Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

2 erthygl ar y dudalen hon


Letters from West Africa.


Letters from West Africa. The subjoined letters have been received by the Rev W. Hughes, F.R.G.S., Principal of the Congo African Training Institute, Colwyn Bay:— Quittah, S.S. Dahomey, West Africa, July 28bh, 1894. Dear Mr Hughes,—It is fully one month and five days since we left Liverpool. Were we doing this journey forty or fifty years ago, without our present accommodation and other accessories to ease and comfort at command, we would, we apprehend, have been less disposed to regard it as too much of a good thing," than we are now, through the amazing abridgment made by modern civilisation, in both time and distance. The symptoms of repugnance to devote several weeks to a long journey performed by com- paratively slow stages, is, no doubt, accentuated by the revolution that steam and electricity have brought about in the modes of travel and communication. Duty, however, may have so commanding a place in the journey as (for a time, at least) to conceal wholly that repugnance, whilst the companionships of the journey, or the scenes or scenery, or both, may be of such a character as not only to conceal, but positively to transform that repugnance into real and evident enjoyment. We are having this enjoyment. It is made up almost exclusively of the latter of these com- positions, which, although it is by no means unalloyed, we will draw from for presentation here. The land we have touched, from Cape Verdi to the Gold Coast, varies in beauty and attractiveness. Thus Sierra Leone, the French coast, beginning from where it adjoins the Liberian Territory at Cavelley River to its interruption at Asinee, and the English coast from that point to Quittah, the land raising itself from the contiguous lowing country, is distributed into chains of mountains, rolling plains, and gracefull hills, all of which are ornamented with the most gorgeous foliage. The rest of the Coast, for the most part, is flat, but, viewed from a distance, with the ribbon-like strip of shore binding its vegetation of green with the deep blue of the ocean, it will be seen not to be altogether devoid of beauty. The African coast is singularly destitute of those fissures and indentations by which safe anchorage is afforded to ships, and this is especially true of the part known as the Gold Coast. This deficiency, which is attributed to the great geological age of the Continent, exposes the un- protected coast to the full force and fury of the restless and boisterous waves. The strong surf occasioned by these waves gives rise oftentimes to many amusing scenes, and occasionally to tragical as well as to comical scenes. Arriving in the roadstead of one of the many ports at which the steamers on what is called the West Coast route call, the first signal from the ship is the firing of the gun. The anchor is then dropped, and those on board with leisure hasten to the starboard or port side of the ship, to the fore-part or aft, according to where the best view can be gained from, to see the place of arrival. Soon after, the shore on which, a few minutes previously, no sign of animation was visible, suddenly is aroused to considerable excitement. Natives, most of whom are apparently nude, swarm the beach. 'J'hey rush to the different boats lying about the beach, owned by the factories or stores in whose employ they are. The boats are dragged down to the water's edge, the approach of the next great advancing wave is awaited, when, with one united push, and a given signal, all are not only in their respective boa.ts, but each boat is being swept along by the receding billow. It is quite a sight to watch, after that these men have committed themselves and their boats to the surf. First they pop down into a chasm formed by the sea as it leaves the shore; in that, which seems as if likely to be their graves, they remtin sometimes hidden, for a second or two, altogether from sight. The witer next takes the form of an incline, on which the boat climbs by means of the unexpended energy it obtained in its recent descent. Rising to the t)p of this wave- incline, its third act is a distinct leap, t) the water below, from the top of the wave-crest. This con- stitutes but one series of aquatic evolutions that these boats, with their hardy occupmts, have to perform, and we have counted as many as six before their final release can be declared from the surfic encounter. Of course, the movements here described run so quickly into one another that, when one is undergoing them in a boat, one is not conscious of them all, although, when observed from a distance, they may be each recognised. Emerging from this savage belt of water, the boatmen slacken the speed with which they thrust the water with their paddles. And whereas, when engiilfed in the waves, one saw nothing but the struggle, now, as they are drawing nearer the ship, the wind wafts to us snatches of their melodies. Here they come, six or seven boats starting from different