Imatges de pÓgina

ambitious conception ! Unfortunately, my copy (for I purchased the MS.) is incomplete, there being only a hundred and four pages, but it is undoubtedly genuine. Black, blue, and red inks were used by the scribe and each page is surrounded by a border, while the paper whereon it is so clearly and carefully transcribed seems obviously to have formed part of the loot of Khartoum. For the pages, which are ruled for accounts, bear the impress of the Arabic seal of the 'Khartoum Commercial Tribunal,' and were evidently torn from a local merchant's books, it having been the custom for tradesmen to have each page of their ledgers and cash-books thus stamped with the seal of the Court for their protection in cases of disputed account where the Tribunal required the production of their books as evidence.?

Much has been written in condemnation of the Mahdi; of the strife and misery that accompanied his crusade, and of his later cruelty and sensuality. Let us to-day remember rather his earlier devout asceticism ; his undoubted earnestness; and the fact that, though the gospel he proclaimed does not find universal acceptance, he at least was not a hypocrite knowingly resting his faith, as many are prone to do, on a foundation of falsehood which every new wave of thought tends to sweep away. He verily believed in the Moslem prayer : There is no God but God, the living, the steadfast. He slumbereth not, nor sleeps. Whatsoever is, in the heavens and on the earth, is His.' So in the name of the Sovereign of the day of judgment' let us forgivingly wish the Mahdi peace :

Beyond the margin of death's sil ent sea.

South of Khartoum proper, across the desert rac-course and golflinks, and hard by what remains of Gordon’s fortifications, dwell, each in their own settlement with its distinctive huts, the divers native tribes who make up the city's indigenous population. Probably the new Khartoum of to-day, with Omdurman and the near villages, totals nearly one hundred thousand souls, and, considering that its geographical situation so admirably adapts itself to fostering the expansion of trade, I venture to predict that in another fifty years

1 In his Ten Years' Captivity in the Mahdi's Camp, Father Ohrwalder mentions several • Ratibs,' or Mahdi's book of prayers. In Fire and Suord in the Soudai, Slatin Pasha writes (p. 525): "The Rateb is read in various groups, as enjoined by the Mahdi. This consists of a selection of verses and special prayers from the Kuran, and occupies about an hour,' and again (p. 547) he ascribes to the Khalifa the exhortation, * Read the Mahdi's Rateb ; and be ever ready to fight against the unbelievers.' In A Prisoner of the Khaleefa, Charles Neufeld says (p. 94): “We had to read the Mahdi's “ Ratib," a description of prayer-book, containing extracts from the Quoran with interpolations of the Mahdi. The “Ratib” occupied about threequarters of an hour in recitation. The book was carried in a small leather case suspended from the neck. A number of copies were printed on the old Government press, but it was considered more meritorious to write out a copy rather than purchase one, and the Mahdi had hoped that this Ratib would eventually become a sort of Quoran.'

Khartoum will contain half a million inhabitants. The Soudanese, especially the Shillooks, the Dinkas, and the warlike Baggaras, are a fine body of men often standing over six feet in height, but, owing to climatic reasons, and to the fact that the greed of money for wealth's sake has not yet taken great hold on them, they seem for the most part innately lazy, working only for short spells at a time and then resting until the simple necessaries of life give out; their ideal of happiness, apparently, being to work as little as possible. They again take to toil solely to earn fresh supplies and, even so, common report has it that it requires many adult Soudanese labourers to do the work accomplished by one Egyptian peasant. Women labour as well as men, and one often hears them singing, chattering, and laughing while at their tasks. Their clothing is scanty, but, like Eve before the fall, they know no shame. The chief raiment of the unmarried girls is a circular leathern apron, the thin thongs of hippopotamus hide or twisted cord, of which it is formed, falling like a fringe from the waist towards the knees. This rahat is sometimes ornamented with shells, beads, or beaten silver, and when a girl marries, her virginal dress is generally destroyed by the bridegroom.

The material condition of the people is improving ; indeed, it is already prosperous. For the first time in their history the Soudanese are an absolutely free people, living under a Government anxious to protect them from injustice and to promote their welfare ; it is hard for stay-at-home Britishers to realise adequately how far-reaching is this change in a land 'where slavery in one form or another has been for thousands of years a permanent and universal institution. The present crux of the situation in the Soudan is the dearth of labour. In 1883 the population was reckoned at eight and a half millions ; twenty years later it was estimated by British officials at under two millions, inter-tribal and external wars, and fell disease-smallpox, cholera, &c.—having claimed during the long reign of Dervish power, and in almost equal proportions, six and a half million victims. Consider seriously what this terrible mortality signifies; three persons out of every four blotted out, and of these an undue proportion adult males. It means that hundreds of the large villages are now deserted ruins and that other villages which formerly could furnish five hundred fighting men can now muster scarcely one hundred virile labourers. The importation of negroes from America has been proposed, but for various reasons I doubt the feasibility of the scheme. To Lord Cromer, and to Lord Kitchener, I venture to commend the examination of the suggestion, which I now put forward with the deferential hesitation but seemly in one unacquainted with our Indian Empire, of relieving the famine and congested areas of that great Asian peninsula by inducing Mohammedans—those used to agricultural pursuits or to irrigation earthworks would be the most useful—to migrate to the Anglo-Egyptian Soudan. Should these two master minds hold the plan to be practicable, it would not only relieve India but greatly benefit the depopulated Soudan. It is true that the former prejudice against the Soudan, which for years had an evil reputation with Egyptians, is gradually dying out, and that artisans from the Delta, chiefly carpenters, masons, and builders, now seek work in Khartoum, but, knowing the fellaheen as I know them, I dare not deem it probable that Egyptians will ever voluntarily go south in any considerable numbers.

