that Sir
Garnet Wolseley attained the main object of the expedition, namely, the
securing of the Protectorate from periodical invasion. Yet still I wish
that the success had been more definite and complete.' The wish is echoed
by most people on the coast; and the natives still say, 'White man he go
up Kumasi, he whip black boy, and then he run away.'
It is regretable that the Commander-in-Chief, if he could not occupy
Kumasi himself, did not leave Sir John H. Glover in charge, and especially
that he did not destroy the Bantama (royal place of human sacrifice),
[Footnote: Sir Garnet Wolseley's admirable conduct of the Egyptian
campaign, where he showed all the qualities which make up the sum of
'generalship,' have wiped out the memory of his failures in Ashanti and
Kafir-land. Better still, he has proved that the British soldier can
still fight, a fact upon which the disgraceful Zulu campaign had cast
considerable doubt. But the public ignores a truth known to every
professional. Under an incompetent or unlucky commander all but the best
men will run: the worst will allow themselves to be led or driven to
victory by one they trust. Compare the Egyptian troops under old Ibrahim
Pasta, and under Arabi, the Fe-lah-Pasha.] or at least remove from it the
skull of Sir Charles Macarthy. [Footnote: Captain Brackenbury throws doubt
upon the skull being preserved in the Bantama; but his book is mainly
apologetic, and we may ask, If the cherished relic be not there, where is
it? The native legend runs thus: 'And they took him (_i.e._ Macarthy) and
cut off his head, and brought it to their camp and removed the brains; but
the skull, which was left, they filled it with gold, and they roasted the
whole body and they carried it to Ashanti.... And the head, which they
bore to Ashanti, has become their "fetish," which they worship till this
day.'--Native account of Macarthy's death, Zimmermann's _Grammar of the
Accra or Ga Language_, Stuttgart, 1858.] And yet we now learn that the
campaign did good work. Captain Lonsdale, who has spent some time in
Kumasi, reports that the Caboceers have built huts instead of repairing
their 'palaces.' Moreover, he declares that the story of sacrificing girls
to mix their blood with house-swish is a pure fabrication; the Ashantis
would no longer dare to do anything so offensive to the conqueror.
Last on the list of solid Ashanti grievances is her exclusion from the
seaboard. Unknown to history before A.D. 1700, the Despotism first invaded
the Coast in 1807, when King Osai Tutu Kwamina pretended a wish to recover
the fugitive chiefs Chibbu and Aputai. These attacks succeeded one another
at intervals of ten years, say the Fantis. The main object was to secure a
port on the coast, where the inlanders could deal directly with the white
man, and could thus escape the unconscionable pillaging, often fifty per
cent. and more, of the Fanti middleman. This feeling is not, indeed,
unknown to Europe: witness Montenegro. I see no reason why the people
should not have an 'Ashantimile' at the Volta mouth; and I shall presently
return to this subject.
Hardly was Governor Ussher buried than troubles began. Mr. Edmund Watt, a
young District-commissioner at Cape Coast Castle, officially reported to
Lieutenant-Governor W. B. Griffith, subsequently Administrator of Lagos,
that Opoku, 'King' of Bekwa (Becquah), had used language tending to a
breach of the peace. This commander-in-Chief of the Ashanti forces in
1873-74 had publicly sworn in his sober senses at Kumasi, and in presence
of the new king, Kwamina Osai Mensah, that he would perforce reduce
Adansi, the hill-country held to be the southern boundary of Ashanti-land.
Such a campaign would have been an infraction of treaty, or at least a
breach of faith: although the province is not under the protection of the
Colonial Government, King Kofi Kalkali [Footnote: This ruler succeeded his
father, King Kwako Dua, in 1868; and his compulsory abdication is
considered to have been an ill-advised measure.] had promised to respect
its independence and to leave it unmolested.
Lieutenant-Governor Griffith lost no time in forwarding the report to the
Colonial Office, adding sundry disquieting rumours which supported his
suspicions. Missionaries and merchants had observed that certain
'messengers,' or envoys, sent from Kumasi to acknowledge the presents of
the late Governor Ussher, were lingering without apparent reason about
Cape Coast Castle, after being formally dismissed. Moreover, their
residing in the house of 'Prince Ansah,' a personage not famous for plain
dealing, boded no good.
A new complication presently arose. Prince Owusu, nephew of the King and
heir to the doughty Gyaman kingdom, fled from Kumasi to the Protectorate,
and reached Elmina on January 18. He appeared in great fear, and declared
that a son of the chief Amankwa Kwoma and three 'court-criers,' or
official heralds, were coming down to the coast on a solemn mission to
demand his extradition. They carried, he said, not the peaceful cane with
the gold or silver head, but the mysterious 'Gold Axe.' Opinions at once
differed as to the import and object of this absurd implement. According
to some its mission portended war, and it had preceded the campaigns of
1863 and 1873. Others declared that it signified a serious 'palaver,'
being a strong hint that the King would cut through and down every
obstacle. Strange to say, the first Ashanti messengers were never called
upon to explain before the public what the 'Gold Axe' really did mean.
The Colonial Office acted with spirit and wholesome vigour. It was urged
on by Mr. Griffith, whose energetic reports certainly saved the
Protectorate grave troubles. He has thereby incurred much blame, ridicule,
and obloquy; nor has he received due credit from those under whom he
The newly-appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Gold Coast, Sir
Samuel Rowe, at once ordered out to relieve Mr. Griffith, left England in
mid-February. He was accompanied by a staff of seven officers temporarily
employed. Reinforcements were hurried from Sierra Leone and the West
Indies. The Admiralty was applied to for the reunion of cruisers upon the
Gold Coast waters. Estimates of native allies were drawn up, showing that
20,000 half-armed men could be brought into the field against the 30,000
of Ashanti. The loyal and powerful chief Kwamina Blay, of Atabo, in
Amrehia, or Western Apollonia, offered 6,000 muskets, and an additional
1,000 hands if the Government would supply arms and ammunition.
On January 19 the ambassador with the 'Gold Axe' presented himself at
Elmina. He was accompanied by Saibi Enkwia, who had signed the treaty at
Fomana, a village in Assin, between Kumasi and the Bosom Prah River. The
envoy formally demanded possession of Prince Owusu and of one Amangkra, an
Ashanti trader who had aided him to escape. Saibi Enkwia added by way of
threat, 'The King said, if the Governor would not order the return of
Owusu to Kumasi, he would attack the Assins.' He further explained that
these Assins were the people who always caused 'palavers' between the
Ashantis and the Protectorate, to which they belonged.
Naturally the ignominious demand was refused. The messengers left for
Kumasi, and Lieutenant-Governor Griffith telegraphed from Madeira to
England (January 25), 'War imminent with Ashanti.' It was considered
suspicious that all the inlanders were disappearing from the coast. This
was afterwards explained: they were flocking north for the 'native
Christmas,' the Yam-custom, or great festival of the year.
Our preparations were pushed forward the more energetically as time
appeared to be tight. The Ashantis were buying up all the weapons they
could find when the sale of arms, ammunition, and salt was prohibited.
Detachments were despatched to the Mansu and Prahsu stations; the latter
is upon the Bosom (Abosom, or Sacred) Prah, the frontier between Ashanti
and the Protectorate, to cross which is to 'pass the Rubicon.' Here, as at
other main fords and ferries, defensive works were laid out. Arrangements
were made for holding nine out of the eighteen forts, abandoning the rest;
and Accra was strengthened as the central place. The 'companies,' or
'native levies,' who, with a suspicious unanimity, applied for guns and
gunpowder, lead and flints, were urged to the 'duty of defence.' Five
cruisers, under Commander (now Captain, R.N.) J. W. Brackenbury, were
stationed off the three chief castles, Elmina, Cape Coast, and Anamabo,
and the naval contingent was drilled daily on shore. The Haussa
constabulary was reinforced. The First West India Regiment sent down men
from Sierra Leone, and the Second 500 rank and file from Barbadoes. In
fact, such ardour was shown that the Ashantis, scared out of their
intentions of scaring, began to fear another English invasion. 'The white
men intend to take Kumasi again!' they said; and perhaps the reflection
that 48,000 ounces of gold were still due to us suggested a motive. They
had been making ready for offence; now they prepared for defence.
About mid-February the 'situation' notably changed. Messieurs Buck and
Huppenbauer, two German missionaries who were making a 'preaching-tour,'
reported from Kumasi that King Mensah was afraid of war, and that his
kingdom was 'on the point to go asunder.' The despot, with African
wiliness, at once threw the blame of threatening Assin upon his confidant,
Saibi Enkwia. No one believed that an Ashantiman would thus expose himself
to certain death; but the explanation served for an excuse. The King also
asserted that his 'Gold Axe' meant simply nothing. Thereupon the officials
of the Protectorate began looking forward to an ample apology, and to a
fine of gold-dust for the disturbing of their quiet days. In fact, they
foresaw 'peace with honour.'
Governor Sir Samuel Rowe, with his usual good fortune, landed at Elmina on
March 9, exactly the right time. The attempt to intimidate had ignobly
failed, and had recoiled upon the attempter. King Mensah, in order to
remove all suspicions of intending a campaign, had resolved to send
coastwards the most important and ceremonious mission of the age. It was
to conclude a kind of _Paix des Dames_. Queen Kokofu had threatened that
in case of hostilities she would go over to the British. The Queen-mother,
a power in the country, which has often kept the peace for it and plunged
it into war, threatened to take her own life--and here such threats are
always followed by action. In fact, the peace-party had utterly overthrown
The mission left Kumasi in May. It was headed by Prince Bwaki, step-father
to the two royal brothers, Kofi Kalkali and Kwabina Osai Mensah, and the
number as well as the high rank of the retinue made it remarkable. At
Prahsu, where the envoys were met by Governor Rowe, a preliminary
conversation took place. Despite the usual African and barbarian fencing
and foiling, the Englishman carried the day; the message must be delivered
with all publicity and proper ceremony in the old 'palaver-hall' of
historic Elmina Castle.
A conclusive interview took place on May 30. Prince Bwaki explained that
'mistakes had been made, but that the mistakes had not been alone those of
his king and son-in-law.' He declared that the messenger, Saibi Enkwia,
had exceeded his powers in threatening Assin. The King, he said, had sworn
by 'God and earth,' that is, by the 'spirits' above and by the ghosts
below, that he had sent no such message. At the same time the King
confessed being partly to blame, as the message had been delivered by his
own servant. In the matter of the 'Gold Axe,' however, the mistake was the
mistake of the Lieutenant-Governor (Griffith).
The Prince further explained that Ashanti has two symbols of war, a
peculiar sword and a certain cap; whereas the 'Gold Axe' being 'fetish'
and endowed with some magical and mysterious power, is never sent on a
hostile errand. He offered, in the King's name, as further evidence of
friendly feeling, to surrender the 'so-called Golden Axe,' which important
symbol of Ashanti power had been forwarded from head-quarters with an
especial mission. It was delivered on the express understanding that it
should be despatched to England for the acceptance of H.B. Majesty, and
not be kept upon the coast, exposed to the ribaldry of the hostile Fantis.
The weapon, said Prince Bwaki, is so old that no one knows its origin, and
it is held so precious that in processions it precedes the Great Royal
Stool, or throne, of Ashanti. The leopard-skin, bound with gold upon the
handle, symbolises courage in the field; the gold is wealth, and the iron
Finally, the unhappy 'Gold Axe,' after being publicly paraded upon a
velvet cushion through the streets of Elmina, was entrusted to Captain
Knapp Barrow, who returned to England by the next steamer. It was duly
presented, and found its way to the South Kensington Museum, after faring
very badly at the hands of the 'society journals' and other members of the
fourth estate. [Footnote: For instance: 'The gold axe of King Koffee of
Ashantee, lately sent, for an unexplained reason, to the Queen, is
described as a triangular blade of iron, apparently out from a piece of
boiler-plate, roughly stuck into a clumsy handle of African oak. The
handle is covered with leopard-skin, part of which, immediately above the
blade, is deeply soiled, apparently with blood. Bands of thin gold,
enriched with uncouth chevrons and lunettes _en repousse_, are placed
round the handle. The sheath of the blade, which is of tiger (leopard)
skin, accompanies this hideous implement, and attached to it is the sole
element which has anything like artistic merit. This is a nondescript
object of beaten gold, in shape something like a large cockle-shell with
curved horns extending from the hinge, and not inelegantly decorated with
lines and punctures, _en repousse_ and open work of quasi-scrolls.']
Needless to say it was an utter impostor. The real Golden Axe is great
'fetish,' and never leaves either Kumasi or, indeed, the presence of the
The ceremony of delivering the message in the palaver-hall was
satisfactory. Prince Bwaki grasped the knees of Governor Rowe, the
official sign of kneeling. He expressed the devotion of his liege lord to
the Majesty of England; and finally he offered to pay down at once two
thousand ounces of gold in proof of Ashantian sincerity. All these
transactions were duly recorded; the promises in the form of a bond.
The play was now played out; cruisers and troops dispersed, and golden
Peace reigned once more supreme. Prince Owusu, a drunken, dissolute
Eupatrid, who had caused the flutter, when ordered on board a man-of-war
for transportation to a place of safety, relieved the Gold Coast from
further trouble. He was found hanging in the 'bush' behind Elmina Castle.