points on the shore, but all converging at one place,-the steamer. One member of each boat leads the song, the rest joining in the chorus only. They arrive at the steamer, some singing, some laughing, some chaffing, one throwing his paddles in air between the strokes and catching it agtin; another further varies the scene with a dance. All are happy and as merry as larks. They are now along- side the ship. The clerks who are to check the goods as they are passed into the boats come on board. Now hearken to the unintelligible cataract of verbiage that is flowing at the ship's side-seldom subsiding to a murmur,but often swelling in volume to a tumultuous row. At such an elevation of passion, a stranger hur- ries to the side of the vessel to see who struck first, to see one of the combatants drenched in blood, or the weaker one struggling helplessly in the water, He soon perceives that none of these contingencies had tran- spired, and, by a similar reward to sundry successive expeditions, it ultimately dawns on his consciousness that these outbursts are not the demonstration of anger, but an innocent exchange of ideas under ordinary business transactions. We have now to go on shore to engage a carpenter to go with us. One boat is about to leave for the shore, freighted with iron pots we approach the clerk in whose charge the boat is, to secure a passage on shore, but he is so absorbed in discussing a matter relating to the number of pots he had received, that we absolutely failed to reach his ear. But we espy another boat aft, laden with bags (presumably rice) and bales, ready for dispatch. Making known our desire, a passage is readily and courteously granted us. Soon we are over the ship's side and in boat; the work of pulling now begins, enlivened with song. The song ceases suddenly a conversation springs up, in which all, in a subdued tone, take part. The intercourse is carried on in the G-ar language, which we do not understand, yet, when we notice all eyes centred on us, we con- clude that we were the subject of conversation. But for what reason, was beyond the ken of our finite understanding. Our embarrassment is at length relieved when one of the number, in broken, yet intelligible, English, informed us that one of his comrades had seen us on the Congo. We doubted the correctness of the statement, but certain incidents were recalled that dissipated our doubt, and proved not only that we were seen on the Congo by this man, but that he was one of the crew with whom we travelled, and in company with another missionary, nearly a hundred miles in an open boat up the Congo, over four years ago. We are happy over this renew il of acquaintanceship. But we are nearing the billowy region the men therefore cleave to their paddles with redoubled tenacity One more stroke and we are in the first, then the next, and so on until one monster more huge than all the rest comes rolling towards us, and, but for the skill of the men, would hive drenched us. We escape him, but here is another coming, and here we are at the very shore,— >ne m )re stroke, and we have won. The next thing we notice is that we are in the hands of two of these stidwirt boatmen, one being our Congo friend. From their hands we are transferred to their shoulders, when, amid the breaking of the last wive, we are borne in triumph to the shore, not only in soundness of body, but with our garments dry- We hinted already about the spa.rseliness of;these boatmen's attire. It is but a semblance of covering that oftentimes does nob even encircle the loins. Let it not be thought, however, that this is their only form of dress, for indeed it would be incompatible with the large number of biles that they take ashorp,-an indication of great con- sumption of cloth. The reason then for this extreme economy in dress is that, in case of danger, such as the capsizing of a boat by the surf, as occasionally happens, they may be free not only to save themselves but also the goods that they take ashore. Nor is this precaution confined to the crews, but taken aIs) by the clerks, whose reduction, however, does not usually pass beyond the use of pygtira suits. One of these gentlemen, however, less indifferent to appearances than his neighbours, had the hardihood to present himself on board in his under-garments only; and, when taken to task by a companion of yore, he offered the above reason as and excuse. My friend, however, was not disposed to take such a humane view of the case, for he actually endangered that precious life with a pair of trousers, which was readily enough donned, The agility of these Coast tribes in the water is simply astounding1, When alongside, they will frequently jump into the water from the boat, presumably to cool themselves. We refer here, and have been referring, especially to the Fantus. But the same is, true of the Kroos, who are (not without truth) called the water-man of West Africa. It is quite interesting to see them on the, Kroo-coast in their little canoes. Even boys of ten or twelve will be alone in one