In all confidence we may leave the immediate future welfare of the Soudan to the able guidance of Sir Reginald Wingate and the Governor of Khartoum, Colonel Stanton, and of the small body of picked officers and civilians who labour with them, and among whom meritless seniority is no stepping-stone to promotion. The policy of that little band of Empire-makers is founded on equity, equality, and freedom; they restrain their natural impulse to model the new institutions on those to which, in more civilised lands, they were accustomed, and they make for success by taking into account the varied interests of the several tribes, and by respecting the native ideals, however strange these latter may appear to the Western mind.

To Lord Cromer's wise counsel and untiring efforts the new Soudan owes much, and in 1901 the Shillook and Dinka representatives fully recognised this, when, using for the simple ceremony a sort of dark green fez, they crowned him their king. In the name of his own great Sovereign, whose ensign holds sway on every continent and on all known seas, his Lordship promised that the sacred law of Islam shall be respected; and the very remarkable agreement of the 19th of January, 1899, gave to this hitherto down-trodden people their Magna Charta, for Article II. stipulates that 'the British and Egyptian flags shall be used together, both on land and water, throughout the Soudan'; and wheresoever on that Dark Continent the Union Jack waves, whether on sea, lake, or river, or over teeming towns, humble hamlets, weary wastes, swampy sudd, or fertile fields, there shall abide alway, as in the New Khartoum, Justice and Liberty.




The question of how to make the negro work has been debated in many spheres of late. To make Africa an enormously wealthy continent a labour force is required which must at first be directed by the knowledge and enterprise of the white man. The negro is constantly accused of being too lazy. To supplement him or displace him, attempts are made over and over again to introduce the Asiatic or some inferior type of white man.

Of course, in some districts as yet imperfectly controlled, the negro is unwilling to work lest the wealth he might amass from his labour would be an inducement on the part of some robber tribe or unscrupulous chief to inflict violence on him. The middleman is the curse of certain regions of West Africa, where he is still able to prevent the enterprising and producing natives of the far interior from coming into contact with the civilised negro or European purchaser on the coast. But all things being equal, and a reasonable degree of protection being assured to the native of Africa, he is as willing to work for a salary as the Asiatic or the European.

From time immemorial, however, this one idea seems to have possessed the Europeans and Asiatics who have exploited Africa—that the negro was a fit subject to be cheated. For at least three thousand years the black man, where he has come into contact with the white one, has grown accustomed to be defrauded in greater or less degree. Fortunately, unlike the Asiatic, he seems incapable of long cherishing any grudge-he is the readiest of all races to forgive, the greatest optimist of all the human types.

In no part of Africa has the negro been more unjustly treated than in those regions of the Congo imperfectly controlled by the Government of the Congo State, and nearly ruined by those companies to whom dangerously large powers had been granted. On the other hand, perhaps, in no other region of late have greater successes been scored than have been achieved by free Belgians, Belgians untrammelled by the short-sighted greed of the concessionnaire companies.

To one of these-M. Louis Goffin, who has recently published a most interesting work on the history of the Congo Railway,' and who

I Weissenbruch, Brussels, 1907.

was formerly the chief engineer employed in the construction of that railway-I am indebted for some valuable remarks on the subject of forced labour. These were sent to me in connection with a study of Congo questions in general, but they are sufficiently interesting at this juncture, I think, to be presented to the readers of this REVIEW at a time when most parties have united in withdrawing Asiatic labourers from South Africa. It must not be forgotten (as was established in reports of committees on native affairs published as Bluebooks by the Colonial Governments of South Africa) that many of the faults attributed to Congo Free State management have occurred in the treatment of the natives under the British flag in South Africa, though Colonial good sense or British public opinion has caused investigations and prompt amendments.

M. Goffin's remarks, summarised and translated, are as follows:

' Unfortunately, very few of our Congolese ? can shake themselves free of the influence of a tradition created by the first necessities in the task of opening up Africa. If you question them, they will reply for the most part that forced labour is necessary; that if the black man is not constrained to work, he remains idle. This opinion is even shared by some of the highest functionaries.

* We also—my comrades and I of the railway-shared this view during the first years of the construction of the line from Matadi to Léopoldville, but the facts of the case gradually modified our opinion.

. At the beginning we had several hundred men, recruited from the lower grades of the population of Sierra Leone. We were unable to engage the natives of the Cataract region of the Congo, because their labour was considered scarcely sufficient for the needs of ordinary porterage between Matadi and Léopoldville on the part of the State, of the missions, and of trading firms. So we also engaged Kruboys, Accra men, Hausas from Lagos, and natives from Dahomé.

'We found ourselves, as everybody knows, face to face with great natural obstacles. Moreover, our black personnel, quite as much as the staff of white men, was decimated by sickness. Out of 2000 negroes employed on the construction in 1892, 150 a month died from illness, principally in that valley of the Mpozo, so much admired nowadays by the traveller comfortably installed in a saloon-car.

* All along the track one would see corpses of negroes dead of smallpox, dysentery, beri-beri. At times in the morning we would see before the door of our cabin the

corpse of some negro dead during the night, placed there by his exasperated comrades as a protest. ... The men who still remained untouched by sickness were demoralised by fear, and had to be compelled to work by dint of sheer compulsion —the force used being the negative one of depriving them of all salary or even rations. . . . It was, in fact, forced labour. But what were we to do? It was vitally necessary to construct this line of

" I.e., Belgians associated with the Congo.

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