Most men supposed it to be a case of suicide; a few of course surmised
that he had been kidnapped and murdered by orders from Kumasi.
Since that time to the present day our Protectorate has been free from
'scare.' The affair, as it happened, did abundant good by banishing all
fear for the safety of the Wasa (Wassaw) diggings. During the worst times
not a single English employe of the mines had left his post to take refuge
in the Axim fort. This does them honour, as some of the establishments lay
within handy distance of the ferocious black barbarians.
The native chiefs, especially 'King Blay,' proved themselves able and
willing to aid us in whatever difficulties might occur. The kingdom of
Gyaman further showed that it can hold its own against shorn Ashanti, or
rather that it is becoming the more powerful of the two. The utter failure
of the scare is an earnest that, under normal circumstances, while King
Mensah, a middle-aged man, occupies the 'stool,' we shall hear no more of
'threatened Ashanti invasions.'
But the true way to pacify the despotism is to allow Ashanti to 'make a
beach'--in other words, to establish a port. This measure I have supported
for the last score of years, but to very little purpose. The lines of
objection are two. The first is in the mercantile. As all the world knows,
commercial interests are sure to be supported against almost any other in
a reformed House of Commons; and, in the long run, they gain the day. The
Coast-tribes under our protection are mere brokers and go-betweens, backed
up and supported by the wholesale merchant, because he prefers _quieta non
movere_, and he fears lest the change be from good to bad. I, on the other
hand, contend that both our commerce and customs would gain, in quantity
as well as in quality, by direct dealings with the peoples of the
interior. The second, or sentimental, line belongs to certain newspapers;
and even _their_ intelligence can hardly believe the _ad captandum_
farrago which they indite. The favourite 'bunkum' is about 'baring the
Christian negro's throat to the Ashanti knife.' But the Fantis and other
Coast-tribes were originally as murderous and bloodthirsty in their
battles and religious rites as their northern neighbours: if there be any
improvement it is wholly due to the presence and the pressure, physical as
well as moral, of Europeans--of Christians, if you like. Even Whydah is
not blood-stained like Agbome, because it has been occupied by a few
slavers, white and brown. Why, then, should the Ashantis be refused the
opportunity and the means of amendment? Ten years' experience in Africa
teaches me that they would be as easily reformed as the maritime peoples;
and it is evident that the sentimentalist, if he added honesty and common
sense to the higher quality, should be the first to advocate the trial.
But I would not allow the Ashantis to hold a harbour anywhere near Elmina.
They should have their 'mile' and beach east of the Volta River, where
they would soon effect a lodgment, despite all the opposition of their
sanguinary friends and our ferocious enemies the Awunah and the Krepi
I will end this paper with a short notice of the kingdom of Gyaman,
generally written Gaman and too often pronounced 'Gammon.' Its strength
and vigour are clearly increasing; it is one of the richest of
gold-fields, and it lies directly upon the route to the interior. Of late
years it has almost faded from the map, but it is described at full length
in the pages of Barbot (1700) and Bosman (1727), of Bowdich (1818), and of
Dupuis (1824). They assign to it for limits Mandenga-land to the north and
west; to the south, Aowin and Bassam, and the Tando or eastern fork of the
Assini to the east. This Tando, which some moderns have represented as an
independent stream, divides it from Ashanti-land, lying to the south and
the south-east. Dupuis places the old capital, Bontuko, whence the Gyamans
were formerly called 'Bontukos,' eight stages north-west of Kumasi; and
the new capital, Huraboh, five marches beyond Bontuko. The country, level
and grassy, begins the region north of the great forest-zone which
subtends the maritime mangrove swamps. It breeds horses and can command
Moslem allies, equestrian races feared by the Ashantis.
The Gyamans, according to their tradition, migrated, or rather were
driven, southwards from their northern homes. This was also, as I have
said, the case with the Fantis and Ashantis; the latter occupied their
present habitat about 1640, and at once became the foes of all their
neighbours. King Osai Tutu, 'the Great,' first of Ashanti despot-kings
(1719), made Gyaman tributary. The conquest was completed by his
brother-successor, Osai Apoko (1731), who fined Abo, the neighbour-king,
in large sums of gold and fixed an annual subsidy. Gyaman, however,
rebelled against Osai Kwajo (Cudjoe), the fourth of the dynasty (1752),
and twice defeated him with prodigious slaughter. The Ashanti invader
brought to his aid Moslem cavalry, and succeeded in again subjugating the
insurgents. The conquered took no action against the fifth king, but they
struck for independence under Osai Apoko II (1797). Aided by Moslem and
other allies, they crossed the Tando and fought so sturdily that the enemy
'liberally bestowed upon them the titles of warlike and courageous.' The
Ashantis at length compelled the Moslems of their country to join them,
and ended by inflicting a crushing defeat upon the invaders.
Osai Tutu Kwamina, on coming to the throne (1800), engaged in the campaign
against Gyaman called, for distinction, the 'first Bontuko war.' He
demanded from King Adinkara his ancestral and royal stool, which was
thickly studded and embossed with precious metal. The craven yielded it
and purchased peace. His brave sister presently replaced it by a seat of
solid gold: this the Ashanti again requisitioned, together with a large
gold ornament in the shape of an elephant, said to have been dug from some
ruins. The Amazon replied, with some detail and in the 'spade' language,
that she and her brother should exchange sexes, and that she would fight
_a l'outrance_; whereupon the Ashanti, with many compliments about her
bravery, gave her twelve months to prepare for a campaign.
In 1818 Dupuis found Ashanti engaged in the 'second Bontuko war' with
Adinkara, who had again thrown off his allegiance. But small-pox was
raging in the capital, and this campaign ended (1819-20) with the defeat
and death of the womanly monarch, with a massacre of 10,000 prisoners, and
with the sale of 20,000 captives. Thus Gyaman was again annexed to
Ashanti-land as a province, instead of enjoying the rank of a tributary
kingdom; and the conqueror's dominions extended from Cape Lahou (W. long.
4º 36') through Gyaman to the Volta River (E. long. 0º 42' 18"), a
coast-line of some 318 direct geographical miles.
Gyaman, however, seems to have had a passion for liberty. She fought again
and again to recover what she had lost in 1820; and, on more occasions
than one, she was successful in battle. During the 'Ashanti scare' the
sturdy kingdom was preparing for serious hostilities; and a little war of
six or seven months had already been waged between the neighbours. The
late Prince Owusu, before mentioned, deposed before the authorities of our
Protectorate as follows: 'At Kumasi I was ordered to eat the skull of the
late King of Gyaman, which was kept there as a trophy from the conquest of
Gyaman; but I did not do it.' He also asserted that, in 1879, a white man,
Nielson, and his interpreter, Huydecooper, had been sent by an intriguer
to Gyaman, bearing a pretended message from the British Government and the
Fanti chiefs, enjoining the King to conclude peace with the Ashantis, and
to restore their 3,700 captives. Neither of these men saw the ruler of
Gyaman, and it is believed that Nielson, having begun a quarrel by firing
upon the people, was killed in the fray.
At this moment Gyaman is battling with her old enemies, and threatens to
be a dangerous rival, if not a conqueror. Here, then, we may raise a
strong barrier against future threats of Ashanti invasion, and make
security more secure. The political officers of the Protectorate will be
the best judges of the steps to be taken; and, if they are active and
prudent, we shall hear no more of the Kumasi bugbear.
* * * * *
Sec.2. THE LABOUR-QUESTION IN WESTERN AFRICA.
In their present condition our African colonies are colonies only because
they are administered by the Colonial Office.
Most of these stations--for such they should be termed--were established,
for slaving purposes, by the Portuguese, and were conquered by the Dutch.
Thence they passed into the hands of England, who vigorously worked the
black _traite_ for the benefit of her West Indian possessions.
The 'colonies' in question, however, saw their occupation gone with negro
emancipation, and they became mere trading-ports and posts for collecting
ground-nuts, palm-oil, and gold-dust. Philanthropy and freedom expected
from them great things; but instead of progressing they have gradually and
surely declined. The public calls them 'pest-houses,' and the Government
pronounces them a 'bore.' Travellers propose to make them over to Liberia
or to any Power that will accept such white elephants.
Remains now the task of placing upon the path of progress these wretched
West African 'colonies,' and of making them a credit and a profit to
England, instead of a burden and an opprobrium.
Immigration, I find, is _le mot de l'enigme_.
Between 1860 and 1865 I studied the labour-question in West Africa, and my
short visit in 1882 has convinced me that it is becoming a vital matter
for our four unfortunate establishments, Bathurst, Sierra Leone, the Gold
Coast, and Lagos.
A score of years ago many agreed with me that there was only one solution
for our difficulties, a system of extensive coolie-importation. But in
those days of excited passions and divided interests, when the export
slave-trade and the _emigration libre_ were still rampant on either coast,
it was by no means easy to secure a fair hearing from the public. Not a
small nor an uninfluential section, the philanthropic and the missionary,
raised and maintained the cuckoo-cry, 'Africa for the Africans!'--worthy
of its successor, 'Ireland for the Irish!' Others believed in imported
labour, which has raised so many regions to the height of prosperity; but
they did not see how to import it. And the general _vis inertiae_, peculiar
to hepatic tropical settlements, together with the unwillingness, or
rather the inability, to undertake anything not absolutely necessary, made
many of the colonists look upon the proposal rather as a weariness to the
flesh than a benefit. A chosen few steadily looked forward to it; but they
contented themselves with a theoretical prospect, and, perhaps wisely, did
not attempt action.
The condition of the Coast, however, has radically changed during the last
two decades. The export slave-trade has died the death, never to
'resurrect.' The immense benefits of immigration are known to all men,
theoretically and practically. India and China have thrown open their
labour-markets. And, finally, the difficulty of finding hands, for
agriculture especially, in Western Africa has now come to a crisis.
Here I must be allowed a few words of preliminary explanation. In this
matter, the reverse of Europe, Africa, whose social system is built upon
slavery, holds field-work, and indeed all manual labour, degrading to the
free man. The idea of a 'bold peasantry, its country's pride,' is utterly
alien to Nigritia. The husband hunts, fights, and trades--that is to say,
peddles--he leaves sowing and reaping to his wives and his chattels. Even
a slave will rather buy him a slave than buy his own liberty. 'I am free
enough,' he says; 'all I want is a fellow to serve me.' The natives of the
Dark Continent are perfectly prepared to acknowledge that work is a curse;
and, so far scripturally, they deem
Labour the symbol of man's punishment.
No Spaniard of the old school would despise more than a negro those
new-fangled notions glorifying work now familiar to stirring and bustling
North Europe. Nor will these people exert themselves until, like the
Barbadians, they must either sweat or starve. Example may do something to
stir them, but the mere preaching of industry is hopeless. I repeat: their
_beau ideal_ of life is to do nothing for six days in the week and to rest
on the seventh. They are quite prepared to keep, after their fashion, 365
sabbaths per annum.
In the depths of Central Africa, where a European shows a white face for
the first time, the wildest tribes hold markets once or twice a week;
these meetings on the hillside or the lake-bank are crowded, and the din
and excitement are extreme. Armed men, women, and children may be seen
dragging sheep and goats, or sitting under a mat-shade through the
livelong days before their baskets and bits of native home-spun, the whole
stock in trade consisting perhaps of a few peppers, a heap of palm-nuts,
or strips of manioc, like pipe-clay. This savage scene is reflected in the
comparatively civilised stations all down the West African coast, where
the inexperienced and ardent philanthrope is apt to suppose that the lazy,
feckless habits are not nature-implanted but contracted by contact with a
more advanced stage of society.
Again, in many parts of Africa the richest lands, and those most
favourably situated, are either uninhabited or thinly peopled, the result
of intestine wars or of the export slave-trade. Mr. Administrator
Goulsbury, of Bathurst, during his adventurous march from the Gambia to
the Sierra Leone River, crossed league after league of luxuriant ground
and found it all desert. He says, [Footnote: Blue Book of 1882, quoted in
Chap. X.] 'I think the fact has never been sufficiently recognised that
Africa, and especially the west coast of the continent, is but very
sparsely populated.... It is not only very limited, but is, I believe, if
not stationary, actually decreasing in numbers.... I commend this fact to
the consideration of those who indulge in day-dreams as to the almost
unlimited increase of commerce which they fondly imagine is to be the
result and reward of opening up the interior of the country.'
In regions richer than the Upper Gambia the disappearance of man is ever
followed by a springing of bush and forest so portentous that a few hands
are helpless and hopeless. Such is the case with the great wooded belt
north of the Gold Coast, where even the second-growth becomes impenetrable
without the matchet, and where the swamps and muds, bred and fed by
torrential rains, bar the transit of travellers. The Whydah and Gaboon
countries are notable specimens of once populous regions now all but
Nothing more surprising, to men who visit Africa for the first time, than
the over-wealth of labour in Madeira and its penury on the Western Coast.
At Bathurst they find ships loading or unloading by the work of the Golah
women, whose lazy husbands live upon the hardly-earned wage. They see the
mail-steamers landing ton after ton of Chinese rice shipped _via_ England.