of these tiny crafts, and two or three.1 miles from land, and that when it is not calm either. See the little fellowl manipulating his ca-noe with as much ease and grace as an expert rider his thorough- bred. Even during a visit extending several hours, the social, commercial, and political condition of a place of moderate size can with some accuracy, through intelligent and reliable information and close observation, be diagnosed six days in the week. Whereas in religion, as the bulk of Christians go to Church only one day in seven, unless the visitor is present on that day, and during certain hours of that day, he cannot so well, by observation, be aided towards a tolerably correct diagnosis of the religious life of such a place. On this account, we have been unable, so far, to say anything of this phase of life in most of the places touched during the voyage. Of the six Sundays, two only have been spent on shore. But one of these was where Roman Catholicism denominates. And of the other, we had the ill-fortune not to arrive in the forenoon, when the morning services are in, nor in the evening, when the other adult services are conducted, but in the after- noon, when the Sunday Schools only meet. But even for this we felt that we were sufficiently rewarded. The Sunday we allude to was spent at Cipe Coast Castle. The three channels through which missionary life flows most visible on the parts of the Coast we have traversed are the Church Missionary Society, the Wesleyan Missionary Society, and the Basil Mission. The efforts of the two first have been directed with considerable success to the culture of the heart and head, whilst the last, in addition to these, has embraced also the culture of the hands, by the teach- ing of handicrafts. The C.M.S. has now, however, recognised this last, and is seriously endeavouring to follow in the wake of the Basil Mission, by the establishment of an Industrial School at Sierra Leone. At Cape Coast Castle, the Wesleyans take the lead in ordinary Mission work. Going on shore with two gentlemen, natives of the place, who recently com- pleted their studies in mining and engineering III England, and with whom we travelled from Liverpool, also a Geraia-n Missionary going to Little Popo, we first visited the Sunday School of the Episcopal Church, and after that the Wesleyan School. This consists of an Infant Department, a Department for Senior Mile Scholars, a third for Senior Female Scholars, and numbers in the aggregate 1500 scholars. These divisions are each held in separate buildings. We went to the infants first, and found them busy with their lessons, giving great attention, and reading out very lustily. Their dress consists mainly of one longer strip of cloth, which, besides going around the waist, is used also for covering the upper part of the body. Otherwise, two shorter pieces are used for the same purposes. They were speaking Fantic. From the infants, we proceeded to the older in tie scholars. Their Classes were in the room used for the Day School, and its walls decorated with maps representing the world and the different countries, besides diagramatic representations of various sciences, etc. Here, we were introduced to the native minister, the Rw Mr Anaman. At this gentleman's suggestion, we returned with him to the infants, and he was good enough to allow them to entertain us with a few hymns sung to tunes from Sankey's collection. But the treat was awtiting us in the Senior Girls' School. Here we listened with intense delight to a number of pieces. But those that charmed us most were tunes of native production. We had also the privilege of addressing soma words to this section, and left, foolirtig thankful for all that we had seen. Waat Africa needs is not a new Gospel, but a more effective application of the old, by a larger number publishing and larger number practising. And this need is over- whelmingly great when one notices that, notwith- standing all that is done, the missionary regiments have practically not advanced beyond the C),ist, nor do they occupy all the Coast. But, whilst there are these gaps in missionary battilions that hold the Coast, the army of corn fierce hold with stubborness every available point commanding the vast interio", and, through them, inundate this unmeasured expanse with the surplus of its merchandise. From city and towns of respectable sizes, to hamlets of contemptible proportions, these zealous scouts faithfully prosecute their vigil. And observe the mixture which this Con- tinent absorb every week —bales, b igs, barrels, hogs- heads, casks, kegs, cases, packages of diverse dimensions, iron pots, iron fi)ops, corrugated iron, etc. These, numbered not by tens but by hundreds, are the ordinary supplies that Africa draws weekly from Europe. What a splendid customer she must be? And let us hope that in the bestowal of reciprocal benefits by Europe, there will be considered not only her own gain, but Africa's permanent gain also. Europe can only initiate, but can never accomplish, Africa's moral, mental, and