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British and other European Possessions in Africa. page 3


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In 1877 the arrival of Sir Bartle Frere, formerly governor of Bombay, as governor and "High Commissioner," caused the Zulu war, through his peremptory demand for the disbanding of Cetewayo's great native army. The chief incidents are well known: the disastrous defeat of our forces at Isandula (or Isandlana); the heroic defence of Rorke's Drift, on the Tugela river; our victory in July, 1879, at Ulundi; the capture of the brave Cetewayo. In that year and 1880 Kaffir territory, including Fingoland, was annexed, and Griqualand West became part of the colony.

The next event was the war with the Boers of the Transvaal, who had migrated from Cape Colony and founded an independent state as an oligarchical republic. The country was at the lowest point of financial distress when, in 1878, the British government, falsely informed as to the people's wishes, annexed the territory. This act was followed by a rebellion at the close of 1880; the defeat at several places of our forces, ill-led against marksmen of wonderful skill; and the re-establishment of the Transvaal republic under a convention reserving a kind of suzerainty to Great Britain. In 1885 more territory was annexed, and in 1890 that remarkable man, Cecil J. Rhodes, became Premier. His aims as regards the extension of British power and territory in Africa are well known, and to his consent, in a moment when his better judgment was astray, was due the disastrous and lawless movement of the last days of 1895, known as the "Jameson Raid." The Transvaal republic, through the discovery of rich stores of gold, had assumed a new importance in the world, and under the rugged, shrewd, typical Boer, Paul Kruger, as President, maintained a form of rule excluding the foreign element, the vast majority in numbers and the mainstay of prosperity, from any share of power. This treatment of the "Uitlanders," or Outlanders in Boer-English, caused the "Raid," ending in the defeat of the invaders at the little battle of Kriigersdorp, and the punishment, after trial in London, of Dr. Jameson and his chief associates by terms of imprisonment. The Commons committee of inquiry in 1897, condemning "the Raid," reported that "grave injury had been thereby caused to British influence in South Africa." In 1894 and 1895 the territory of Cape Colony had grown in the addition of West Pondoland and of British Bechuanaland, the latter, with a Protectorate, forming a region nearly eight times the area of England.

British South and Central Africa, or British Zambesia and Nyassaland, a vast region with an estimated area of 500,000 square miles, lying south and north of the great river Zambesi, the southern territory including Mashonaland and Matabeleland (the two forming "Rhodesia"), had its origin, as a political territory, in 1878, in the trading operations of a "Central Africa Company." The European "rush" for the partition of Africa caused the rise, in October, 1889, of a larger association, the "British South Africa Company," with Mr. Cecil Rhodes, Premier of Cape Colony, as "managing director." Under a charter from the Crown, conferring large powers of administration, this Company set to work with energy to occupy its territories, and develop their resources. In 1888 a treaty made by Lo Ben-gula the king of Matabeleland, with Sir Hercules Robinson (Lord Rosmead), governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner for South Africa, had secured British influence against all native and foreign rivals. Warfare quickly followed the appearance of the new Company on the scene. The Matabele chieftain was ruler of a nation of about 200,000, composed of Zulus who had migrated towards the north early in Queen Victoria's reign. His army mustered 15,000 warriors, commanded by indunas or chiefs, and formed into impis or regiments. Raids into Mashonaland were the source of trouble with the Company, who, in 1890 and the following year, occupied that territory, establishing armed posts or forts, and started gold-mining on a large scale, while about 2,000,000 acres of land were settled by farmers migrating from Cape Colony and the Transvaal. In 1891 the Company, under arrangements with the British government, was installed also to the north of the Zambesi, the Nyassaland districts becoming the "British Central Africa Protectorate," administered by a "Commissioner and Consul-General" under the Foreign Office. In June, 1891, treaties made with Portugal and Germany added about 350,000 square miles to our territory, and "British Central Africa" began to exist. In October, 1893, war came with Lo Bengula's people, and after some fighting in which breechloaders and Catling guns prevailed over spears, his capital, Bulawayo, was occupied, and Matabeleland was annexed. In December, 1895, the cause of personal freedom in Africa was advanced by the conquest, after a brilliant campaign under Sir Harry Johnston, the Central African Commissioner, of the slave-raiding chief Mlozi, of north Nyassa. His capital was taken, and he, condemned after trial by native chiefs, was hanged. This event made an end of slavery in most of that region. In January, 1896, the Protectorate forces severely defeated slave-trading chiefs on the western shores of Lake Nyassa, storming their towns, replacing them by British forts, and blocking the slave-route to the Zambesi. In March of the same year a formidable rebellion in Matabeleland, not fully subdued in 1893, occupied British forces for some months at and near Bulawayo, the enemy holding strong positions in the Matoppo Hills. Some good military work was done under Sir Frederick Carrington, and before Christmas the war was ended by the submission of the natives throughout Rhodesia. This result was followed by the extension of the railway, already stretching from Capetown, through Bechuanaland, to Mafeking, as far as Bulawayo, the last section of the line being opened in November, 1897, in presence of Sir Alfred Milner, the new Governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner for South Africa. Bulawayo, the capital of Rhodesia, had by this time become a civilised modern town, with the usual public buildings, and protected by a chain of forts in the Matoppo Hills.