The whole country with its humid surface and its reeking, damp-hot climate
is a natural rice-bed. The little grain produced by it is far better than
the imported, but there are no hands to work the ground. It is the same
with salt, which is cheaper when brought from England: no man has the
energy to lay out a salina; and, if he did, its outlay, under 'Free
Trade,' would be greater than its income.
Steaming along the picturesque face of the Sierra Leone peninsula, the
stranger remarks with surprise that its most fertile ridges and slopes
hardly show a field, much less a farm, and that agriculture is confined to
raising a little garden-stuff for the town-market. The peasant, the hand,
is at a discount. The Sierra Leonite is a peddler-born who aspires to be a
trader, a merchant; or he looks to a learned profession, especially the
law. The term 'gentleman-farmer' has no meaning for him. Of late years a
forcing process has been tried, and a few plantations have been laid out,
chiefly for the purpose, it would appear, of boasting and of vaunting the
new-grown industry at home. Mr. Henry M. Stanley remarks [Footnote:
_Coomassie and Magdala_, p. 8], 'In almost every street in Sierra Leone I
heard the voice of praise and local prayer from the numerous aspirants to
clerkships and civil service employ; but I am compelled to deny that I
ever heard the sound of mallet and chisel, of mortar, pestle, and trowel,
the ringing sound of hammer on anvil, or roar of forge, which, to my
practical mind, would have had a far sweeter sound. There is virgin land
in the neighbourhood of Sierra Leone yet untilled; there are buildings in
the town yet unfinished; there are roads for commerce yet to be made; the
trade of the African interior yet waits to be admitted into the capacious
harbour of Sierra Leone for the enrichment of the fond nursing-mother of
races who sits dreamily teaching her children how to cackle instead of how
The same apathy to agriculture prevails in Liberia. For the last forty
years large plantations have been laid out on the noble St. Paul River
between Cape Mount and Mount Mesurado. The coffee-shrub, like the
copal-tree, belts Africa from east to west--from Harar, where I saw it,
through Karague, where it grows wild, the bean not being larger than a
pin's head, to Manywema, in the Congo valley, and to the West Coast,
especially about the Rio Nunez, north of Sierra Leone. It is of the finest
quality, second only to the Mocha; but what hope is there of its
development? The Vay tribe, which holds the land, is useless; the rare new
comers from America will work, but the older settlers will not; and there
is hardly money enough to pay Krumen.
On the Gold Coast there is no exceptional scarcity of population: under
normal circumstances, the labour-market is sufficiently supplied, but a
strain soon exhausts it. Sir Garnet Wolseley found his greatest difficulty
in the want of workmen: he was obliged to apply for 500 British navvies;
and, at one time, he thought of converting the first and second West India
Regiments, with Wood's and Russell's men, into carriers. On the other
hand, the conduct of the women was admirable; as the conqueror said in the
Mansion House, he hardly wondered at the King of Dahome keeping up a corps
of 'Amazons.' I shall presently return to the gold-mines.
At Lagos M. Colonna, Consular Agent for France, informs me that by his
firm alone 600 hands are wanted for field-service, and that the number
might rise to a thousand. He would also be glad to hire artisans,
blacksmiths and carpenters, masons and market-gardeners. The Yorubas from
the upper country, who will engage for three years, demand from a franc to
a shilling per diem, rations not given. Labour ranges from sixteen to
twenty-four francs per mensem; and coolies could not command more than
twenty-five francs, including 'subsistence.' Here Kruboys are much used.
M. Colonna pays his first-class per mensem $5 (each =5 francs 20
centimes), his second class $4, and his third $3. Returning to the Gold
Coast, I find two classes of working men, the country-people and the
Kruboys: the Sierra Leonites are too few to be taken into consideration.
At present, when there are only five working mines, none of which are
properly manned, labour is plentiful and cheap. It will be otherwise when
the number increases, as it will soon do, to fifty and a hundred. Upwards
of seventy concessions have already been granted, and I know one house
which has, or soon will have, half a dozen ready for market. Then natives
and Kruboys will strike for increased wages till even diamond-mines would
not pay. The Gold Coast contains rich placers in abundance: if they fail
it will be for want of hands, or because the cost of labour will swallow
The country-people, Fantis, Accra-men, Apollonians of Bein, and others,
will work, and are well acquainted with gold-working. But they work in
their own way; and, save under exceptional conditions, they are incapable
of regular and continuous labour. It gives one the heart-ache to see their
dawdling, idling, shuffling, shiftless style of spoiling time. They are
now taking to tribute, piece and contract work. The French mines supply
them with tools and powder, and, by way of pay and provisions, allow them
to keep two-thirds of the produce. It is evident that such an arrangement
will be highly profitable to the hands who will 'pick the eyes out of the
mine,' and who will secrete all the richest stuff, leaving the poorest to
their employers. No amount of European surveillance will suffice to
prevent free gold in stone being stolen. Hence the question will arise
whether, despite the price of transport, reduction in England will not pay
The Kruboys in the north and the Kabinda boys in the south have been
described as the Irishmen of West Africa: they certainly do the most work;
and trading-ships would find it almost impossible to trade without them.
During the last twenty years they have not improved in efficiency even on
board men-of-war. In 1861-65 the gangs with their headmen willingly
engaged for three years. Now they enlist only for a year; they carefully
keep tallies, and after the tenth monthly cut they begin to apply for
leave. Thus the men's services are lost just as they are becoming
valuable. It is the same with the Accra-men. When the mines learn the
simple lesson _l'union fait la force_ they will combine not to engage
Krumen for less than two years.
There are two great centres at which Kruboys are hired. The first is
Sierra Leone, where they demand from all employers what the
mail-steamers pay--the headmen half-a-crown and the hands a shilling a
day besides rations. The second is the Kru coast. In 1850 the 'boys'
received 5_s._ per mensem in goods, which reduced it to 3_s._ They had
also daily rice-rations, 'Sunday beef,' and, at times, a dash of
tobacco, a cap, a blanket or a waist-cloth. In 1860 the hire rose to
9_s._ in kind, or 4_s._ 6_d._ in coin. About this time cruisers began to
pay them the monthly wages of ordinary seamen, 1_l._ 10s., with white
man's rations or compensation-money, amounting to another 12_l._ a year.
In 1882 headmen engage for the Oil Rivers at 1_l._, and 'boys' for
10_s._ to 12_s._ For the gold-mines of Wasa they have learned to demand
1_s._ 3_d._ per diem, and at the cheapest 1_l._ a month, the headmen
The Kru-market does not supply more than 4,000 hands, and yet it is
already becoming 'tight.' In a few years demand will be excessive.
[Footnote: The usual estimate of the Kru-hands employed out of their own
country is as follows:--
For the Oil Rivers:
150 each for Brass and Bonny, New Calabar and Camarones;
150-200 for the Niger, and
150 for Fernando Po and the Portuguese Islands 1200-1500
At Lagos 1000
On board the 25 Bristol ships, at 20 each 500
For nine to ten ships of war 200
For ten mail-steamers 200
In the mines: (May, 1882)
Izrah 7, Akankon 14, Effuenta 120,
the two French companies 200, the Gold Coast 100,
and Crockerville 20 461
Total 3861; say 4000]
The following notes were given to me by the managers of mines, whom I
consulted upon the subject.
Mr. Crocker prefers Fantis, Elminas, and others; and he can hire as many
as he wants; at Cape Coast Castle alone there are some eighty hands now
unemployed. He pays 36_s._, without rations, per month of four weeks. He
has about a score of Kruboys, picked up 'on the beach;' these are
fellows who have lost all their money, and who dare not go home
penniless. Their headman receives per mens. $3.50, and in exceptional
cases $4. The better class of 'boys' get from $2.50 to $3; and lesser
sums are given to the 'small boys,' whose principal work is stealing,
Mr. Creswick has a high opinion of Krumen working in the mines, and has
found sundry of them to develop into excellent mechanics. The men want
only good management. Under six Europeans, himself included, he employs a
hundred hands, and from eight to ten mechanics. The first headman draws
37_s_. 6_d_., the second 22_s_., full-grown labourers 18_s_., and 'small
boys' from 4_s_. to 6_s_. and 9_s_.
Mechanics' wages range between 1_l_. 5_s_. and 4_l_. All have rations or
'subsistence,' which here means 3_d_. a day.
Mr. MacLennan has a few Fanti miners, whom he pays at the rate of 6_d_.
per half-day. His full muster of Krumen is 120; the headmen receive 27_s_.
6_d_., rising, after six months, to 35_s_. The first class of common boys
get 20_s_.; the second from 13_s_. 6_d_. to 15_s_.; and the third, mostly
'small boys,' between 5_s_. and 10_s_. His carpenters and blacksmiths, who
are Gold Coasters and Sierra Leonites, draw from 2_l_. 10_s_. to 3_l_. The
rations are, as usual, 1-1/2 lb. of rice per day, with 1 lb. of 'Sunday
beef,' whose brine is converted into salt.
Mr. A. Bowden, manager of the Takwa and Abosu Mines, also employs a
'mixed multitude.' His Sierra Leone carpenters and blacksmiths draw
3_l._ 10_s._ to 4_l._ 10_s._ per month without rations, and his native
mechanics 3_l._ to 3_l._ 10_s._ The Fanti labourers are paid, as usual,
a shilling per diem and find themselves. The Kruboys, besides being
lodged and fed (1-1/2 lb. rice per day and 1 lb. beef or fish per week),
draw in money as follows: headman, 2_l_.; second ditto, 1_l_. 7s. to
1_l_. 12_s._; miners, 18_s._ to 20_s._ and labourers 9_s._ to 16_s._
This state of the labour-market is, I have said, purely provisional. It
will not outlast the time when the present concessions are in full
exploitation; and this condition of things I hope soon to see. We can then
draw from the neighbouring countries, from Yoruba to the north-east, and
perhaps, but this is doubtful, from the Baasas [Footnote: A manly and
powerful race, who call themselves Americans and will have nothing to do
with the English.] and the Drewins to the west. But we must come, sooner
or later, and the sooner the better, to a regular coolie-immigration, East
African, Indian, and Chinese.
The benefit of such an influx must not be measured merely by the
additional work of a few thousand hands. It will at once create jealousy,
competition, rivalry. It will teach by example--the only way of teaching
Africans--that work is not ignoble, but that it is ignoble to earn a
shilling and to live idle on three-pence a day till the pence are
exhausted. Its advantages will presently be felt along the whole western
coast, and men will wonder why it was not thought of before. The French,
as they are wont to do in these days, have set us an example. Already in
early 1882 the papers announced that a first cargo of 178
Chinese--probably from Cochin-China--had been landed at Saint-Louis de
Senegal for the proposed Senegambian railway.
The details of such an immigration and the measures which it will require
do not belong to this place. Suffice it to say that we can draw freely
upon the labour-banks of Macao, Bombay, and Zanzibar. The intelligent,
thrifty, and industrious Chinese will learn mining here, as they have
learnt it elsewhere, with the utmost readiness. The 'East Indian' will be
well adapted for lighter work of the garden and the mines. Finally, the
sturdy Wasawahili of the East African coast will do, as carriers and
labourers, three times the work of Pantis and Apollonians.
I need hardly say that Captain Cameron and I would like nothing better
than to organise a movement of this kind; we would willingly do more good
to the West African coast than the whole tribe of its so-called
Sec.3. GOLD-DIGGING IN NORTH-WESTERN AFRICA.
_a. Sketch of its Origin_.
The mineral wealth of Central Africa has still to be studied; at present
we are almost wholly ignorant of it. We know, however, that the outlying
portions of the Continent contain three distinct and grand centres of
mining-industry. The first worked is the north-eastern corner--in fact,
the Nile-valley and its adjacencies, where Fayzoghlu still supplies the
noble metal. The second, also dating from immense antiquity, is the whole
West African coast from Morocco to the Guinea Gulf, both included. The
third and last, the south-eastern gold-fields, have been discovered by the
Portuguese in comparatively modern days.
In this paper I propose to treat only of the western field. Its
exploitation began early enough to be noticed by Herodotus, the oldest of
Greek prose-writers. He tells us (lib. iv. 196, &c.) that the
Carthaginians received gold from a black people, whose caravans crossed
the Sahara, or Great Desert, and that they traded for it with the wild
tribes of the West Coast. His words are as follows:--'There is a land in
Libya, and a nation beyond the Pillars of Hercules [the Straits of
'Gib.'], which they [the Carthaginians] are wont to visit, where they no
sooner arrive but forthwith they break cargo; and, having disposed their
wares in an orderly way along the beach, leave them, and, returning aboard
their ships, raise a great smoke.
'The natives, when they see the smoke, come down to the shore, and, laying
out to view so much gold as they think the worth of the wares, withdraw
themselves afar. The Carthaginians upon this come ashore and look. If they
deem the gold sufficient they take it and wend their way; but if it does
not seem to them sufficient, they go aboard once more and wait patiently.
Then the others draw near and add to their gold till the Carthaginians are
content. Neither party deals unfairly by the other; for they themselves
never touch the gold till it comes up to the worth of their goods, nor do
the natives ever carry off the goods till the gold is taken away.'