material elevation. This achievement a wise Providence has reserved to Africa herself. Further, such an elevation will reflect larger and richer rewards to Europe. If, then, the wisdom of Europe is stronger than her avarice, taking the lowest ground only, she will jealously, in her deitiligs with Africa, guard agiinst those acts and gifts that tend to weaken, if not destroy, those upon whom the ultimate rise of the Continent depends, and not only guard against—but strive to promote—those agenoies whose endeavour is to place Africa's sons into that position from which they can best secure the s tlvation of their fatherland. And, whatever self-denial such » course involves, it would be altogether oversha lowed by the harvest that would be reaped by Europe. On this ground, then, of reflective advantage, we venture to touch this branch of the subject. Bat we know that a nobler and worthier motive-power moves many who live and die for Africa. All have their reward. THEO. E. S. SCHOLES, M.D. [COPY.] Ikoko Station, L tke Ntomba, A.B.M.U., Congo Independent Stte, 6 August, 1894. Dear Mr and Mrs Hughes,—Thank you so very much for yo ir kind loving letter. I was very pleased to hear from you all again, and to know of the increment of your w rk at C jlwyn Biy. It now shows that it is really G)d that has open this work through your hands, and you must now work at it until Go ends it. Mr and Mrs Clark have gone down to stay at Irebo for a while, and have left me here -,t licok) to take charge of the Station until they return. Mr Moody, the name of the gentleman who was the superintendent of the Irabo Station, has gone home to America, ILnd Mr Clark is supposed to stay there until someone comes to take charge of the Irebo Station, and then he will return again to Ikoko. He his left with IlIe two boys, and sometimes about twenty boys from the town come to school, and I teach them. I can speak the language of these people now very well,—°a Sundays, I ring the bell, and a lot of them comet? hear me telling them about the infinite love of Chris*, who came down to die for all man; we must be very grateful to G) I for loving us so much as to send doW1 His Son which He loved so dearly to die for our Stns. Tney say thit they like us very much,—wa do not fight with them, nor steal their things like some men do; we inuit not go away but stay here, and teach them more about God. One Sunday, I went to a town about one mile frodl our Station, and I met a lot of men gambling, and I asked them if they could stip for a few muiutiS, an l I would tell them about God's love, and they said yeg, and they stopped and called for the others that were far, to come and hear, and they citne, and I toll therll that they were dying in their sins, and, if they wanted anyone to wash away their sins, it is only Jesus, the Son of God, who could wash our sins, etc., and the" engaged in prayer, and after the service they asked me to go there every Sunday an 1 preach to them. I have just been there to speak to them, bllt chey are in a b d stite, some of these Ntangi people. The state N'tmgi hive been going in the villages, a.1 killing people without law, but I shall go there agairt next Sunday. I have no news to tell you ab:mt Diniel, I am so far up that I do not hear from him. I could write to but I do not know what place he has gone to. I him at Lukunga, but he has gone from there, the la3" letter I had from one of my friends told me that he was sick from sleeping sickness. Poor Daniel, I aBl very sorry about him. Thank you very much for t6 card with the four children. Joseph has improved i° his work. You asked me if Miggie has come from America yet,—no, she has not come yet. I not know when she is coming,—I think in about» year's time. And so Kate is married, I am sorry shi did not send me her wedding-cake. I am too far* suppose. My last love to Nkinzi, and to all the of the boys. Mr and Mrs Clark send their bost regards to you all. Please will you be so kind 905 o tell Mr E. J. Davies that I have no time to write him just now, but I will write to him as soon a3 I caOi possibly by the next mail. Thank him, please, fot for his kind letter. I raliit not forget to thank yoU again for the reports, I always like to hear from all, and know how you are getting 011 with the wo1^* Willie sends his best lo/eto you all; please remauiba £ ina to all the friends at Colwyn B ly. ,< I must now come to an end, hoping that you are well.—I remain, with kind regards, yours truly, Fbank T. Ci-A-F-lic- May God always help you in your work. [COPY.] Irebu, Aug. nth, 1 ^ifjne Dear Mr Hughes,—Frank does very well—he is quite among the people of licoko,—t mean he has no dowll-coLlI1 person with him, noritiyotio even from here. He plods away quietly and faithfully.. as Willie is here with ma. He is working with Mr Finch, an apprentice to the carpentry. He is a great help to me in many ways..ffs Mrs Clark joins me in very kind regards to you and Hughes. j'ff May <Jod bless you}both and guide you in serving Even yours in the Lord's work, JOSEPH