"British East Africa" had its rise in the operations of the "Imperial British East Africa Company," under a charter of 1888, with a vast territory lying between the Galla country to the north and German East Africa to the south. Agreements with the Italian and German governments and with the Sultan of Zanzibar secured the frontier-line, and afforded a coast-line of about 700 miles, with ports at Mombasa, Lamu, and elsewhere. In March, 1893, the Company retired from the occupation of Uganda, and two years later the association became extinct in the sale of all its property, assets, and rights to the imperial government. In June, 1895, a British Protectorate was proclaimed over the whole of the territory, from the coast to Uganda, and in August, 1896, the "British East Africa Protectorate" passed under the control of the Foreign Office, governed by a Commissioner and a Consul-General, who is also British agent at Zanzibar, itself a kind of British protectorate with its state-accounts and expenditure subject to the control of that official. The "Uganda Protectorate" was established in 1896, with borders extended so as to include Unyoro and other territory to the east and Usoga to the west. In 1877 English missionaries had settled in Uganda, severe persecution being at first endured, with the martyrdom, in 1885, at the king's order, of Bishop Hannington, the first prelate in that quarter of equatorial Africa. A railway is now in progress from the coast at Mombasa to the interior; the territory is governed by a Commissioner under the Foreign Office.

Natal was first viewed by Europeans when Vasco da Gama, on his voyage to India, named the land on Christmas-day, 1497, from Dies Natalis, as the anniversary was styled in the Latin of the calendar. In 1683 a British ship was wrecked on the coast near Delagoa Bay, the survivors of the passengers and crew making their way overland to the Cape. An attempt was made to colonise the territory in 1824, when Chaka, the powerful Zulu king, was in possession, but the effort failed amidst native hostility and civil warfare between rival chiefs. In 1837, the year of Queen Victoria s Accession, came the beginning of Natal history in the famous "trekking" or emigration of a large body of Boers from Cape Colony, under Maritz, Pieter Relief, Pretorius, and other leaders. During 1835 and 1836 these people, dissatisfied with the methods of government in Cape Colony, which did not allow them a free hand in the harsh treatment of natives, passed beyond the Orange River to the region between its upper course and the east coast. There was trouble with the Zulu chief Dingaan, during which Retief and some hundreds of Boers were massacred, but the main body, under Pretorius, kept up a determined struggle, and in December, 1838, severely defeated the Kaffir enemy. The foundations of Pietermaritzburg and Durban were laid, and the Boers set up a "Republic of Port Natal," but the government of Cape Colony promptly opposed this movement, and a war ending in 1843 brought the submission of some of the Boers, and the passage of others beyond the Drakensberg Mountains. In May, 1843, Natal was proclaimed as a British settlement, and from 1844 until 1856 remained part of Cape Colony. It then became a distinct colonial state under a royal charter, with partly representative government in a Legislative Council. Many emigrants began to arrive from Great Britain, and in 1853 Dr. Colenso, justly famous for his chivalrous and truly Christian attitude in maintaining native rights, became the first bishop of Natal. In 1854 Durban and Pietermaritzburg had municipal government, and the subsequent history of the colony has been one of continuous peaceful progress, with slight interruptions during the Zulu war already noticed, and a rebellious movement in 1873 under Langalibalele, a Kaffir chieftain resident as a British subject in Natal. He was captured, tried, and sent as a prisoner to the Cape, and the colonists were henceforth devoted solely to the successful culture of the sugar-cane, introduced in 1856; of tea, an industry begun in 1877 with plants brought from Assam; to the breeding of cattle, and to the production of wool and hair from large flocks of sheep and goats, many thousands of the latter being the valuable "Angoras." In 1893 the colony came under "responsible government," and was duly represented by its Premier, with the other self-governing colonies, at the second Jubilee-celebration of the Queen in June, 1897. Zululand, taken over by the British government, in 1887, as a "Protectorate," after the dethronement of Cetewayo, his restoration and death in 1884, and some warfare between the Boers of the Transvaal and Cetewayo's rival, Usibepu, was annexed to Cape Colony in 1897. The republic styled the "Orange Free State" was founded by Boers who emigrated from Cape Colony in 1836 and following years, and was declared independent in 1854, by peaceful concession of the British government, after the territory had been for some years annexed to our dominions as the "Orange River Sovereignty."