Plato ('Critias' [Footnote: The celebrated Dialogue which treats of
Altantis and describes cocoas as the 'fruits having a hard rind, affording
drinks and meats and ointments.']) may refer to this dumb trade when he
tells us, 'Never was prince more wealthy than Atlas [eldest son of
Poseidon by Cleito]. His land was fertile, healthy, beautiful, marvellous;
it was terminated by a range of gold-yielding mountains.' Lyon, speaking
of the western Sudan, uses almost the very words of Herodotus. 'An
invisible nation, according to our informant, inhabit near this place, and
are said to trade by night. Those who come to traffic for their gold lay
their merchandise in heaps and retire. In the morning they find a certain
quantity of gold-dust placed against every heap, which if they think
sufficient they leave the goods; if not, they let both remain till more of
the precious ore is added' (p. 149). [Footnote: Shaw gives a similar
account (_Travels_, p. 302).]
The classical trade in gold and slaves was diligently prosecuted by the
Arabs or Saracens after Mohammed's day. Their caravans traversed the great
wilderness which lies behind the fertile Mediterranean shore, and founded
negroid empires in the western Sudan, or Blackland. Ghana, whence,
perhaps, the Portuguese Guine and our Guinea of 'the dreadful mortal
name,' became the great gold-mart of the day. Famous in history is its
throne, a worked nugget of solid gold, weighing 30 lbs. It has been
rivalled in modern times by the 'stool' of Bontuko (Gyaman), and by the
'Hundredweight of gold' produced by New South Wales. Most of the wealth
came from a district to the south-west, Wangara, Ungura, or Unguru,
bordering on the Niger, and supposed to correspond with modern
Mandenga-land. In the lowlands, after the annual floods, the natives dug
and washed the diluvial deposits for the precious metal exactly as is now
done upon the Gold Coast; and they burrowed into the highlands which
surround in crescent-form the head-waters of the great River Joliba.
Presently Tinbukhtu succeeded, according to Leo Africanus (1500), Ghana as
the converging point of the trade, and made the name for wealth which
endures even to the present day. Its princes and nobles lavishly employed
the precious ore in ornaments, some weighing 1,300 ounces.
In due time the Moroccan Arabs were succeeded by their doughty rivals, the
Portuguese of the heroic ages of D. D. Joao II. and Manoel. I here pass
over the disputed claim of the French, who declare that they imported the
metal from 'Elmina' as early as 1382. [Footnote: See Chapter II.] The
first gold was discovered on his second voyage by Goncalo Baldeza (1442)
at the Rio de Ouro, the classical Lixus and the modern El-Kus, famed for
the defeat and death of Dom Sebastiam. [Footnote: I have noticed it in
_Camoens, his Life and his Lusiads_, vol ii. chapter iii. The
identification with the Rio de Onro is that of Bowdich (p. 505). Another
Rio de Ouro was visited in 1860 by Captain George Peacock (before alluded
to), 'having a French frigate under his orders.' The 'River of Gold' of
course would become a favourite and a banal name.]
In 1470 Joao de Santarem and Pero d'Escobar, knights of the King, sailed
past Cape Falmas, discovered the islands of Sao Thome and Annobom (January
1, 1471); and, on their return homewards, found a trade in gold-dust at
the village of Sama (Chamah) and on the site which we miscall 'Elmina.'
[Footnote: This form of the word, a masculine article with a feminine
noun, cannot exist in any of the neo-Latin languages. In Italian and
Spanish it would be La Mina, in Portuguese A Mina. The native name is Dina
or Edina.] During the same year Fernan' Gomez, a worthy of Lisbon, bought
a five years' monopoly of the gold-trade from the King, paying 44_l._ 9_s._
par annum, and binding himself to explore, every year, 300 miles down
coast from Sierra Leone. One of these expeditions landed at 'Elmina' and
discovered Cape Catherine in south latitude 1º 50' and west longitude
(Gr.) 9º 2'. The rich mines opened at Little Kommenda, or Aprobi, led to
the building of the Fort Sao Jorje da Mina, by Diego d'Azembuja, sent out
(A.D. 1481) to superintend the construction. But about 1622 the falling in
of some unbraced and untimbered shafts and the deaths of many miners
induced Gweffa, the King, to 'put gold in Fetish,' making it an accursed
thing; and it has not been worked since that time.
Thus Portugal secured to herself the treasures which made her the
wealthiest of European kingdoms. But when she became a province of Spain,
under D. Philip II., her Eastern conquests were systematically neglected
in favour of the Castilian colonies that studded the New World. The weak
Lusitanian garrisons were massacred on the Gold Coast, as in other parts
of Africa; and the Hollanders, the 'Water-beggars,' who had conquered
their independence from Spain, proceeded to absorb the richest possessions
of their quondam rivals. 'Elmina,' the capital, fell into Dutch hands
(1637), and till 1868 Holland retained her forts and factories on the Gold
In their turn the English and the French, who had heard of the fabulous
treasures of the Joliba valley and the Tinbukhtu mart, began to claim
their share. As early as 1551 Captain Thomas Wyndham touched at the Gold
Coast and brought home 150 lbs. of the precious dust. The first English
company for exploring the Gambia River sent out (1618) their agent,
Richard Thompson. This brave and unfortunate explorer was rancorously
opposed by the Portuguese and eventually murdered by his own men. He was
followed (1620) by Richard Jobson, to whom we owe the first account of the
Gambia River. He landed at various points, armed with mercury, aqua regia
(nitric acid), large crucibles, and a 'dowsing' or divining rod;
[Footnote: A form of this old and almost universal magical instrument,
worked by electricity, has, I am told, been lately invented and patented
in the United States.] washed the sands and examined the rocks even beyond
the Falls of Barraconda. After having often been deceived, as has occurred
to many prospectors since his day, he determined that gold never occurs in
low fertile wooded lands, but in naked and barren hills, which embed it in
their reddish ferruginous soil. Hence it was long and erroneously
determined that bare rocks in the neighbourhood of shallow alluvia
characterise rich placers, and that the wealthiest mining-regions are poor
and stunted in vegetation. California and Australia, the Gold Coast and
South Africa, are instances of the contrary. Wasa, however, confirms the
old opinion that the strata traversed by lodes determine the predominating
metal; as quartz produces gold; hard blue slate, lead; limestone,
green-stone and porphyry, copper; and granite, tin. [Footnote: Page 17, _A
Treatise on Metalliferous Minerals and Mining_, by D. C. Davies. London,
Crosby and Co., 1881. The volume is handy and useful to explorers.]
After twenty days' labour Jobson succeeded in extracting 12 lbs. from a
single site. He declares that at length he 'arrived at the mouth of the
mine itself, and found gold in such abundance as surprised him with joy
and admiration.' Unfortunately he leaves us no notice of its position; it
is probably lost, like many of the old Brazilian diggings. The Gambia
River still exports small quantities of dust supposed to have been washed
in the Ghauts, or sea-subtending ridges, of the interior. Most of it,
however, finds its way to the wealthier and more prosperous French colony.
Whilst the English chose the Gambia the French preferred Senegal, where
they founded (1626) 'St. Louis,' called after Louis XIV. The Sieur Brue,
Director-General of the Senegal Company, made a second journey of
discovery in 1698, and reached with great difficulty the gold-mines of
desert and dreary Bambuk. There he visited the principal districts, and
secured specimens of what he calls the _ghingan_, or golden earth. He
proposed a third incursion, but the absolute apathy of his countrymen
proved an insuperable obstacle.
M. Golberry describes Bambuk in gloomy and sombre colours. Its gold is
distributed amongst low ranges of peeled and sterile hills. Probably this
results from fires and disforesting. It occurs in the shape of spangles,
grains, and _pepites_ (nuggets), whose size increases with the depth of
the digging. In the Matakon mine the dust adhered to fragments of iron,
emery, and lapis lazuli, from which it was easily detached and washed. The
less valuable Semayla placer produced dust in a hard reddish loam, mixed
with still more refractory materials; it was crushed in mortars with rude
wooden dollies or with grain-pestles. The pits, six feet in diameter,
reached a depth of from ten to twelve yards, where they were stopped by a
bed of hard reddish marle; this the Frenchman held to be the hanging wall
of a much richer lode. The people used ladders, but they neglected to
collar or brace the mouth, and the untimbered pit-sides often fell in;
hence fatal accidents, attributed to the 'earth-spirits.' They held gold
to be a capricious elf, and when a rich vein suddenly ran barren they
cried out, 'There! he is off!'
In later days Mungo Park drew attention by his famous first journey
(1795-97) to the highlands of the Mandingoes (Mandenga-land), and revived
interest in the provinces of Shronda, Konkodu, Dindiko, Bambuk, and
Bambarra. Here the natives collect dust by laborious washings of detrital
sand. His fatal second expedition (1805) produced an unfinished journal,
which, however, gives the amplest and most interesting notices concerning
the gold-production of the region he traversed. My space compels me to
refer readers to the original. [Footnote: Murray's edition of 1816, vol.
i, p. 40, and vol. ii. p. 751.]
The traveller Caillie (1827), after crossing the Niger _en route_ to
Tinbukhtu, passed south of the Boure province, in the valley of the Great
River; and here he reports an abundance of gold. As in the districts
visited by Park, it is all alluvial and washed out of the soil. The dust,
together with native cloth, wax, honey, cotton and cattle, finds its way
to the coast, where it is bartered for beads, amber and coral, calicoes
and firearms. The gold-mines of Boure were first visited and described by
Winwood Reade. [Footnote: _Coomassie_, &c., p. 126.]
The peninsula of Sierra Leone is not yet proved to be auriferous. Here
stray Moslems, mostly Mandengas, occasionally bring down the Melakori
River ring-gold and dust from the interior. The colonists of Liberia
assert that at times they have come upon a pocket which produced fifty
dollars; the country-people also occasionally offer gold for sale. From
the Bassam coast middle-men travel far inland and buy the metal from the
bushmen. Near Grand Bassam free gold in quartz-reefs near the shore has
We now reach the Gold Coast proper, which amply deserves its glorious
golden name. I have shown that the whole seaboard of West Africa, between
it and Morocco, produces more or less gold; here, however, the precious
metal comes down to the very shore and is washed upon the sands. Its
length from the Assini boundary-line to the Volta [Footnote: Chapter XIV.
I would not assert that gold is not found east of the Volta River. M.
Colonna, of Lagos, told me that he had good reason to suspect its presence
on the seaboard of Dahome, and promised me to make further enquiries.] has
been laid down at 220 direct geographical miles by a depth of about 100.
The area of the Protectorate, which has been a British colony since 1874,
is assumed to be 16,620 instead of 24,500 square miles, and the population
may exceed half a million. Its surface is divided into twelve petty
kingdoms; and its strand is studded with forts and ruins of forts, a total
of twenty-five, or one to every eight miles. This small section of West
Africa poured a flood of gold into Europe; and, until the mineral
discoveries of California and Australia, it continued to be the principal
source of supply to the civilised world.
The older writers give us ample details about gold-digging and trading two
centuries ago. Bosnian (Letter VI.) shows that the people prospected for
the illustrious metal in three forms of ground. The first was in, or
between, particular hills, where they sank pits; the second was about the
rivers and waterfalls; and the third was on the seashore near the mouths
of rivulets after violent night-rains. He ends his letter with these
sensible words: 'I would refer to any intelligent metallist whether a vast
deal of ore must not of necessity be lost here, from which a great deal of
gold might be separated, from want of skill in the metallic art; and not
only so, but I firmly believe that vast quantities of pure gold are left
behind; for the negroes only ignorantly dig at random, without the least
knowledge of the veins of the mine. [Footnote: The origin of these mineral
veins is still disputed, science being as yet too young for the task of
solving the mystery. Probably, as Mr. Davies remarks, 'the mode of the
origin and means of the deposition are not one only but many,' and we have
the Huttonian (igneous) and Wernerian (aqueous) theories, the sublimation
of Necker, the electricity of Mr. R. W. Fox, the infiltration and
gravitation of fluid metals towards cracks, vughs (cavities), and
shrinkages, and the law of replacement. 'If a steel plate be removed atom
by atom,' says Mr. R. Brough Smyth (_Gold Fields of Victoria_, Melbourne,
1869), 'and each atom be replaced by a corresponding atom of silver--a
fact established by direct experiment--it will be readily seen that a
mineral vein may be formed in the same way.'] And I doubt not that if the
land belonged to Europeans they would soon find it to produce much richer
treasures than the negroes obtain from it. But it is not probable that we
shall ever possess that liberty here, wherefore we must be content with
being so far masters of it as we are at present, which, if well and
prudently managed, would turn to a very great account.'
Times, however, are changed. England is now mistress of the field, and it
will be her fault if she leaves it untilled.
The good old Hollander first mentions amongst his six gold-sites the
kingdom of Denkira; it then included the conquests of Wasa (Wassaw), of
Encasse, [Footnote: The Inkassa of D'Anville, 1729.] and of Juffer or
Quiforo. The gold of that region is good, but much alloyed for the trade
with 'fetish'-figures. These are composed sometimes of pure mountain-gold;
more often the ore is mixed with one-third, or even a half, of silver and
copper, and stuffed with half-weight of the black earth used for moulding.
The second was Acanny (D'Anville's Akanni), with gold so pure and fine
that 'Acanny sika' meant the best ley. Then came the kingdom of Akim,
which 'furnishes as large quantities of gold as any land that I know, and
that also the most valuable and pure of any that is carried away from the
coast.' It was easily distinguished by its deep colour. The fourth and
fifth were Ashanti and Ananse, a small tract between the ex-great
despotism and Denkira. The sixth and last was Awine, our Aowin, the region
to the east of the Tando, then and now included in the British
Protectorate. The Dutch 'traded here with a great deal of pleasure,' the
people 'being the civilest and fairest dealers of all the negroes.'
The Ashanti war of 1873-74 had the effect of opening to transit a large
area of workable ground. English officers traversed the interior in all
directions, and their reports throw vivid light upon the position, the
extent, and the value of the auriferous grounds which subtend the Gold
Coast and which supply it with the precious metal.
The gold-provinces best known to us are now three--Wasa, of which these
pages treat; Akim, the hill-land, an easy journey of a week north with
westing from Akra; and Gyaman, the rival of Ashanti.
Akim is divided into eastern and western. Mr. H. Ponsonby, when travelling
through both regions, found the natives getting quantities of gold by
digging holes eight to ten feet deep on either side of the forest-paths.
He saw as much as three ounces taken up in less than half an hour. Around
the capital of eastern Akim, Kyebi, or Chyebi, the land is also
honeycombed with man-holes, making night-travel dangerous to the stranger.
It requires a sharp eye to detect the deserted pits, two feet in diameter
and 'sunk straight, as if they had been bored with huge augurs.' I have
seen something of the kind in the water-meadows near Shoreham. The workman
descends by foot-holes, and works with a hoe four to six inches long by
two broad: when his calabash is filled it is drawn up by his companions.
The earthquakes of April and July 1862 [Footnote: I happened to be at Akra
during the convulsion of July 10. The commandant, Major (now Colonel) de
Buvignes, and I set out for a stroll along the sands to the west. The
morning was close and cloudy: what little breeze there was came from the
south-west, under a leaden sky and over a leaden sea. At 8.10 A.M., as we
were returning from the rocks about three-quarters of a mile off, there
was a sudden rambling like a distant thunder-clap; the sands seemed to
wave up and down as a shaken carpet, and we both staggered forwards.
Others described the movement as rising and falling like the waters of a
lagoon. I looked with apprehension at the sea; but the direction of the
shock was apparently from west-north-west; and the line was too oblique to
produce one of those awful earthquake-waves, seventy feet high, which have
swept tall ships over the roofs of cities. We ran as fast as we could to
the town, where everything was in the wildest confusion. The 'Big House'
and Mr. John Hansen's were mere ruins; the Court-house had come to pieces,
and the prison-cells yawned open. I distinctly saw that the rock-ledge
under Akra, between Fort James and Crevecoeur, had been upraised: canoes
passed over what was now dry. A second shock at 8.20 A.M., and a third
about 10.45, completed the destruction, split every standing wall, and
shook down the three forts into ruinous heaps. Nor did the seismic
movements cease till July 15, when I made my escape.
Men who remembered as far back as March 1858, when Colonel Bird ruled the
land, declared that Akra had never felt an earthquake; but on the morning
of April 14, 1862, there had been a sharp shock followed by sundry lighter
movements, and lastly by the most severe. The direction was said to be
north-south, and it was supposed to be the tail of a great earthquake,
whose focus was behind Sierra Leone. A rumbling, like the rolling of guns,
had been heard under the main square of Akra; the shocks were felt by the
ships in the roads, and the disturbance was reported to have been even
more severe up-country. When the wave reached Agbome, Gelele, King of
Dahome, with characteristic filial piety, exclaimed, 'Don't you see that
my father is calling for blood, and is angry because we are not sending
him more men?' Whereupon he at once ordered three prisoners from Ishagga
to take the road to Ku-to-men, Hades or Dead-land.] so tossed and broke
up the hill-strata of Akim that all the people flocked to the diggings and
dispensed with the chimney-holes generally sunk. The frontier-village of
Adadentum, on the Prah, was nearly buried by a landslip from a spur of the
'Queeshoh Range.' Huge nuggets were uncovered, and the people filled their
calabashes daily, thankful to their great fetish, the Kataguri. [Footnote:
This is a huge brass pan which fell from heaven: it is or was surrounded
by drawn swords and gold-handled axes in its sanctuary, the fetish-house.]
The provinces of Gyaman, especially Ponin, Safwi, and Showy, are famed for
wealth of gold. In African phrase, while 'the metallic veins of Ashanti,
Denkira, and Wasa lie twelve cubits deep, those of Gyaman are only five.'
The ore dug from pits is of deep colour, and occurs mixed with red gravel
and pieces of white granite (quartz). It is held to be rock-gold
(nuggets), and more valuable than that of Ashanti, although the latter,
passing for current, is mostly pure. This pit-gold appears in lumps
embedded in loam and rock, of which 14 to 15 lbs. would yield 1 to 1 1/2
lb. pure metal. Nuggets are also produced, and chiefs wear them slung to
hair and wrists; some may weigh 4 lbs. The dust washed from the
torrent-beds is higher-coloured, cleaner, and better than what is produced
elsewhere. It found its way to the Nigerian basin as well as to the Gold
Coast, and was converted into ducats (miskals) and trinkets, chains,
bracelets, anklets, and adornments for weapons. The King of Gyaman became
immensely rich by the produce of his mines; and, according to Bowdich, his
bed had steps of solid gold.
The reader will have gathered from the preceding pages that the negroes
have worked their gold-fields for centuries but to very little purpose.
Their want of pumps, of quartz-crushers, and of scientific appliances
generally, has limited their labour to scratching the top-soil and
nibbling at the reef-walls. A large proportion of the country is
practically virgin-ground, and a rich harvest has been left for European
science, energy, and enterprise.
The Fantis have many curious usages and superstitions which limit
production. As a rule nuggets are the royalty of kings and chiefs; but in
many places these 'mothers of gold' are re-buried, in order that gold may
grow from them. [Footnote: It was long supposed in Europe that alluvial
gold grew by a succession of layers imposed upon a solid nucleus, and by
the coalescence of grains as a snow-ball is constructed. Mr. Sellwyn still
holds that 'nuggets and particles of alluvial gold may gradually increase
by the deposition of metallic gold (analogous to the electroplating
process), from the meteoric waters that circulate through the
drifts.'--_Gold Fields of Victoria_, p. 357.] I have noted that a smoke,
or thin vapour, guides to the unknown placer, and that white gold causes a
mine to be abandoned. Rich ground is denoted by a peculiar vegetation,
especially of ferns. Gold is guarded here not by a dragon, but by a
monstrous baboon; and when golden dogs are found the finder dies. In 1862
I visited with Major de Ruvignes Great Sankanya, a village west of the
Volta, where a large gold-field was reported. As we drew near the spot we
were told that the precious metal appears during the 'yam-customs,' and
that only prayers, sacrifices, and presents to the fetish will make it
visible. Presently we saw a white rag on a pole, which the dark youth, our
guide, called a 'sign,' and groaned out that it would surely slay us. A
woman, whose white and black beads showed a 'religious,' pointed to a
place where gold is 'common as ashes after a fire'--the priest being first
paid. The report of this excursion spread to Akra; Major de Ruvignes had
taken up in his arms a golden dog, and at once fell dead. I can hardly
connect the superstition with old Anubis.
Whenever the unshored pit caves in the accident has been caused by
evil-minded ghosts, the kobolds of Germany, in which Cornwall till lately
believed. Fetish then steps forward and forbids further search. Thus many
of the richest placers have been closed. Such, for instance, is the Monte
do Diabo (Devil's Hill), the native Mankwadi, [Footnote: Again, I cannot
connect Mankwadi (or even Manquada) with 'Maquida or Azeb, Queen of
Sheba'--the latter country probably lying in South Arabian Yemen.] near
Winnebah, fifteen leagues east from Elmina. The miners were killed by the
heat of the shafts, and the mine was at once placed 'in fetish.' But
'fetish' has now lost much of its authority; the Satanic hill will soon be
exploited, and its only difficulty is its disputed ownership by 'Ghartey,
King of Winnebah,' and 'Okill Ensah, King of Ejemakun.' These dignitaries
condescend to advertise against each other in the local papers.
At Ada (Addah), west of the Volta and in its neighbourhood, the Krobo
Hills included, a beggar would be grossly insulted by the offer of a
sovereign; he dashes it to earth, spitting upon it with wrath. The
Ashantis, as the story runs, once dug treasure near Sakanya; and, as the
chiefs and people were becoming too independent of them, the high priests
put the precious metal 'in fetish,' with the penalty of blindness to all
who worked it. A Danish governor once filled his pockets, and recovered
sight only by throwing away the plunder. A brother of the Ada chief
offered to show this magic-fenced placer to the late Mr. Nicol Irvine,
_moyennant_ the trifle of 50_l_. The transaction reminded me of the Hindu
alchemist who asks you ten rupees to make a ton of gold.
As regards the gold-supply of this El Dorado, the Gold Coast, it has been
estimated that the total since A.D. 1471 amounted to six or seven hundred
millions of pounds sterling. Elmina alone, at the beginning of the
seventeenth century, annually exported, according to Bosman, 3,000,000_l_.
At a later period Mr. McQueen increased the figures to 3,400,000_l_. Then
came the abolition of slavery, which caused the decline and fall of
mining-industry amongst the natives. In 1816 the export was reduced to
400,000_l_. (=100,000 ounces), a figure repeated in 1860 by Dr. Eobert
Olarke; and in 1862 the amount was variously reported at 192,000_l_. (=
48,000 ounces) and half a million of money.
The following proportions were given to me by M. Dahse. Till 1870 the
figures are computed by him; after that date the value is
declared;--[Footnote: _Statistical Abstract of the United Kingdom._ Eyre
and Spottiswoode. London, 1881.]
1866 1867 1868 1869
120,333_l_. 146,182_l_ 118,875_l_. 100,214_l_.
1870 1871 1872
116,142_l_. 137,328_l_. 108,869_l_.
Now began the notable falling-off, which reached its maximum next year:--
1873 1874 1875 1876
77,523_l_. 136,263_l_. 117,321_l_. 145,511_l_.
1877 1878 1879 1880
120,542_l_ 122,497_l_. 115,167_l_. 125,980_l_.
M. Dahse assumes the annual average to be in round numbers, 126,000_l_.
The official returns of imported silver from the Coast show:--
1872 1873 1874 1875 1876
7,074_l_. 6,841_l_. 40,964_l_. 23,587_l_. 21,667_l_.
1877 1878 1879 1880
10,905_l_. 41,254_l_. 61,755_l_. 63,337_l_.
Totals of gold and silver:--
1872 1873 1874 1875 1876
115,943_l_. 84,364_l_. 177,227_l_. 140,908_l_. 167,178_l_.
1877 1878 1879 1880
131,447_l_. 163,751_l_. 176,922_l_. 189,317_l_.
I was lately asked by an illustrious geologist and man of science, how it
came to pass that the Gold Coast, if so rich, has not been worked before
this time. These notes will afford a sufficient reply.
_b. The Kong Mountains._
This range, which has almost disappeared from the maps, may have taken its
name either from the town of Kong on the southern versant, or it may be a
contraction of the Kongkodu, the mountain-land described by Mungo Park.
Messieurs J. Zweifel and M. Moustier, [Footnote: _Expedition, C. A.
Verminck, Voyage aux Sources du Niger_. Marseille, 1880.] who did not
reach the Niger sources in 1879, explain 'Kong' as the Kissi name of the
line which trends from north-west to south-east, and which divides
Koronko-land from Kono-land. When nearing their objective they sighted the
Kong-apex, Mount Daro, measuring 1,240 metres. Older travellers make it a
latitudinal chain running nearly east-west, with its centre about the
meridian of Cape Coast Castle, and extending 500 to 600 miles on a
parallel of north latitude 7º-8º. Westward it bends north behind Cape
Palmas, and, like the Ghauts of Hindostan, follows the line of seaboard. I
have before noticed the traditions of Mount Geddia, an occidental
Kilima-njaro. About the parallel of Sierra Leone the feature splits into a
network of ranges, curves, and zigzags, which show no general trend. The
eastern faces here shed to the Niger, the western to the various streams
between the Rokel-Seli, the Gambia, and the Senegal; and the last northern
counterforts sink into the Sahara Desert. The western versant supplies the
gold of Senegambia, the southern that of Ashanti and Wasa. The superficial
dust is washed down by rains, floods, and rivers; and the dykes and veins
of quartz, mostly running north-south, are apparently connected with those
of the main range.
That such a chain must exist is proved by the conduct of the Gold Coast
streams. The Ancobra, for instance, which often rises and falls from
twenty to forty feet in twenty-four hours, suggests that its sources
spring from an elevated plane at no great distance from the sea. The lands
south of the Kong Mountains are grassy and hilly with extensive plains.