The history of Portuguese dominion in Africa has little of interest or importance. Da Gama, on his Indian voyage, called at Sofala, Mozambique, Melinde, and other places on the east coast, finding them in possession of the Arabs, and in a prosperous condition. In 1505 the Portuguese took possession of Sofala, the coast territory extending from the Zambesi to Delagoa Bay. In 1507 the fort of Mozambique was founded, and some years later the Portuguese were at Quiloa, Melinde, and other points. By the year 1520 the whole of the east coast from Lourengo Marques to Cape Guardafui was under Portuguese dominion or influence, and some poor attempts were made to obtain power in the interior. The colonisation of Mozambique and adjacent territories was a failure from the first. The Jesuits could not convert the natives; the civilians and soldiers could not govern or conquer them. There were frequent wars, with varied success, against native chiefs, in the 17th century, the Kaffirs making attacks on the south, and the Arabs on the north. There was little development of trade or industries, and the expectation of obtaining wealth from gold and silver mines was baffled. The corrupt rule of luxurious governors completes the picture of incompetence for the development of colonial possessions, and early in the 18th century the Portuguese, swept by the Sultan of Oman, in Arabia, from their possessions, had lost all dominion between Cape Guardafui and Cape Delgado. They held but one port on the coast, and the chief traffic was the export of slaves. When the "scramble" of European Powers for Africa set in, Portuguese jealousy was aroused, and the government began to urge shadowy claims based upon discovery in early times and supposed "possession." On the western coast, Portugal had for centuries been established, in a feeble way, in Angola, where the town of St. Paul de Loanda was built in 1578. Her territory there was finally restricted, on the formation of the Congo Free (or Independent) State, in 1885, to the land extending southwards, with a range of about 600 miles inland eastwards, from the mouth of the Congo to Cape Frio. In the east centre she claimed Mashonaland, but this assumption was set aside by the British government, and in 1889 the attempts of Portugal, with an armed force, to obtain territory north and south of the Zambesi, were frustrated by British action, to the intense indignation of people at Lisbon. In the end, her possessions in eastern Africa were confined to the provinces of Mozambique to the north, and Lourencp Marques to the south, of the Zambesi.

We must now deal briefly with African islands. Madagascar, the third largest island in the world, about four times the area of England and Wales, was known to the early Greek geographers Ptolemy and Arrian, and Was visited by Arab merchants and Indian traders about the 9th century of the Christian era. It is mentioned by Marco Polo, but was probably first seen, among Europeans, by a Portuguese navigator in 1506. There were Dutch settlements for a time on the coast, and the island soon drew attention from the French, with efforts, maintained for two centuries, to hold military posts on the east coast. In 1840 they occupied the island of Nosibe on the north-west. Up to the middle of the 17th century Madagascar was under the rule of several independent chiefs. Then a warlike people mastered much of the territory, and early in the 19th century the Hovas, with British discipline and weapons, conquered nearly the whole island. A king named Radama I., in gratitude for British aid, abolished the export of slaves, and encouraged the advent of English missionaries, who began to work in 1820. The language assumed a written form under their labours, and Christianity and civilisation were fairly started among the people, estimated at about 4,000,000, mainly of Malayo-Polynesian origin, with a large capital city, called Antananarivo, containing handsome buildings of stone and brick, in the east-central district. The Hovas were the most advanced and intelligent of the native tribes, and became, as we have seen, the dominant people. The accession of a queen in 1828 severely checked the rising religion and culture. In 1836 the missionaries were driven away, and a great persecution of native Christians began, with a general exclusion of Europeans. This state of affairs ended in 1861 with the advent to power of King Radama II. Madagascar was again open to Europeans, and a new era began, in 1868, with the accession of Queen Ranavalona II., whose husband was prime-minister. Christianity was embraced by them and by many nobles, and in 1869 the burning of the royal idols was followed by a general movement in the central provinces under which many hundreds of Christian (Protestant) congregations and schools arose, while Roman Catholic missions also had much success. The island was then on the high road to prosperity and civilisation. In 1879 all the African slaves were freed, and judicial and legal reforms were afterwards made. A change came during the reign of Queen Ranavalona III., who succeeded in 1883 French colonial ambition had by this time been fully aroused, and a new field was sought in Madagascar. A treaty of December, 1885, introduced a French "Resident," with control of the country's foreign policy, to the capital. In 1890 a French "protectorate" over the island was recognised by Great Britain, but not by the Malagasy government, and this attitude of the queen and her husband, who was also prime-minister, was the cause of invasion and conquest. In May, 1895, a powerful expedition was sent to enforce the claims of France. Great losses were incurred from disease in the coast-region, and much difficulty was found in penetrating, with a military force and its modern encumbrances, to the interior. In several battles the Hova troops were overcome, and on September 30th the capital was taken. A treaty then accepted the "protectorate," but this farcical mask was soon thrown aside, and in 1896 Madagascar and its dependencies were declared a French colony, with the queen in nominal, and the "Resident-General" in actual, power, maintained by a French military force.

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Pictures for British and other European Possessions in Africa. page 3

Africa, 1898.
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