This is known through the 'Donko slaves,' common on the coast. Many of
them come from about Salagha, the newly-opened mart upon the Upper Volta;
they declare that the land breeds ostriches and elephants, cattle and
camels, horses and asses. Moreover, it is visited by the northern peoples
who cross the Sahara. I have already noticed the grass-lands of Gyaman.
Captain Clapperton, on his second journey, setting out from Badagry to
Busa (Boussa), crossed a hill-range which would correspond with the Kong.
It is described as about eighty miles broad, and is said to extend from
behind Ashanti to Benin. The traveller, who estimated the culminating
point not to exceed 2,600 feet, found the rugged passes hemmed in by
denticulated walls and tons of granite, 600 to 700 feet high, and
sometimes overhanging the path. The valleys varied in breadth from a
hundred yards to half a mile. A comparatively large population occupied
the mountain-recesses, where they planted fine crops of yams, millet, and
cotton. The strangers were made welcome at every settlement. Ascending
hill after hill, they came to Chaki, a large town on the very summit of
the ridge. The _caboceer_ had a house and a stock of provisions ready for
his guests, put many questions, and earnestly pressed them to rest for two
or three days. When the whole chain was crossed they fell into the plains
of 'Yaruba' (Yoruba).
The next eye-witness is Mr. John Duncan, who visited Dahome in 1845. King
Gezo allowed him a guard of a hundred men, in order to explore with safety
the 'Mahi, or Kong Mountains.' His son and successor was not so generous;
he systematically and churlishly refused all travellers, myself included,
permission to pass northwards of his capital. The Lifeguardsman found the
chain, which is distant more than a hundred miles from Agbome, differing
from his expectations in character, appearance, and even position. The
grand, imposing line looked from afar like colossal piles of ruins; a
nearer view showed immense blocks, some of them 200 feet long, egg-shaped
and lying upon their sides. Nearly all the settlements had chosen the
summits, doubtless for defence. Mr. Duncan crossed the whole breadth of
these 'Kong Mountains,' and pushed 180 miles beyond them over a level land
which must shed to the Niger.
These descriptions denote a range of granite, the rock which forms the
ground-floor of the Sierra Leone peninsula and the Gold Coast, possibly
varied by syenites and porphyries. It would probably contain, like the
sea-subtending mountains of Midian, large veins of eminently metalliferous
quartz, outcropping from the surface and forming extensions of the reefs
below. From the coast-line the land gradually upslopes towards the spurs
of the great dividing ridge; and thus we may fairly expect that the
further north we go the richer will become the diggings.
The Kong Mountains are apparently cut through by the Niger south of Iddah,
where the true coast begins. Travellers describe the features almost in
the words of Clapperton and Denham--the towering masses of granite which
contrast so strongly with the southern swamps; upstanding outcrops
resembling cathedrals and castellations in ruins; boulders like footballs
of enormous dimensions; pyramids a thousand feet high; and solitary cones
which rise like giant ninepins. We know too little of the lands lying
south-east of the confluence to determine the sequence of the chain, whose
counterforts may give rise to the Eastern 'Oil Rivers.' It is not
connected with the Peak of Camarones, round which Mr. Cumber, of the
Baptist Mission, travelled; and which he determined to be an isolated
block. Farther south the Ghauts of Western Africa reappeared as the Serra
do Crystal, and fringe the mighty triangle below the Equator. They are
suspected to be auriferous in places. An American merchant on the Gaboon
River, Captain Lawlin, carried home in 1843-44 a quantity of granular gold
brought to him by the country-traders. He returned to his station,
prepared to work the metals of the interior; but the people took the
alarm, and he failed to find the spot.
Cameron and I, prevented by the late season of our landing from attempting
this interesting exploration, were careful to make all manner of enquiries
concerning the best _point de depart_, and if fate prevent our attempting
it we shall be happy to see some more favoured traveller succeed. The
easiest way would be to march upon Crockerville, two days by the Ancobra
River and three by land. The bush-paths, which would require widening for
hammocks, lead north through Wasa. There are many villages on the way, and
in places provisions can be procured; the people are peaceful and willing
to show or to make the path. At Axim I consulted a native guide who knew
the Kong village, but not the Kong Mountains. He made the distance six
marches to Safwi, where the grass-lands begin; and here he ascended a
hillock, seeing nothing but prairies to the north. Eight more stages, a
total of fourteen, led him to Gyaman, where he found horses and horsemen.
He also knew by hearsay the western route, _via_ Apollonian Bein.
_c. Native Modes of Working Gold_.
In all places, and at all times, gold, probably the metal first used by
man, has been worked in the same way. This is a fair evidence of that
instinctive faculty which produces a general resemblance of rude
stone-implements from England to Australia. There are six methods for
'getting' the precious metal--surfacing or washing; shallow-sinking;
sluicing, or removing the earth through natural and artificial channels;
deep sinking; tunnelling, and quartz-mining.
The preceding notes show that the natives of the Gold Coast, and of West
Africa generally, are adepts at procuring their gold by 'surfacing,'
washing with the calabash or wooden bowl the rich alluvial formations that
underlie the top-soil. This is the rudest form of machinery, preceding in
California the cradle, the torn, and the sluice. Westerns made their pans
of brass or copper, about sixteen inches in diameter, and nearly two
inches deep in the middle where the gold gravitates. Panning in Africa is
women's work, and the process has been described in the preceding pages.
But the natives, as has been shown, can also work quartz, an art well
known to the Ancient Egyptians. They either pick up detached pieces
showing visible gold, or they sink pits and nibble at the walls of the
reefs. But whereas the Nile-peoples pounded the stone in mortars and
washed the dust on sloping boards, here the matrix must be laboriously
levigated. A handful of broken quartz is placed upon the 'cankey-stone,'
with which the gudewife grinds her 'mealies.' It is a slightly hollowed
slab of granite or hard conglomerate, some two feet square, sloping away
from the worker, and standing upon a rude tripod of tree-branches secured
by a lashing of 'tie-tie.' The stuff is then rubbed with a hand-stone not
unlike a baker's roll, and a slight deviation is given to it as it moves
'fore and aft.' The reduced stone is caught in a calabash placed at the
lower end of the slab. This is usually night-work, and all the dark hours
will be wasted in grinding down a cubic foot of stone.
The late M. Bonnat had probably read Mr. Andrew Swanzy's evidence before
the House of Commons in 1816: 'Gold is procured in every part of the
country; it appears more like an impregnation of the soil than a mine.'
His long captivity at Kumasi, where to a certain extent he learned the Oji
speech, familiarised him with the native processes; and thus a Frenchman
taught Englishmen to work gold in a golden land where they have been
domiciled--true _faineants_--for nearly three centuries. He came out in
the Dries of 1877 with the intention of dredging the Ancobra River where
the natives dive for the precious metal. He was working in western Apinto,
a province of Wasa, under Kofi Blay, a vassal of King Kwabina Angu, when
he was visited (January 1878) by Major-General Wray, B.A., Colonel
Lightfoot, and Mr. Hervey, who were curious to see the work. They remained
only till the return of the mail-steamer, or about five weeks. The General
left with some first-rate sketches; the Colonel caught a fever, which
killed him at Madeira; and the Esquire, who bears a name well known in
Australia, returned to the Gold Coast for the purpose of writing not
unprofitable reports. M. Bonnat was presently informed of the Takwa Ridge,
mines well known for a century at least to Cape Coast Castle, and ever the
principal source of the Axim currency. They were still worked in 1875 by
the people who drew their stores from Axim. A five-weeks' residence
convinced him that they were rich enough to attract capital; he went to
Europe, and was successful in raising it. Thus began the Takwa mines,
where, by a kind of irony of Fate, the beginner was buried.
M. Bonnat wisely intended to open operations with wet-working. At Axim I
was shown a model flume, made to order after the plans of a M. Boisonnet,
or, as he signs himself, 'boisonnet.' He was reported to be a large
landed-proprietor who had made a fortune by mining in French Guiana. He
proposed for M. Bonnat and himself to secure the monopoly of washing the
Protectorate with this flume--a veritable French toy, uselessly
complicated, and yet to be used only upon the smallest scale. We must go
for our models to California and Australia, not to French Guiana.
The following will be the implements with which the natives of the future
must do their work on the Gold Coast:--
The pan begat the cradle, a wooden box on rockers, shaped like the article
which gave its name. It measures three feet and a half by eighteen inches,
and is provided with a movable hopper and slides. Placed in a sloping
position, it is worked to and fro by a perpendicular staff acting as
handle, and the grain-gold, a metal seven times heavier than granite,
collects where the baby should be. As some flour-gold is here found, the
cradle-bottom should be cut with cross-grooves to hold mercury; and the
latter must be tempered with sodium or other amalgam.
The cradle begat Long Tom and Broad Tom, the 'tom' proper being the upper
box with a grating to keep out the pebbles. 'Long Tom's' body is a wooden
trough, from twelve to fourteen feet long by a foot or a foot and a half
broad, with ripples, riffles, or cross-bars. There is usually another
grating at the lower end to intercept the smaller stones. The machine is
fixed in a gently sloping position, at an angle determined by
circumstances; the wash-dirt is lifted into the upper end by manual
labour; when stiff it must be stirred or shovelled, and a stream of water
does the rest. The greater gravity of the gold causes it to be arrested by
the riffles. Instead of the bars grooves may be cut and filled with
quicksilver. When the sludge is very rich, rough cloths rubbed with
mercury, or even sheepskins, the lineal descendants of the Golden Fleece,
may be used, 'Broad Tom,' _alias_ the 'Victoria Jenny Lind,' is made about
half the length of its long brother: the upper end is only a foot wide,
broadening out to three below.
'Tom' begat the sluice, which is of two kinds, natural and artificial. The
former is a ditch cut in the floor, with a _talus_ of one to forty or
fifty. The bottom, which would soon wear away, is revetted with rough
planks and paved with hard stones, weighing ten to twenty pounds, the
grain being placed vertically. With a full head of water 400 cubic yards a
day can easily be washed. The gold, as usual, gravitates through the
chinks to the bottom, and finally is cradled or panned out. It is most
efficiently treated when the sluice is long; it demands six times more
water than the artificial article, but it wants less manual labour. This
last property should recommend it to the Gold Coast. Here, I repeat,
machinery must be used as much and manual labour as little as possible.
The artificial or portable box-sluice is a series of troughs each about
twelve feet long, like the upper compartment of 'Long Tom.' They are made
of half-inch boards, rough from the saw, the lower end being smaller to
fit into its prolongation. Each compartment is provided with a loose metal
bottom pierced with holes to admit the dust; the true bottom below it has
cross-riffles, and above it are bars or gratings to catch the coarser
stones. These sluices are mounted on trestles, and the latter are disposed
upon a slope determined by the quantity of water: the average fall or
grade may be 1 to 50. In Australia four men filling a 'Long Tom,' or
raised box-sluice, will remove and wash twenty-four cubic yards of ground
per day. When the ore is fine, mercury may be dropped into the upper end
of the sluice; and it picks up the particles, 'tailing,' as it goes,
before the two metals have run far down. Both stop at the first riffle or
The auriferous clays of the Gold Coast are thinly covered with humus, and
are not buried, as in Australia, by ten to thirty feet of unproductive
top-drift. The whole, therefore, can be run through the sluices before we
begin mining the underlying strata. Washing will be easier during the
Rains, when the dirt is looser; in the Dries hard and compact stuff must
be loosened by the pick and spade or by blasting. There will not be much
loss by float-gold, flour-gold, or paint-gold, the latter thus called
because it is so fine as to resemble gilding. Spangles and specks are
found; but the greater part of the dust is granular, increasing to 'shotty
gold.' The natives divide the noble ore into 'dust-gold' and
'mountain-gold.' The latter would consist of nuggets, 'lobs,' or pepites,
and of crystals varying in size from a pin's head to a pea. The form is a
cube modified to an octahedron and a rhombic dodecahedron. These rich
finds are usually the produce of pockets or 'jewellers' shops.' I am not
aware if there be any truth in the rule generally accepted: 'The forms of
gold are found to differ according to the nature of the underlying rock:
if it is slate the grains are cubical; if granite they are flat plates and
And, lastly, the sluice begat the jet, or hydraulicking proper, which is
at present the highest effort of placer-mining. We thus reverse the
primitive process which carried the wash-dirt to the water; we now carry
the water to the wash-dirt. In California I found the miners washing down
loose sandstones and hillocks of clay, passing the stuff through sluices,
and making money when the gold averaged only 9_d_. and even 4_d_. to the
ton. A man could work under favourable circumstances twenty to thirty tons
a day. An Australian company, mentioned by Mr. R. Brough Smyth, with 200
inches of water, directed by ten hands, 'hydraulicked' in six days 224,000
cubic feet of dirt. The results greatly vary; in some places a man will
remove 200 cubic yards a day, and in others only 50.
Hydraulic mining on the Gold Coast, owing to the conformation of the
country, will be a far simpler and less expensive process than in
California or Australia. In the latter water has first to be bought, and
then to be brought in pipes, flumes, leats, or races from a considerable
distance, sometimes extending over forty miles. It is necessary to make a
reservoir for a fall. The water then rushes through the flexible hose, and
is directed by a nozzle against the face of the excavation. The action is
that of a fireman playing upon a burning house. Most works on mining
insist upon those reservoirs, and never seem to think of washing from
below by the force-pump.
I have shown that the surface of the lands adjoining the Ancobra is a
series of hummocks, rises, and falls, sometimes, though rarely, reaching
200 feet; that water abounds, and that it is to be had gratis. In every
bottom there is a drain, sometimes perennial, but more often a blind gully
or creek, [Footnote: The gully feeds a 'creek,' the creek a river.] which
runs only during the Rains, and in the Dries carries at most a succession
of pools. Here Norton's Abyssinian tubes, sunk in the bed after it has
been carefully worked by the steam-navvy for the rich alluvium underlying
the surface, would act like pumps, and dams would form huge tanks. Nor
would there be any difficulty in making reservoirs upon the ridge-tops,
with launders, or gutters, to collect the rain. Thus work would continue
throughout the year, and not be confined, as at present, to the dry
season. A pressure of 100 to 200 lbs. per square foot can easily be
obtained, and the force of the jet is so great that it will kill a man on
the spot. The hose should be of heavy duck, double if necessary, rivetted
and strengthened by metal bands or rings--in fact, the crinoline-hose of
Australia. Leather would be better, but hard to repair in case of
accidents by rats; guttapercha would be expensive, and perhaps thin metal
tubes with flexible joints may serve best. The largest hose carried by
iron-clads measures 19 to 20 inches in diameter, and is worked by 30 to 40
horse-power. Other vessels have a 15-inch hose worked by manual labour,
fifty men changed every ten minutes, and will throw the jet over the royal
yards of a first-class man-of-war. The floating power-engines attached to
the Dockyard reserves would represent the articles required.
With a diameter of from ten to fifteen inches, and a nozzle of three to
four inches, a 'crinoline-hose' will throw a stream a hundred feet high
when worked by the simplest steam-power process, and tear down a hill
more rapidly than a thousand men with shovels. The cost of washing
gravel, sand, and clay did not exceed in our colonies 1_d._ to 2_d._ per
ton; and thus the working expenses were so small that 4_d._ worth of
gold to the ton of soft stuff paid a fair profit. Lastly, there is
little danger to the miner; and this is an important consideration.
It is well known that California was prepared for agriculture and
viticulture by 'hydraulicking' and other mining operations. It will be the
same with the Gold Coast, whose present condition is that of the
Lincolnshire fens and the Batavian swamps in the days of the Romans. Let
us only have a little patience, and with patience perseverance, which,
'dear my Lord, keeps honour bright.' The water-jet will soon clear away
the bush, washing down the tallest trees; it will level the ground and
will warp up the swamp till the surface assumes regular raised lines. We
run no risk of covering the face of earth with unproductive clay. Here the
ground is wanted only as a base for vegetation; sun and rain do all the
rest. And thus we may hope that these luxuriant wastes will be turned into
fields of bustling activity, and will tell the tale of Cameron and me to a
But gold is not the only metal yielded by the Gold Coast. I have already
alluded in the preceding pages to sundry silver-lodes said to have been
worked by the old Hollanders. As is well known, there is no African gold
without silver, and this fact renders the legend credible. Even in these
dullest of dull days 63,337_l_. worth was the export of 1880. Iron is
everywhere, the land is stained red with its oxide; and manganese with
cobalt has been observed. I have mentioned that at Akankon my companion
showed me a large vein of cinnabar. Copper occurs in small quantities with
tin. This metal is found in large veins streaking the granite, according
to M. Dahse, who gave me a fine specimen containing some ten and a half
per cent. of metal. He has found as much as twelve per cent., when at home
2 to 2-1/2 per cent. pays. [Footnote: 'The present percentage of block-tin
derived from all the tin-ore ... of Cornwall is estimated at 2 per cent.,
or nearly 45 lbs. to the ton of ore.'--Davies, p. 391.] The aspect of the
land is diamantiferous; [Footnote: I hear with the greatest pleasure that a
syndicate has been formed for working the diamond-diggings of Golconda, a
measure advocated by me for many years. Suffice to say here that the
Hindus rarely went below 60 feet, because they could not unwater the mine,
and that the Brazilian finds his precious stones 280 feet below the
surface. Moreover the Indian is the only true diamond: the Brazilian is a
good and the Cape a bad natural imitation.] and it has been noticed that a
crystal believed to be a diamond has been found in auriferous gravel. In
these granitic, gneissose, and quartzose formations topazes, amethysts and
sapphires, garnets and rubies, will probably occur, as in the similar
rocks of the great Brazilian mining-grounds. The seed-pearl of the
Coast-oyster may be developed into a tolerable likeness of the far-famed
pear-shaped _Margarita_ of Arabian Katifah, which was bought by Tavernier
for the sum, then enormous, of 110,000_l_.
Pearl-culture is an art now known even to the wild Arab fisherman of the
far Midian shore. Lastly, the humble petroleum, precious as silver to the
miner-world, has been found in the British Protectorate about New Town.
LIST OF BIRDS COLLECTED BY CAPTAIN
BURTON AND COMMANDER CAMERON.
By R. BOWDLER SHARPE, F.L.S.
Vulturine Sea-eagle. Gypohierax angolensis.
Osprey. Pandion haliaetus.
Touracou. Corythaix persa.
Red-headed Hornbill. Buceros elatus.
Black Hornbill. Tockus semifasciatus.
Red-throated Bee-eater. Meropiscus gularis.
Blue-throated Roller with Eurystomus afer.
Kingfisher with black and red bill. Halcyon senegalensis.
Small Woodpecker. Dendropicus lugubris.
Sun-bird. Anthothreptes rectirostris.
Grey Flycatcher. (3 spec). Muscicapa lugens.
Dull olive-green Flycatcher with Hylia prasina.
pale eyebrow. 19.
Common Swallow. 33. Hirundo rustica.
Black Swallow with white throat. 30. Waldenia nigrita.
Grey-headed Wagtail. 22. Motacilla flava.
Black and chestnut Weaver-bird. 23. Hyphantornis castaneofuscas.
Turtle-dove. 15 Turtur semitorquatus.
Whimbrel. 5 Numenius phaeopus.
Grey Plover. 13 Squatarola helvetica.
Common Sandpiper. 18 Tringoides hypoleucus.
Spur-winged Plover. 11 Lobivanellus albiceps.
Green Heron. 7 Butoides atricapilla.
LIST OF PLANTS COLLECTED ON THE GOLD COAST BY CAPTAIN BURTON AND COMMANDER
(FURNISHED BY PROFESSOR OLIVER.)
_A considerable number of specimens either in fruit only or fragmentary
were not identifiable._
Oncoba echinata, Oliv.
Hibiscus tiliaceus, L.
" Abelmoschus, L,
Glyphaea grewioides, Hk. f.
Scaphopetalum sp. ? fruit.
Gomphia reticulata, P. de B.
" Vogelii, Hk. f,
" aff. G. Mannii, Oliv. an sp. nov. ?
Bersama? sp. an B. maxima? _fruit only_
Olaoinea? an Alsodeiopsis? _fruit only_
Hippocratea macrophylla, V.
Leea sambucina, W.
Paullinia pinnata, L.
? Eriocoslum sp. (fruiting specimen).
Cnestis ferruginea, DC.
Pterocarpus esculentus, Sch.
Baphia nitida, Afz,
Drepanocarpus lunatus, Mey.
Phaseolus lunatus? _imperfect_
Dialium guineense, W,
Berlinia an B. acuminata? var. (2 forms.)
Berlinia (same?) in fruit.
Combretum racemosum, P. de B.?
Combretum comosum, Don.
Lagunoularia racemosa, Gaertn.
Begonia sp. flowerless.
Modecca sp. nov. ? flowerless.
Sesuvium Portulacastrum? barren.
Tristemma Schumacheri, G. and P.
Smeathmannia pubescens, R. Br.
Sabicea Vogelii, Benth. var.
Ixora sp. f
Rutidea membranacea? Hiern.
Randia acuminata? Bth.
Dictyandra ? sp. nov.
Urophyllum sp. Gardenia? sp.
Gardenia ? sp
Pavetta ? sp.
Canthium, cf. C. Heudelotii, cf. Virecta procumbens, Hiern.; Sm.
Seven imperfect Rubiaceae (Mussaendae, & c.).
Diospyros sp.? (corolla wanting).
Ranwolfia Senegambiae, A. DC.
Tabernaemontana sp. in fruit.
Apocynacea, fragment, in fruit.
Two species of Strychnos in fruit: one with 1-seeded fruit singular and
probably new; the other a plant collected by Barter.
Ipomaea paniculata, Br.
Physalis minima, L.
Datura Stramonium ? scrap.
Brillantaisia owariensis, Beauv.
Lankesteria Barteri, Hk.
Lepidagathis laguroidea, T. And.
Ocyinum viride, W.
Platystomum africanum, Beauv.
Brunnichia africana, Welw.
Teleianthera maritima, Moq.
Phyllanthus capillaris, Muell. Arg., var.
Alchornea cordata, Bth. (fruit).
Cyclostemon? sp. (in fruit only).
Ficus, 3 species.
Musanga Smithii ? (young leafy specimens).
Culcasia sp, (no inflorescence),
Anchomanes, cf. A. dubius (no attached inflorescence).
Anubias ? sp. (no inflorescence).
Palisota thyrsiflora? Bth. (imperfect).
Palisota prionostachys, C.B.C.
" bracteosa, C.B.C.
Pollia condensata, C.B.C. (fruit).
Aneilema ovato-oblongum, P. de B.
Aneilema beninense, Kth.
Crinum purpurascens, Herb.
Haemanthus cinnabarinus? Denc.
Dracaena? sp. (fruit).
" (in fruit) aff. D. Cameroonianae, Bkr.
Flagellaria indica, L.
Cyrtopodium (? Cyrtopera longifolia, B.f.), no leaf.
Bulbophyllum ? sp. (no inflorescence).
Costus afer? Ker.
Trachycarpus (fruit) (= Vogel, no. 13).
Phrynium brachystachyum, Koern. (fruit).
Cyperus distans, L.
" cf. C. ligularis, L.
Mariscus umbellatus, V.
Panicum ovalifolium, P, de B.
Centotheca lappacea, Desv.
In fruit: a fragment, perhaps Anacardiacea.
Pteris (Campteria) biaurita, L.
" (Litobrochia) Burtoni, n. sp. 62.
Pteris (Litobrochia) atrovirens, Willd.
Lonchitis pubescens, Willd.
Nephrolepis ramosa, Moore.
" acuta, Presl.
Nephrodium subquinquefidum, Hook.
Nephrodium, type and var, N. variabile, Hook.
Nephrodium pennigerum, Hook.
Acrostichum sorbifolium, L.
" fluviatile, Hook.
Lygodium pinnatifidum, Sw.
Selaginella Vogelii, Spring.
" near anceps, A. Br.?
" near cathedrifolia Spring.
FUNGI, NAMED BY Dr. M. C. COOKE.
Polyporus (Mesopus) heteromorphus, Lev.
Polyporus (Mesopus) acanthopus, Fr.
Polyporus (Pleuropus)lucidas, Fr.
Polyporus (Pleuropus) sanguineus, Fr.
Polyporus (Placodermei) australis, Fr.
Polyporus (Placodermei) hemitephrus, Berh.
Trametes Carteri, Berk.
" occidentalis, Fr.
Daedalea sangninea, Kl.
Hydnum nigrum? Fr.
Cladoderris dendritica, Pers.
_The remainder not determinable._
[Transcriber's Note: This index applies to both volumes I and II
of this work. The entries in this text-ebook have only the volume
number, and not the page number.]
Abonsa (river), the, ii.
Abosu (mining village), ii.
proposed exchange of colonies between English and French, i.
trial by jury in, ii.
African, characteristics of the 'civilised,' ii.
limited power of kings,
disinclination to agriculture.
'African Times,' the, character of its journalism, i. ; ii.
Ahema, discovery of a diamond at, ii.
Ahoho (ant), the, ii.
Aji Bipa (mine), general description of, ii.
Akankon concession, the,
origin of name, ii.
general description and capabilities,
native squabbles over title,
Cameron's scheme for its working and local establishment,
occupation suggested for the leisure of the mining staff,
working hours and food.
Akra, earthquake at, ii.
Akus (tribe), the, ii.
Alligator-pear (_Pertea gratislima_), the, i.
Alta Vista (Mt. Atlas), i.
Ananse (silk spider), the, ii.
Ancobra (river), the,
origin of name, ii.
Apankru, a 'great central depot,' ii.
Apateplu (watch-bird), the, ii.
Apatim concession, the, capabilities of, ii.
Apo (chief), ii.
Apollonians (tribe), the, ii.
Ashanti, the 'scare' from, ii.
treaties with England,
Sir Garnet Wolseley's settlement only a partial success,
the royal place of human sacrifice,
her exclusion from the seaboard,
real and pretended causes of discontent,
the English Government's preparations to meet the 'imminent' invasion,
the King's excuses,
a mission of peace,
power and purport of the Gold Axe,
surrender of a false axe,
advocacy of a 'beach' for the Ashantis.
Assini (river), the, ii.
Atalaya (Canaries), and its troglodytic population, i.
Athole Hock, the, ii.
picturesque aspect of, ii.
tomb of a Dutch governor,
paradoxes of prison life,
characteristics of inhabitants,
peculiarities of personal names,
a negro 'king,'
'compliments' to African chiefs,
'the threshold of the Gold-region,'
hints on gold-mining,
departure of caravan from,
cost of transport at,
the 'Winding Water,'
the bars of the river.
Ball, a native, ii.
Bamboo-palm (_Raphia rigifera_), the, ii.
Bambuk mines, the, ii.
Bance (Bence's Island), i.
Bassam (Grand), ii.
Bathurst, physical formation, i.
its 'one compensating feature,'
the black health officer,
the Wolof, the only native tongue spoken by Europeans,
the 'African Times,'
Chinese coolie labour advocated,
Beds, African, ii.
Bein, origin of name, ii.
Birds, list of, collected by Capt. Burton and Commander Cameron, ii.
Black Devil Society (Liberia), ii.
Blake, Admiral Robert, at Tenerife, i.
Blay, King, state visit of, ii.
served with a writ,
his inflamed foot attributed to fetish,
property in mines,
loyalty to British Government.
Bobowusua (a fetish-island), ii.
Boma (fetish-drum), the, ii.
Bombax-trees (_Puttom Ceiba_), i.; ii.
Bonnat, M., ii.
Bottomless Pit (Little Bassam), the, ii.
Boutoo, etymology of, i.
Brackenbury, Capt., on the capabilities of the Gold Coast, ii.
Brezo (_Erica arborea_), the, i.
Bristol barque trade, the, on the West African coast, i.
Brovi (hardest wood), ii.
Bulama (colony), Capt. Beaver's description of, i.
Bulloms (tribe), i.
Butabue rapids, the, ii.
Calabar-Bean (_Physostigma venenosum_), ii.
Caldera de Bandana (Grand Canary), i.
Camara dos Lobos, i.
Cameron, Commander, his track and researches along the Gold Coast; i., ii.
personal account of further visits to the goldmines.
Canadas del Pico, Las, geological formation of; i.
Canarian Triquetra, the, i.
Canaries, the, cock-fighting at; i.
Canary-bird (_Fringilla Canaria_) the, i.
Canary (wine), i.
Cape Apollonia, origin of its name, ii.
Cape Girao, i.
Verde, derivation of name.
Capirote, or Tinto Negro (_Sylvia aticapilla_), the, i.
Cavally (river), the, ii.
Chasma, origin of, i.
Chigo (_Pulex penetrans_), the, ii.
Chinese coolie labour, ii.
Cinnabar vein, the, at Akankon, ii.
Cleanliness in W. African villages, ii.
Cocoa-tree, the, ii.
Codeso (_Adenocarpus frankenoides_), the, i.
Crannog, a, i.
Crockerville concession, description of the, ii.
tables of temperature, &c. at.
Cueva de Hielo, the, i.
Curlew (_Numenius arquata_), ii.
Custard-apple (_Anona squamosa_), i.
Dahse concession, the, ii.
Dakar, harbour of, i.
Desertas, the, i.
Divining-rod, the, used in goldmining, ii.
Dorimas (Grand Canary), i.
Dos Idolos, i.
Dragoeiro (_Dracoena Draco_, Linn.), the, i.
Dragon-tree, the Tenerife, i.
Drake, Sir Francis, inscription at Sierra Leone attributed to him, ii.
Drewins, the, ii.
Dum (_Oldfieldia africana_), the, ii.
Ebumesu (river), ii.
Eden, Dr., his account of the Guanches of Tenerife, i.
Effuenta mine, the, ii.
Elisa Cartago, ii.
El-Islam, spread of, on the Gold Coast, ii.
El Pilon, i.
Eshanchi (chief), ii.
Essua-ti, Mr. McCarthy's visit to, ii.
Felfa (_Gatropha curoas_), the, ii.
Fetish, i., ii.
Fetish-pot, the, i.
Fish-trap, an African, ii.
Fort James, i.
France as a colonising power, i.,
proposed exchange of her West African Colonies with England.
French colonisation _versus_ English, i.
Gallinas (river), the, ii.
Gallo (fighting-cook), the, i.
at the Canaries.
Gambia (river), the, ii.
the French on the.
Garajao (Madeira), physical formation of, ii.
Garraway trees, the, ii.
Gibraltar, physical outline of, i.
from English and Spanish points of view.
Gold Axe, the Ashanti, powers and purport of the symbol, ii.
Gold Coast, Captain Brackenbury on the, ii.
Mining Company, Limited, the.
Gold-digging in N.W. Africa, i.
origin and history,
description of the best known gold provinces,
estimate of the gold supply.
Gold-region, the threshold of the, i.
Gold-weights, African, i.
Gold-working, development of the modes of, ii.
Grand Bassa (Liberia), ii.
Grand Canary, i.
early attacks on,
description of the cathedral of Las Palmas,
the old palace of the Inquisition,
Hispano-Englishmen of Las Palmas,
physical conformation and general view of,
dress of inhabitants,
fluctuations in cochineal commerce,
Grand Curral (Madeira), the, i.
Grand Devil, the, of Kruland, ii.
Grand Tabu (island), ii.
Granton (Akankon), description of, ii.
Grebo war, the, ii.
Ground-nut (_Arackis hypogaea_), i.
Guanches (of Tenerife), their mummification of the dead, i.
derivation of the name,
the Guanche pandemonium.
Guinea, peach (_Sarcophalus esculentus_), the, ii.
Gyaman, history of, ii.
Hades, an African, ii.
Hahinni (_formica_), the, ii.
Harmatan (wind), origin of name, i.
Hierro, Numidio inscriptions of, i.
Hornbill (_Buccros_), the, ii.
Iboes (tribe), the, ii.
Ice-cave, an, i.
Ingotro concession, approach to the, ii.
native shafts in the valley of the Namoa,
origin of name,
the country 'impregnated with gold,'
Insimankao concession, the, ii.
size and geographical position.
Inyoko concession, size and site, ii.
its geography and geology,
Ionian Islands, i.
Islamism, progress of, in Africa, ii.
Izrah concession, the, ii.
derivation of name,
dimensions and site,
conflicting native claims,
diary kept at the diggings,
idleness of native workmen,
formally made over by King Blay,
James Island, i.
Japanese medlar (_Eriobotrya japonica_), the, i.
Jennings, Admiral, repulse of, in an attack on Tenerife, i.
Jervis, Admiral, failure of, before Tenerife, i.
Jungle-cow (or Nyare antelope, _Bosbrachyceros_), the, ii.
Jyachabo (silver-stone), ii.
Kingfisher (_alcedo_), the, ii.
King's Croom (mining village), ii.
Kokobene-Akitaki (mine), ii.
Kola-nuts (_Sterculia acuminata_), i.
Kong Mountains, ii.
Krumen, characteristics of the, ii.
Kumasi, origin of name, ii,
Kum-Brenni, origin of name, ii.
Kwabina Bosom (fetish rocks), ii.
Kwabina Sensense (African chief), ii.
Kwansakru, a women's gold-mining village, ii.
Labour, in West Africa, ii.
disinclination of natives to work,
influence of the decline of population on,
superiority of native women to men as labourers,
estimate of the respective value of the various tribes as labourers,
wages paid to natives,
coolie immigration advocated.
Lake village, a, i.
Las Palmas, i.
Liberia, colonisation of, ii.
india-rubber and coffee produce,
'the Black Devil Society',
progress of Islamism,
disinclination of natives to agriculture,
Lisbon, material progress of, i.
Logan, Sir William, on 'hydraulicking', ii.
Lugar do Baixo, i.
Machim's Cross, i.
Madeira, first sight of, i.
conflicting claims of discoverers,
early accounts of,
physical contrasts with Porto Santo,
views of geologists on,
contrasts of southern and northern coasts,
dress of peasants,
religious superstitions and morality,
geographical and geological characteristics,
demeanour of priests at service,
considered as a sanatorium,
'la petite industrie,'
Madeiran archipelago, the, geographical distribution of, i.
cedar-tree (_Jumperus Oxeycedrus_), the.
Mahogany (_Oldfieldia africana_), ii.
Mandenga (snake), the, i.
Mandengas (tribe), ii.
McCarthy, Mr. E. L., his visit to Essua-ti, ii.
Money, African, i.
Moslem Krambos (talisman and charm writers), ii.
Mount Atlas, height of, i.
routine ascent of,
zones of vegetation,
characteristics of snow,
height of the Pike.
Mount Geddia, ii.
Mount Mesurado, the 'cradle of Liberia,' ii.
Muka concession, the, i.
Nahalo (a women's village), ii.
Negro passengers on board the 'Senegal,' i.
their 'pidgin English,'
Nelson, Admiral, his repulse in an attack on Tenerife, i.
Nkran (formica), ii.
Nopal or Tunal plant (_Opuntia Tuna_ or _Cactus cochinellifer_), i.
Numidic inscriptions, i.
Occros (_Hibiscus_), the, ii.
Oil-palm (_Elais guineensis_), ii.
Oji, etymology of, ii.
Ore, cost of reducing, ii.
Osprey (_Haliaetus_), the, ii.
Osraman-bo (lightning-stones), ii.
Palm-birds (_Orioles_), ii.
Palmyra (_Borassus flabelliformis_), the, ii.
Papaw, the, ii.
Payne, Bishop, ii.
Pico del Pilon, the, i.
Pico Ruivo, i.
Pino del Dornajito, the, i.
Plants, list of, collected by Capt. Burton and Commander Cameron, ii.
Poke Islet, ii.
Ponta do Sol, i.
Porto Loko, ii.
Porto Santo, i.
Prince's river, ii.
a true lagoon-stream,
luxuriance of vegetation,
shifting aspects and bends of the river,
idiosyncrasies of native travelling,
Puerto de la Luz, i.
Retama (_Cytisus fragrans_, Lam), the, i.
San Christobal de la Laguna, i.
Sanguis Draiconis, i.
Santa Cruz (Madeira), i.
Santa Cruz (Tenerife), i.
Sao Joao do Principe, i.
Senegambia, French colonisation in, i.
Sickness on the West Coast of Africa, ii.
Sierra Leone, situation and aspect of, ii.
its only antiquity--Drake's inscription,
St. George's Cathedral,
plan of the 'city',
clothing and diet suitable for,
the 'Kissy' road,
abolition of slavery,
its four colonies,
the Sierra Leone Company,
rival races of the Aku and Ibo,
trial by jury,
influence of the Moslem faith on the negro character,
bad influence of the colony,
a 'peddling' people,
the true system of negro education,
Chinese coolie labour advocated,
Stanley's observations on the natives',
disinclination to agriculture.
Sisaman (the African Hades), ii.
Slavery, notes on, ii.
Spanish account of the repulse of Nelson from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, i.
Spiders, native beliefs concerning, ii.
Spur-plover (_Lobivanellus albiceps_), the, ii.
Stanley's, Mr., observations on the African labour question, ii.
St. John concession, the, ii.
St. Mary Bathurst, i.
Stone implements, ii.
Su, the African radical of water, ii.
Sulayma river, the, ii.
Sulphur, on Mount Atlas, analysis of, i.
Susus (tribe), the, i.
Swallow (_Wardenia nigrita_), the, ii.
Swanzy establishment, the, ii.
Tabayba (_Euphorbia canariensis_), the, ii.
Tagus, the, i.
character of its inhabitants,
Tamsoo-Mewoosoo mine, the, ii.
Tasso Island, i.
Tebribi Hill (mine), ii.
Telde (Grand Canary), i.
material progress of,
general aspect of streets,
ancient implements and dress,
range of civilisation of the Guanches,
dwellings of the Guanches,
powers of the Guanches as swimmers,
derivation of the name Guanche,
derivation of the name Tenerife,
dress and personal appearance of inhabitants,
Irish immigration to,
Jardin de Aclimatacion,
routine ascent of Mount Atlas,
height of Mount Atlas,
Admirals Blake, Jennings, and Jervis's defeats,
Til-trees (_Oreodaphne foetens_), i.
Timnis (tribe), the, i.
Tinctura Warburgii, ii.
Tiya (_P. canariensis_), the, i.
Troglodytic populations, i.
Tsetze-fly (_Glossinia morsitans_), the, i.
Tsil-fui-fui-fui (bird), the, ii.
Tumento, meaning of name, ii.
the 'grand central depot,'
Cameron's illness at,
geographical position of.
Vai (tribe), ii.
Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis), the, ii.
Wages, scale of, on Gold Coast, ii.
Warry (a native game), ii.
Wasawahili (tribe), the, ii.
Wilberforce memorial, the, at Sierra Leone, i.
'Willyfoss' (Wilberforce) nigger, a, ii.
Winwood Reade, cited, ii.
Wolof, the, tongue spoken by Europeans, i.
Wolofs (tribe), the, i.
Wolseley, Sir Garnet, at Ashanti, ii.
Women's gold-mining village, a, ii.
Zodiacal light, the, i.
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